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So it looks as though Alex Smith will return to the 49ers for one more season.  I have been against this move from the beginning, but lately I’ve started to see the light.  With the lockout keeping free agents from signing, Smith might be the only option.  It is well known that 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh fully expects Smith to be back this season; Smith already has the new playbook.  So, love him or hate him, it looks like Smith will be back for one more stint as the 49ers starting quarterback.  Says Dan Brown of the Mercury News:

“Smith, 26, did not want to be quoted directly but told reporters from the Sacramento Bee and Comcast Sports Net Bay Area they could summarize the gist of his comments. In short, the feeling is mutual between Smith and coach Jim Harbaugh, who has spoken optimistically all offseason about the quarterback’s potential return.”

There is a different feeling this time around though.  When the 49ers drafted Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick last month, the message was clear; he would be the future and a bridge would be necessary.  So why can’t Smith be that bridge?  I’ll be the first to say I was ready to cut ties with Smith for good when the season was done and I stayed true to that up until the draft, until Kaepernick was drafted.  As long as this franchise is not depending on him to be the savior anymore, I believe he can be a nice quarterback for another season or two until Kaepernick is ready to take over.  Let’s face it, there aren’t many options out there much better than Smith right now. 

Smith’s career has been one dominated by inconsistency; whether it has been through his play or numerous coaching changes, Smith has had a difficult career.  He has been provided with numerous opportunities, but has yet to take advantage.  He did put up decent numbers in his last two seasons, when Singletary decided to open up his offense.  He can be a pretty good quarterback, when given time to throw, and has some good weapons to throw to.  He has arguably the NFL’s best tight end in Vernon Davis, a receiver with a great amount of potential in Michael Crabtree and a great running back in Frank Gore.  The strength of this team remains in the running game and though Harbaugh will throw much more passing into the mix, this will still be a running team.

The bottom line is Smith is good enough to keep this team competitive and with the right coaching combined with a weak division, this should be the year the 49ers are NFC West champions again.  All of us critics just need to ease up on him especially now that we need him in order to buy time for Kaepernick to develop.  Hopefully this lockout nonsense will be resolved and there is a season to watch this year. 

Sources:  Mercury News

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Provided is the link to my detailed article on the 49ers draft.

Baalke Reaches for the Stars

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So the war of the Billionaires versus the Millionaires continues.  The N.F.L. lockout, barely over a week old, continues to be the hot topic in Football.  It’s kind of hard to have any sympathy for these guys when the N.F.L. is the most profitable league in North America.  So the players union decertified and certain high profile players like Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are suing the league.  What a mess.

Realistically the only people hurt by all this are the fans and the behind the scenes workers; I’m talking about the concession stand workers, the stadium maintenance workers, the people who deal with the experience of the game without touching the game itself.  Obviously the fans are hurt, but it’s those workers who will suffer the most.  Their livelihood is put on hold for some ridiculous fight for more money when both sides clearly have enough.  The funny thing is those employees have been brought in to this war.  They’ve been used as selling points to aid in the battle.  For anyone to say this lockout is about them, it’s just plain garbage.  This lockout has nothing to do about them; it has nothing to do about the fans.  Everything this lockout stands for is about more money.  Whether it’s $1 Billion or $1 Thousand, no matter because both parties want more of it.  It’s out of control.

Every major sport in the past decade or so has had a lockout or some form of strike for money control.  There is no such thing as “for the love of the game” anymore.  The funny thing is I wrote about this 11 years ago and nothing has changed; it’s only gotten worse.  So what can we the fans do?  Do we stop watching?  Do we stop going to the game?  Realistically that’s not going to happen.  We’re fans for a reason, we genuinely love sports.  So all we can do is sit here and take it on the chin every time some league fights over more money, which seems to be a 10 year thing.  When will they realize, eventually the fans will not agree with what I just said; eventually the fans will turn.  Many fans are the “average Joe’s” of this world, working a job which affords them a decent life and the ability to attend a few games here and there.  If they keep raising ticket prices, which is what they’ll keep doing in order to pay these ridiculous salaries, eventually the average person will stop attending.

The best bet for any sports league is to maintain a strong public profile where everything is running smoothly.  At best, even when they raise the ticket prices, the fans won’t grumble so much and still feel good about attending.  When there are constant battles between the owners and players, it just angers everyone, reducing the moral amongst the people who matter the most, the fans!

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With all the talk surrounding the National Football League (N.F.L.) lockout, the players union decertified and now the prospects boycotting the draft, I thought I’d leave that for another post and talk about my beloved San Francisco 49ers.

I can remember the incredible performance by the 49ers in Superbowl 24, it is the first game I remember watching.  A lot has changed since then, where the 49ers were always expected to be in the hunt for the Superbowl, now they are just trying to get back to a winning team.  It has been nearly a decade of futility filled with incredibly terrible coaching and poor personnel decisions.  Much of the blame has been directed on their owners, the Yorks.  Whereas the previous owner Eddie Debartolo Jr. did what it took to build a winner and remain a winner for 17 seasons with players like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, John York has taken the inexpensive route and produced 8 consecutive seasons without a winning record.

In the last couple of years John has turned over most of the control of his team to his son Jed.  Jed York is a brash young executive with the same passion for the game as his uncle Eddie had.  His problem is he is young and inexperienced which led to him hiring, quite possibly one of the worst head coaches ever, Mike Singletary over two years ago.  That coaching situation ended badly as has every other coaching situation since 2003.  Still though he will have growing pains as an executive, I believe Jed will bring the 49ers back to relevance in the N.F.L.  It all starts with the head coach he hired this year and his name is Jim Harbaugh.

When the 49ers hired him on January 7, 2011, it gave hope to a starved fan base longing for the good old days.  49ers fans can only hope this Stanford coaching product can be as good as his predecessor and mentor, Bill Walsh.  In Harbaugh I see a smart, confident coach who truly believes he can turn this franchise around.  I see a coach very knowledgeable in the x’s and o’s of football.  He does inherit a team with quite a bit of talent, only a few pieces away from being a playoff caliber team and dare I say, Superbowl contender.

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