San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)
Reunite former S.F. QBs to help Lance
This would be a great time for the 49ers to reemploy a couple of notable quarterbacks from their distant past.
No, not Jim Druckenmiller and Steve Spurrier, although those two would serve as a constant reminder how much better the 49ers are these days at drafting quarterbacks.
The two I have in mind are Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick.
Smith’s name was thrown into the discussion mix in recent months as a possible 49ers backup quarterback. Smith ruined that idea by retiring as a player.
Smith didn’t retire his brain and his football soul, though, and the 49ers could make good use of those tools. They should
hire Smith as their rookiequarterback whisperer.
Wait, you say — isn’t that Kyle Shanahan’s job and unofficial title? No, I reply. Shanahan will spend time with Trey Lance, of course, but the head coach’s main job, quarterbackwise, is the continued development and game prep of Jimmy Garoppolo, as long as he is the starter.
This is not a rebuilding year for the 49ers. They can’t afford to spread Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello too thin and risk losing game prep focus. While Shanahan is coaching up Garoppolo and running the team, Smith could be the rookie’s personal tutor, Mr. Miyagi to Lance’s Karate Kid. Teach Lance the playbook, and NFL life lessons.
Anyone who has been around Smith will tell you he exudes not only quarterback intelligence, but a calm and friendly vibe. You think a 20yearold in Lance’s spot, all the pressure he’s facing, can’t use the support of a bigbrained, bighearted big brother?
Smith might not be available full time. He wants to hang with his family, cornball husband and father that he is. So hire him as a dropin whisperer, also available by phone.
Now, who’s the other guy I mentioned? Oh, yeah — Kaepernick. Sign him up to the practice squad.
Would he go for that? Hey, you ask good questions. I don’t know. Maybe not. Maybe Kaepernick feels he deserves a spot on a 53man roster. The way the 49ers could find out would be to ask him.
Here are some reasons the 49ers should make the offer: There are some running quarterbacks in the league, have you noticed? The 49ers face two good ones in their conference, Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray. The best way to prepare your defense to defend a running quarterback is to practice against one. You would have a quarterback close by who could run the Leg Package that Shanahan will install for Lance. Let’s say Garoppolo turns an ankle (it could happen) and Lance takes over, and the Leg Package is a smash hit. Who would you rather have as your backup — Josh Rosen or Colin Kaepernick? Opposing coaches would beg you to go with Rosen. Kaepernick, even as a practice squadder, would be a team leader. His work ethic would be a great model for everyone, including Lance. More importantly, nearly 70% of NFL players are Black or people of color. To a lot of players in the 49ers’ locker room, Black, white and brown, Kaepernick would be a hero. Remember, in Kaepernick’s last season as a 49er, when the team was truly terrible and outsiders were calling him a cancer and a distraction? His teammates voted him the Len Eshmont Award winner as their most inspirational player. It wouldn’t kill the 49ers to be on the right side of history here. Someday, maybe tomorrow, folks will look back and say, Colin Kaepernick was blackballed because he quietly took a knee? That’s crazy! They played the national anthem before every game? The 49ers would add millions of fans. People in France and Kenya and Boise, Idaho, who couldn’t pick a football out of a lineup will be wearing Kaepernick’s practicesquad jersey. Yes, the 49ers would also
lose a few fans. Toodles. Kaepernick is good enough to be an NFL quarterback. Again. He’s ready to roll. What about the cobwebs? He sat out the past four seasons, but there are NFL backup quarterbacks who haven’t played in a real game in that long.
Kaepernick is 33. Klay Thompson is 31 and has missed two seasons, and might miss part of a third, and nobody is saying Thompson is too rusty to ever come back, and he’s coming off two major injuries.
What a fine reunion this will be, Kaepernick and Smith!
Smith would find that Kaepernick has outgrown the weird issues he had back in the day with the media, and maybe with teammates. Kaepernick, freed of the awkward rivalry with Smith, would find Alex a delightful, worldaware guy and a football soul mate.
This will be great. I’m glad the 49ers will think of it.