Thursday, March 22, 2012

QB Competition in SF

Smith vs. Johnson vs. Kaepernick 

By: Brian Sanchez

HC Jim Harbaugh (left) and GM Trent Baalke (right)
will have to make a decision together about the QB position
Ladies and Gentlemen, there is officially a QB competition in San Francisco.  Yes, the 49ers did just sign QB Alex Smith to a 3 year $24 million contract.  So what?  This is Harbaugh's team, not Smiths'.  First SF kept Smith on a yo-yo while they tried to court Peyton Manning (who absurdly picked Denver).  In that time Smith went to Miami to visit the Dolphins and try and apply pressure to the 49ers to sign him and for more money.  Fail.  The Dolphins decided to sign David Garrard who hasn't thrown a pass in an NFL game in nearly two years.  Then when Manning chose the Broncos Smith had to come crawling back to the 49ers and sign a 3 year deal for only $8 mil a year.  That is basically nothing for a starting QB and an insult to Smith as far as saying they do not believe he is "elite" like they mentioned last year because they are paying him like an average QB.  Jim Harbaugh has made it very clear that Smith is the starter going into the season.  But if Smith struggles and Johnson shines in training camp and preseason play you'd better believe Harbaugh will make the switch.  It appears that now the real battle will be between Kaepernick and Johnson to be the No. 2 QB and be ready to supplant Smith if he drops from being a decent QB back to being a terrible one.

Let's take a look at the 3 Quarterbacks:

Alex Smith
(6"4' 217 lbs. 1st round No. 1 overall pick in 2005 out of Utah)
2011 starter and projected 2012 starter Alex Smith
Smith was the No. 1 overall pick and hasn't, and probably will never, live up to the billing.  He struggled for 5 years in which he had a new Offensive Coordinator in every year.  This was a common excuse but did not account for his poor arm strength and pocket presence.  Smith had his best year by far last year setting a new career high in QB Rating (90.7) completions (273) attempts (445) completion % (61.3) and yards (3144).  While those were career highs they are not terribly impressive.  Also he attempted the fewest passes among starters who started at least 12 games and while he only threw 5 interceptions he only threw 17 TD.  That is bad.  The 49ers did however have a 13-3 record last year and made it seemingly within one punt return of making the Super Bowl.  Now whether that was because of Smith or in spite of Smith is up to you.

Josh Johnson
(6"3' 205 lbs. 5th round pick in 2008 out of University of San Diego via Oakland Tech in Oakland, California)
Harbaugh (left) and Johnson (right) are very familiar
with each other after spending 3 years together at USD
Johnson signed a two year deal with the 49ers just one day after Smith signed his 3 year deal.  Johnson spent 3 years playing under Harbaugh at USD where he still holds 4 different passing records.  Johnson is believed to be in a battle with Kaepernick to be the main back up in case Smith were to get hurt or be (even more) ineffective.  But, Johnson did say in a statement that he chose his new team based off of where he thought he would have the best chance to become a starter.  He could have been banking on Smith being bad, he could have based it off of Harbaugh loving competition and knowing JJ, he could have based it off of knowing he will outwork Smith and earn the job straight up.  Whatever the case may be, he will get a fair shot as long as Harbaugh is involved.

Colin Kaepernick
(6"4' 230 lbs. 2nd round (4th) in 2011 out of Nevada)
Kaepernick (above) is regarded by many coaches and fans
as the future QB of the 49ers
Kaepernick has widely been seen as the future at the QB position for the 49ers.  It seems that he is the reason the 49ers signed Alex Smith to such a cheap contract.
that way Smith would be easily cuttable if it became time for Kaepernick (or Josh Johnson) to take over.  The 49ers traded up to the top of the 2nd round to make sure the got their hands on this kid.  Colin is a big, athletic, fast, and very smart QB with a rocket arm.  He did come from a spread system in college.  It is believed that he is just not ready to pick up NFL schemes and blitz packages yet.  When he finally does play he will open up the playbook for Harbaugh because of his arm strength and ability to make any throw on the field.

Be sure to tune in to The Sports Report with me, Brian Sanchez and my Co-Host Case Donahue Tuesday from 6-8p.m. only on  You can also follow The Sports Report on Twitter @SportsReportDU for all of the sports info you'll ever need.  While you're at it, go ahead and like The Sports Report FaceBook page for updates on the show and the World of Sports.

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