The day after the last game in 2010, failed quarterback Alex Smith went to 49ers headquarters in Santa Clara, packed up his belongings and wheeled his stuff out past the five Lombardi Trophy's for the last time.
So we thought...
Enter Jim Harbaugh and the lockout—or pride and circumstance as I like to call them.
There is no doubt that Jim Harbaugh is good for quarterbacks. A new rookie quarterback coming into the league —an untouched lump of clay —will for sure benefit from his infinite quarterback wisdom and energy. But a damaged seven-year vet?
As long as I have been following sports (my whole life, 32 years) I have never witnessed a guy have six bad seasons and comeback to do well in his seventh. That goes for any sport and any position.
More importantly, I have never seen an athlete—particularly one who holds an important position like quarterback—have six bad seasons and be asked to return for another. The entire situation is unique.
But, sometimes pride (Jim Harbaugh's) and unique circumstances (the lockout) can make people do crazy things.
After watching the first three preseason games, my fears are confirmed and it is clear to me that Smith's return was a mistake. Bad for Smith, for the 49ers, for Harbaugh and most importantly, for us fans.
Bad for Smith
Let's look at what Smith is up against returning to San Francisco.
First, the usual: New Coach, New Offense, New System, New Everything. One of the most used Alexcuses—legitimate, constant and true to the 49ers over the last decade. So why was it a good idea this time?
Next: Fans with eyes and memories. Although there are still many Smith supporters (Over 55 percent) for whatever reason, the rest of us despise him. But let's clarify something.
Smith the person is a nice guy. I like him. I would let him babysit my kids. Even Smith the quarterback can be a backup on my team. What makes me despise the idea of him, is listening to the 55 percent of you who blindly stand by and support him and the organization when he is obviously not cutting the mustard. I mean clearly.
If you want me to like Smith, quit repeating the same excuses over and over again. Quit making him out to be something he is not. It makes me dig my heels in even deeper. Let his play convince me, not your blind ramble.
If Smith was truly a good quarterback, it wouldn't be debatable.
Finally: Smith is up against himself. The facts are, Smith has not been a good quarterback. His best year was last year, and he was ranked 21st in the league, benched twice and was booed off the field in his home stadium. That was his best year.
Smith would have been better off going to another organization where he could have started fresh as a backup. He is simply up against more than he can handle, and it's not really fair to the guy to be honest.
Bad for the Team.
The 49ers need a fresh start just like Smith does. With a new coach and a new quarterback, it would have really felt like that fresh start. This, this feels like a stale ending.
When teammates look at Smith, they are forced to remember the past losing ways. Winning has a lot to do with team atmosphere. Smith is like the carbon dioxide to the 49ers winning atmosphere.
Vernon Davis and Frank Gore don't feel like winners when their quarterback is getting booed off the field, regardless of how great they are.
Bad for Jim Harbaugh.
A bad first year is not going to hurt Jim Harbaugh in the long run. In fact it's expected, new coach, new system, new everything. It took Walsh a couple years to right the ship and I imagine it will take Harbaugh at least that long. But starting off with this decision, just doesn't build confidence.
A solid veteran like Donovan Mcnabb or Matt Hasselback would have been a far better option for the rookie head coach. It would have also helped the rookie quarterback who is hoping to learn something this year. Something correct.
Bad for the Fans.
Whether some of them remember it or not, there is a reason they booed Smith off the field last year. We were tired. Tired of losing. Tired of watching Smith play quarterback at a low level. Tired of not being the 49ers.
This is the San Francisco 49ers, home of the elite quarterback. We deserve better, we deserve elite. If it turns out to be Kaepernick then great. If not, let's dump him too. And if the next guy isn't him, see ya! When did our standards sink so low?
I expect more and you all should too. Alex Smith coming back to the 49ers was a mistake.
Thank you for reading. Please join me on Twitter @ryanthebroker.