People like to look at Alex Smith's experience with the rebuilding 49ers and say "the situation wasn't good and his potential was squandered by the revolving door of offensive coordinators."
Well, if Smith's situation was "not good" then we can file the circumstances surrounding Carr's injection into the expansion Houston Texans' offense under "downright abysmal."
For better or worse (and it's very safe to assume the red and gold masses will expect worse), Carr is the 49ers' current quarterback; he is at the top of their depth chart at the passer position; he is the depth chart at the passer position.
As the majority of fans seem to be very against retaining Smith's services for another year in spite of an encouraging appraisal by Jim Harbaugh, it's reasonable and rational to wonder what to make of the 49ers' only currently signed quarterback.
Is there any way Harbaugh can fix Carr the way he thinks he could help Smith?
Carr will be 32 years old this season (still assuming there is a 2011 NFL season), which is not quite the twilight of a successful quarterback's career, but then again this is Carr we're talking about. Carr made plenty of money in Houston as the first overall pick in 2002, but now he's playing more for pride and an attempt to refurbish a busted legacy.
Carr saw but a handful of snaps in 2010, when Smith suffered a shoulder injury against Carolina. The result was atrocious, as he threw a fatal interception in the final minutes of the game, ensuring a loss to the league's worst team.
When the fans had nearly booed Smith off the field in a home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, they chanted to the tune of "we want Carr." After the Carolina game, however, no such chants were ever muttered again for the duration of the agonizing 2010 season.
There's no doubt the 49ers are a bit concerned that their only current quarterback is an over-the-hill, shell-shocked bust. Then again, they might want to remember that there might not be a passer in the league who is hungrier for redemption than Carr.
If Carr somehow managed to soak up Harbaugh's playbook and deliver results on the field (or more importantly, the win column), then perhaps he could become the "veteran quarterback for a young passer to be groomed behind" that so many fans are clamoring for.
But lets indulge this quasi-fantasy and remind ourselves that Harbaugh's system will be a task to install, and this offseason has been about as productive as LA gridlock on a Friday night.
If Carr can bring himself around, he'll bring Harbaugh around, who'll bring Baalke around, and it would all bring the fans around too. If that happened, the 49ers' organization could revel in their smugness. The doubters (who make up a good 99.9% of the 49ers' fan base) would stand awestruck, with jaws dropped wide open, bewildered at the fact that the golden egg was already on the roster. It would be forgiven that the last 49er quarterback to post a winning record was shipped to Detroit for a late-round pick. And a deep sigh of relief would be heard across the NFL landscape while the fabled red-and-gold vessel was righted.
But "if is the middle word in life," and this is a humongous IF.