ex⋅per⋅i⋅ment [n. ik-sper-uh-muhnt; v. ek-sper-uh-ment]
–noun 1. a test, trial, or tentative procedure; an act or operation for the purpose of discovering something unknown or of testing a principle, supposition, etc.: a chemical experiment; a teaching experiment; an experiment in living.
2. the conducting of such operations; experimentation: a product that is the result of long experiment.
3. Obsolete. experience.
–verb (used without object) 4. to try or test, esp. in order to discover or prove something: to experiment with a new procedure.
Once again, San Francisco finds themselves at home for the forthcoming playoffs, a yearly trend beginning with the empowerment of the York clan. Despite bold predictions by the teams GM and head coach, the 49ers are precisely where they ought to be at the conclusion of the NFL regular season. Where their Faithful have been. For years.
Parked in front of the T.V., remote in hand. Snacks at the ready. The family dog has wisely left the living room in anticipation of loud noises and projectiles originating from the vicinity of the throne. Women and children have fortuitously escaped to the relative tranquility of strip malls, coffee houses and bumper to bumper traffic to escape the vulgar display preparing to unfold.
Over the course of the season there has been an abundance of speculation on whether or not Alex Smith could lead the 49ers out of the wilderness and back to respectability. Myopic Smith apologists, A.K.A. "SmithBots" (thanks Orion) are quick to point out his skewed stats, many of which were padded in garbage time scenarios when the opponent had the contest in the bag. And the age old argument that "The stats don't lie" often fails to address the 3rd down conversion rate, as well as the "vs. quality opponent" numbers that Smith has produced this year, and in his tenure.
Others blame the offensive line. The lack of continuity at the offensive coordinator position. Turnovers. Drops. Injuries.......(insert your alibi here). Spin it any way you like, but Smith is a bust. Whatever intangibles are necessary to separate himself from any potential competitor for his position have not been revealed to date. And years down the road it has become apparent that he may have never possessed the qualities required to lead a rebuilding team in it's search for an identity. Or even consistent play, for that matter.
There is plenty of conjecture regarding the ownership and management retaining Smith's services to justify his draft status and potential. Having the opportunity to release him but instead choosing to retain him (albeit for less ducats) seems to reinforce these opinions. Throwing money at a problem is an unusual choice for the team, known for it's thrift since the demise of the DeBartolo era.
Sure, Smith is known to be an intelligent, nice guy. But "anal", to quote Raye. And I'm a firm believer in Lombardi's philosophy on "nice guys", and where they finish. Shaun Hill is another nice guy who has shown class after being unceremoniously yanked in favor of Smith. Neither is the answer to the question that has been asked since the departure of Garcia, yet another nice guy. If that requires one less nice guy chosen in the upcoming draft, I hope a real dbag of a quarterback is picked.