Why Alex Smith Will Play Past 40
In about ten years, Alex Smith is going to look back on this week as both the best and worst week of his life. First, here is the bad news. He is likely finished as the starter for the San Francisco 49ers. The worse news? Smith is probably finished as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is one of those people who is always looking for the bigger better deal. He’s kinda like the girl in Varisty Blues who has to date the starting quarterback (no matter who the starting quarterback is). Colin Kaepernick brings up images of a young Tom Brady to Jim Harbaugh. Kaepernick is taller, has a stronger arm and, oooohh, just look at all of those tattoos.
In this classic tragedy, Smith could be cast as Jesus and Harbaugh as St. Peter. Before the press conference was done, Harbaugh had denied Smith three times. In the background a cock could have signaled the call. In their base elements, football coaches are nothing more than preteen girls that sweat, giggle, and get excited looking at calendars of men. The next picture is always better than the last. Smith is Mr. March and Kaepernick is Mr. July.
Harbaugh drafted Kaepernick. Hearbaugh called up Peyton Manning to… gauge interest. In short, Harbaugh said, “If you come to my house, you will get laid.” Harbaugh still needed a quarterback when Manning married up to Denver. Smith had always planned on re-signing. The Niners didn’t want to throw Kaepernick immediately into the fire, so they brought back Smith. But now they feel like Kaepernick is ready. The theory is that before this prom date is through, Smith will be on the side of the road with a torn dress crying to mommy on the phone about what a jerk Harbaugh is.
Someone is going to tell Alex Smith, “Settle down honey, they just did you a favor!” Smith is going to take that particular piece of advice for what it is: a hollow attempt to console him in his time of trouble. Don’t get us wrong, that is exactly what it is. That particular piece of consolation also happens to be the truth.
Smith has been through hell with San Francisco. He has been through head coaches and coordinators questioning whether he was really worthy of being a number one pick. Smith has stayed loyal through a work stoppage and free agency. His reward? Being unceremoniously dumped the same way that Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, and every other 49er has been dumped before him. That’s just how the 49ers are. They are a strip club that drains your bank account and then won’t return your calls.
Alex Smith is resilient, tough, durable, and adaptable. You know who that makes Alex Smith? This generation’s version of Steve DeBerg.
Do you know who Steve DeBerg is? If you do, count yourself a true football fan. Steve DeBerg started as a 49er before a freak injury caused him to be replaced by Joe Montana. Where did DeBerg go? To the Denver Broncos, where he was replaced by John Elway. Where did DeBerg go after that? To Tampa Bay, only to see the coming of Steve Young as well as Vinny Testaverde.
DeBerg kicked around for a while before retiring in 1993, then came back as an emergency plan for the Atlanta Falcons in 1998. The Falcons gig allowed him to be the oldest starting quarterback at 44. Long after Kaepernick has sold his last car wash, Alex Smith will still be the most in demand backup quarterback in the NFL. And now has an opportunity to become the Dennis Eckersley of football.
Eckersley was a starting pitcher who transitioned into a dominant closer over the course of a 23-year professional baseball career. No one imagines themselves turning into Steve DeBerg or Dennis Eckersley, but Alex Smith has all the tools to become a serviceable quarterback for years to come. It’s actually a better fate than Colin Kaepernick becoming the next Jim Druckenmiller. Let’s just hope that Smith develops the proper frame of mind after the next public humiliation the 49ers are certainly to give him.