Mike Singletary has nailed down that Alex Smith is the starter going into 2010, but how will the rest of these guys pan out? Are there even enough snaps in the preseason to tell?
Behind Smith, there's a huge possibility the 49ers will be looking to make a cut, and that cut may be in the form of Nate Davis or Jarrett Brown.
In spite of Smith being deemed the starter, I want to see him out there on the opening series or two. It's a good opportunity to shake the rust off, and as well get some game time experience throwing to new receivers Ted Ginn and Kyle Williams.
After that, what's more important? David Carr is a proven veteran, and I really want to see the team make the right choice between Jarrett Brown and Nate Davis. Davis has a year under his belt and some impressive wins, but Brown is an extremely mobile quarterback.
I've been impressed with Nate Davis, but here is some food for thought: If the 49ers wind up with a new offensive coordinator in a few years, do we have a year for him to learn the playbook? Ask Alex Smith—we've been known to turn over an offensive coordinator here and there.
I heard some fans calling for Raye's head last year, but the reality is he will be 65 years old after the Super Bowl and his retirement could be right around the corner, even unexpectedly forced by health.
Jarrett Brown runs a 4.54 forty. Not only is that half a second faster than Nate Davis, he is faster than Frank Gore, Glenn Coffee, and Anthony Dixon. He is a dangerous runner at QB, and the ability to buy time or tuck it and run can help a lot in the development of a quarterback. Michael Vick is a great example of this.
This is a guy who could realistically average more yards per rush from the QB position than Shaun Hill averaged per pass attempt over his career in San Francisco. Also consider that with the drafting of Anthony Dixon, Michael Robinson, who takes snaps in the Wildcat formation, likely will not make the 53-man roster.
Brown is also very accurate throwing in motion and on the roll out. Had Brown played as well has he did for more than one season, he would have been a middle round draft choice and far out of reach of the 49ers.
I wouldn't be surprised if there is a reason we brought him in. "(Nate) is coming along," Coach Singletary said. "Not as fast as he'd like, not as fast as (the coaches) would like, but he's coming."
Think for a second about the possibilities this guy brings near the goal line. Our line, Vernon Davis and Nate Byham on either side of the line, and any twosome of Gore, Coffee, and Dixon as potential hole-openers. How many possibilities must you defend?
I raved about Brown first because he's the new guy, but Nate Davis has shown flashes of that "it" factor, leading the team to two come from behind wins in the 2009 preseason with second or lower team players. This was after Shaun Hill and Alex Smith had their chance, and there is nothing that you can say about Jarrett Brown's accomplishments in college that can downplay that.
I feel that the 49ers would be making a big mistake to not give Davis and Brown equal portions, and the two as a whole should take the majority of the snaps during the preseason games. David Carr may be a short-term solution as the immediate backup, but he is three years senior, and five years older than Smith.
If Smith takes charge of this team in 2010, I don't see the 49ers keeping David Carr any longer than his two-year contract. I believe the team's personnel involved understand the importance for sustaining winning seasons that they must be grooming Smith's replacement as soon as possible. The reality is, I think Jarrett Brown has just as much of a shot as Nate Davis does.
Another important point to bring up is that we haven't and likely won't see Davis enter a game when Smith or Hill is healthy because he doesn't provide any added abilities. That may not be the case with Jarrett Brown due to his scrambling ability.
Nate Davis has been impressive in the preseason, but a question that can't be downplayed is, "Who will be ready to lead us sooner after we change offensive coordinators?" I am interested in your opinions, but this will be answered on the field as long as the team poses the question.