Making Sense of 49ers Signing QB Alex Smith

49ers QB Alex Smith

Getty Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers.

In 2018, Alex Smith suffered a gruesome leg injury that put him through 17 surgeries and rehabbed him with Army soldiers. In October of 2020, Smith did the unimaginable and returned to the gridiron as a starter for the Washington Football Team.

He stepped up after Jalen Ramsey went down for the seasons and carried Washington to a 5-1 record and a playoff berth. Naturally, Smith earned AP Comeback Player of the Year honors..

However, his time in Washington is reportedly coming to an end in “the coming days,”  according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. But Smith still plans on playing elsewhere.

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While there have been no teams directly linked to Smith yet, the 49ers are one that makes sense since they’re in the market for a backup QB.

49ers Want Better Options At QB

When Jimmy Garoppolo was sidelined this past season, the Niners’ weak QB depth chart was exposed. GM John Lynch recently appeared on “Eye Test for Two” podcast where he opened up about Garoppolo’ss future and the need for better options at QB behind him.

“Being available is a big part of this thing,” Lynch explained.  “So we — probably as a stated goal — we have to insulate ourselves better. We’ve got to have better options if he’s not there. I’ve watched people go through this in their careers where they struggled early. It happened to me early, and then I went eight years without missing practice. So I believe things can happen, and I believe they will for him. I really believe that Jimmy is our guy.

“When he’s healthy, he’s played at a high level. But we probably have to add someone. We probably need to improve ourselves, so if he’s not there, we’re all right; we can win games.”

Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard have stepped up over the past three seasons behind Garoppolo. Now, Mullens will be a restricted free agent and Beathard is set to be an unrestricted free agency. The Niners have reserve quarterbacks Josh Rosen and Josh Johnson, but that doesn’t mean they’ll make the regular-season roster.

49ers Would Be Getting a True Leader in Smith

Smith, a three-time Pro Bowl player, spent his first eight seasons in the Bay Area after the 49ers selected as their No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft.

However, after Smith’s concussion in 2012, his starting role was replaced by Colin Kaepernick. Ahead of the 2013 season, the Niners traded Smith away to the Chiefs where he spent five seasons before rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes took over in his second season.

After missing the entire 2019 season, Smith appeared in eight games last year with six starts. He completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 1,582 yards with six touchdowns and eight interceptions. Washington went 5-1 in the games Smith started.

The 49ers Would Be Getting A Coach in Smith

After the Niners letting go of Smith, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh admitted that Smith was more of a coach to Kaepernick than he, himself, ever was.

“He’s prepared and been involved in the game planning, in preparations, he’s prepared himself as the starter each week,” Harbaugh said of Smith in 2013 via Pro Football Focus. “That’s what he’s done, that’s what we expect of him and that’s what he has delivered. Another person really to credit in Colin’s success because Alex has really helped coach Colin and has been right there by his side. Sitting there in meetings every single day. He coaches Colin now more than I do, and that speaks high of the kind of person and teammate that Alex Smith is.”

Adding Smith to the 49ers roster might give them two injury-prone quarterbacks in the lineup, but if they draft a rookie QB then he’ll have two of the best mentors in the game. If Smith is extremely affordable and still playing decent football at 36-years-old, then why not bring him back?

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