The San Francisco 49ers blew it when they re-signed Alex Smith, even the blindest fan can see that. They now have been gift-wrapped an opportunity to repent for their sin and sign former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard.
When the 'Niners re-signed Smith, they basically said to every defensive coordinator in their division and conference, “Please refer to previous film” on how to stop us. To bring back a quarterback who has gone 14-25 against the NFC with a completion percentage of 57 percent to many felt like they were hoping for mediocrity.
Smith may have a chance to develop into a terrific backup quarterback, but that development will not take place in San Francisco. Enter one David Garrard. Now by no means is anyone suggesting Garrard is the future of the organization. However, if the future is now, then the former Jaguar would be the perfect player to transition them to Colin Kaepernick.
Garrard would keep the 'Niners competitive until the rook was ready to roll, and most of all, he gives San Fran a completely different offensive look. The former Jags starter offers a unique, more athletic set of options that Smith just does not have at this point in his career. Most of all, the threat of Garrard taking off puts immediate pressure on the defense. This dynamic would create a plethora of options for offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
Imagine a naked bootleg with Michael “I don’t do training camp” Crabtree running a 15-yard drag route and Braylon Edwards running a post route. Then imagine Vernon Davis split wide going deep and Frank Gore in the backfield—can you say play action? If you are a 49ers fan, this would look better than a King Magazine cover. Well, maybe not that good, but you get the point.
Now it would be extremely difficult for San Fran to implement a new starting quarterback with the season only hours away, but difficult does not mean impossible. Given the tremendous upside that Garrard possesses for this team, it is a risk worth taking.
The 2010 season saw San Fran lose four games by three points or less. What made those four losses so especially painful was the fact that they were all to NFC opponents. Every loss has a story, but these losses all told the same horrific tale. Whether it was the loss to the New Orleans (25-22) after getting rocked in Seattle on opening day, or losing to the Atlanta Falcons by two (16-14) after getting it handed to them in Kansas City. Then they come only to lose by three to a Michael Vick-less Philadelphia Eagles team (27-24). The 'Niners found ways to give away close games with Smith at the helm. The most disappointing of those four losses had to be the in Carolina, too, the worst team in football.
Close your eyes and imagine what the season would have looked like if they had won those four games. You are 10-6 hosting a playoff game and life is good. Instead, you are 6-10 and trumpeting the loser's anthem.
Come on, 'Niner fans, let us all say it together loud and proud: “This year is going to be different!”
This year can be different. One team’s trash can be another team’s treasure. They finally have a chance to be different. This year, compliments of Jack Del Rio’s incompetence, they have an opportunity to change the course of their season.
If San Fran wins those close games, imagine what that would have done for this team’s confidence. Comparing the quarterbacks in games that were decided by seven points or less, Alex Smith was 1-9. Conversely, Garrard was 6-4. Garrard has his limitations, but in a game that is sometimes decided by inches, he is miles better than Smith.
A team with belief in one another is dangerous. Especially when that team plays in the woe begotten NFC west, a division that now features two coaches who were in college football less than two years ago. Just to be clear, no other division has that much Similac on the sidelines. In fact, the NFC west is the ONLY division in football to have one, let alone two, former college head coaches. So the opportunity is there to have a playoff season.
The 49ers have not made a commitment to Smith or Kaepernick, but they keep trying to sell that Kaepernick is their future. If they truly believe that then it would behoove them to bring in a veteran who has had some success in this league to teach the young pup how to win. A quarterback who has the same type of skill set as the young one you are preparing. Garrard has that skill set and would not cost anything to obtain.
There are no excuses for the 49ers not to make this move now. They have a significant amount of cap space for this season, so bringing him in and guaranteeing his salary this year will not compromise their future. If it means they have to perhaps overpay for his services, then that is not a bad thing. They owe it to the fanbase that has been so loyal to them during these years. So they can save us the financial ramifications rhetoric.
Smith has not given any indication he is going to come out of the gate poised and prolific. His preseason has looked like his regular season, you can pick the year. He was given a one-year contract and that seems right for a backup. The maligned quarterback would not complain publicly about the move and if he did, then San Fran could let him sit in the office and hear what his worth is around the league. That would muzzle his bark quickly.
Kaepernick is not ready and one has to doubt if he ever will be, but right now, at this moment, he is not. Bringing in a veteran who has been through an NFL season and had success in the playoffs would be invaluable to him. The rook would get a front-row seat to see what it takes to be successful by watching Garrard prepare daily. He would learn what do as well as what not to do.
This move would breathe life into a begotten NFL franchise. It would put smiles on the player’s faces and a bop in the player’s strolls. Yes, it would be difficult to hand over the starting job to a quarterback who could not recognize your offense from De La Salle. However, in the grand scheme of things, it would be an upgrade, and no matter how you look at it, this is better than that.
Life is about gradual progression. Garrard may not be a championship quarterback, but he is at the very least a playoff quarterback. He is a quarterback who will make the little plays that will allow the 'Niners to gradually go from watching the postseason to playing in the postseason.