The bad news was that the 49ers went 6-10 in a year that they were expected to win the NFC West. The good news is they were able to scrape together 6 wins without even average production at head coach and quarterback. Now they seem to have the head coach thing figured out, at least in terms of procuring a guy who we can assume has the ability to assess what’s going on in real time. But quarterback is another story. Compared to finding a good quarterback, acquiring an ace starting pitcher in the Majors is as easy as finding a Russian in the NHL, or a D-Leaguer on the Warriors.
(Breaking news: I’ve been moonlighting! SB Nation Bay Area came calling, so I’ll be doing a week-in-review feature for them on Mondays until they decide that I’m taking away more pageviews than I’m generating. Check out my first SBNBA post here, before they change their minds!)
After Andrew Luck went play-action on the entire NFL and took his talents back to the South Bay, all the quarterbacks in the draft move up a notch. Too bad none of the non-Luck quarterbacks in the draft are that great. Relatively speaking, but you know that. Is there any position in sports more fun to belittle than QB? Hardest position to master, and the ones who are struggling look so ridiculous. Ready to rip on some QB’s? LET’S DO THIS.
1st Round soon-to-be-busts
Cam Newton: Simply running into the line every third play might work in the SEC, but it won’t work in the NFL.
Blaine Gabbert: Spread guy who’s “constantly out of shape” and has an awful name. If you want a guy named Blaine running your team, you probably have a sweater tied oh-so-casually around your neck while you’re reading this.
Jake Locker: His receivers were probably the best I’ve ever seen at dropping catchable balls, but he threw some pretty horrible interceptions as well. He also has a penchant for running full speed into oncoming linebackers, a habit that will serve him even worse in the NFL.
Ryan Mallett: I liked him for his accuracy (part of my theory that to be a successful NFL team in the 2010’s, you need a QB who can complete 65% of his passes or thereabouts), but he makes Bernie Kosar look like Michael Vick. We’re talking Bengie speed here. Lots of rumors surrounding his tendency to be a complete jackass as well. So no, I don’t like him as much as I used to.
This doesn’t mean the 49ers won’t pick one of these guys 7th. I have no idea what Harbaugh (or Trent Baalke, for that matter) is looking for in a QB, so they may take one of these guys in hopes he’ll be ready in 2012. But for 2011 (provided there’s a season), the 49ers are going to need someone who isn’t Alex Smith to start the first game of the year and hopefully most if not all of the rest of next season’s games. But who? Here are the options. Prepare to hold your nose during some of these…
Vets with baggage
Kevin Kolb: Probably the best combination of skills, experience, age, and availability (he wants to start, and the Eagles pretty much have to stick with Vick). However, with all the crappy quarterbacking going on, the Eagles may demand a price that’s beyond exorbitant.
Donovan McNabb: After the way he was treated in Washington, if McNabb has it in him to get in shape and prove doubters wrong, now’s the time. But he’s incredibly rich and hasn’t really been all that great since the early 2000’s.
Vince Young: He isn’t accurate, his throwing motion is dookie and he may actually be insane. However, he somehow finds himself winning a decent percentage of the games he starts, this year may have humbled him (doubtful, but still) and he’s still got some years left. Wait, he’s a terrible passer. I need to stop talking myself into these guys.
Brett Favre: Uh oh (pardon me, I have to run to the bathroom for a minute). Okay, I’m back. Anybody have any ginger ale or Sprite? My stomach isn’t doing so well.
Kyle Orton: Unless Tim Tebow is forced down the throat of Denver’s next coach, their next coach may want to go with Orton as the starter. Oh, who are we kidding, Tebow is going to start for 5 years unless he’s completely horrible. Orton and his neckbeard may become available. Did you just get the chills? Me neither…
Matt Hasselbeck: He looked like a new man on Saturday against the Saints, in a game that was his last chance to hold onto another year or two as a starter. He came through, in full Hasselbeck fashion. He was mic’d on the field and dropped a great “freakin’,” (talk about the opposite of 24/7 Penguins/Capitals), and chucked the ball everywhere. Mike Williams looked incredible. What a strange team the Seahawks are. Sorry, I drifted off topic there. Hasselbeck has been easy to sack and easily injured for quite a while. Not a good combination.
Sage Rosenfels: If you want a guy to lose a close, exciting game for you, here he is. As much as I love accuracy (and Rosenfels is incredibly accurate), he’s a statue who’ll complete a lot of passes, throw a lot of interceptions and lose a lot of games.
Carson Palmer: Do you have any idea how horrible Palmer is? He averages 1.2 turnovers (Interceptions + fumbles lost) per game over his career, and he’s getting worse. Anybody who’s pining for Palmer probably has false memories of some great fantasy season from 2004 when he rode Shaun Alexander to a 2nd-place finish.
Kerry Collins: No, no, stop!!! There’s no way Jim Harbaugh wants to deal with some quarterback as old as he is. As dumb of an idea as it would be, Harbaugh would stick a rookie in the game if the other option was just a game manager type. (Speaking of “game managers,” do you think Trent Dilfer likes that term or hates it? He knows he’s the person we’re all envisioning whenever we use the term, right? Or since the term was created while he was playing and totally focused on football, does he even know that “game manager” really started getting use to describe quarterbacks like him?)
Nate Davis: The anti-Andrew Luck. I’m in the surprisingly large “Nate Davis still might become somebody” camp, especially considering that no NFL team was even the slightest bit interested in him when he was relegated to practice squad status. If Harbaugh rescued Nate Davis’ career, it would be one of the most celebrated coaching jobs of all time. (Update: Matt Maiocco reported that Nate Davis is signing with the Seahawks, pending a physical.)
Troy Smith: (sigh)
The truth is, we have no idea who the quarterback Harbaugh has in mind. If he likes a guy they could get after the first round like Colin Kaepernick, Pat Devlin, Christian Ponder, or Ricky Stanzi, or if Harbaugh (and Baalke too, yeah, yeah, yeah…) actually has a veteran in mind who he’d they’d love to work with. And I’m sure I’m missing somebody here (although Marc Bulger and Tarvaris Jackson don’t count, because they’re losers/turnover-machines). Feel free to add other possible QBs in the comments section who we can ridicule.