The San Francisco 49ers have not made the playoffs for eight seasons. While there have been many factors that have contributed to this drought, perhaps no on-field issue has been as glaring as the prolonged inconsistency the team has seen at the quarterback position.
The 49ers have not had a Super Bowl-winning QB since Steve Young, and no QB has even flirted with the Pro Bowl since the team parted ways with Jeff Garcia. The 2011 roster stands to have a good deal of talent and promise, but unless new head coach Jim Harbaugh can concoct a viable solution at QB, no one should expect the team's luck to change.
Harbaugh was aggressively wooed by the 49ers even before completing a 12-1 season at Stanford, where he led his team to an Orange Bowl title, the first in school history. The primary draw of Harbaugh was not only his winning pedigree at Stanford and University of San Diego but also his offensive prowess and supposed knack for molding quarterbacks (as evidenced by Andrew Luck).
Having been through an extended recent history of major heartache on offense and particularly at QB, the 49ers are hoping Harbaugh will finally be the man to right the ship. Finding a new QB will be a top priority.
For reasons already well documented in previous articles, it appears near impossible that the 49ers can find a workable solution in both the near- and long-term time frames in one and the same player. The team is not well-equipped to groom a rookie from the draft on the field next season, they have serious needs elsewhere to address in the early rounds of the draft, and few if any available veterans have the combination of age, experience and ability to make them more than a short- to medium-term solution.
For those reasons, the 49ers need to employ a two-pronged attack to their QB problem: find a veteran who can grab the reins immediately and hold serve for at least a few seasons and grab a mid-round prospect to develop for down the road.
Here is part one of a two part look at the top-10 potential solutions for the near term, highlighting No. 10 through No. 6: