49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

April 16, 2011
Let's say that Alex Smith is back in 2011 ...

According to my Draftmas advent calendar (Todd McShay was behind today's window), the big day is less than two weeks away. Some thoughts as we head down the homestretch ...

* For the sake of argument, let's say that Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers are confident that Alex Smith returns for the 2011 season. Under that scenario, I think they still take a quarterback in the first two rounds because Smith only would be signed for a short period. However, having Smith on board gives the 49ers a little more wiggle room/freedom. Moreover, it gives them the leeway to keep whomever they draft on the sideline his rookie year - what should have been done with Smith - instead of forcing him into the lineup. With an abbreviated offseason, no rookie quarterback will be ready no matter what offensive system he learned in college.

* Harbaugh is a clever guy. He's not allowed to speak to Alex Smith or any other player during the lockout. But he has been effectively talking to Smith through the media. His "armadillo skin" comment to me this week was tantamount to telling Smith, 'who cares if the fans boo - I believe in you.' Smith does not listen to the radio or read the newspapers. But I can say for certain that Harbaugh's kind words have been relayed to him throughout the offseason and that they are doing what they are intended to do - make Smith contemplate staying with the 49ers another season.

* The Houston Chronicle's John McClain wrote Friday that the Redskins "are trying like crazy" to move up in the draft so they can take a quarterback, presumably Blaine Gabbert. That might be an ideal scenario for the 49ers if Gabbert is still on the board at No. 7 and if LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson is not. The Redskins pick at No. 10. If they truly coveted Gabbert, they would want to get ahead of the Titans at pick No. 8. If the 49ers swapped to No. 10, they would still be able to draft one of the players - OLB Robert Quinn, CB Prince Amukamara, DE Cameron Jordan, even WR Julio Jones - they would have been contemplating at No. 7. (Heck, they might even be able to trade down again with a team that wants Jones). The Redskins, however, might be reluctant to trade up considering they have a lot of needs and only two picks (a first and second rounder) in the first four rounds. Then again, 2012 picks also are in play and Washington is known for dealing away their selections ...

* Things that make you go hmmmm ... Why in the world would Falcons WR Roddy White of all people be criticizing the 49ers for wanting to bring back Smith as he did on his Twitter account yesterday? (He later "apologized.") The only history that White and Smith share is that they were taken in the same draft class. My best guess: White has been rubbing shoulders with a 49er (ex-49er?) or two in recent days ...

* I think the 49ers will use a mid-round pick on a running back. My sense is that the team will target two of their neediest positions - QB, OLB, CB - in the first two rounds, but that there will be value in taking a RB in the third. The draft may not have an Adrian Peterson or C.J. Spiller this year, but evaluators think it's as deep at RB as it's been in a while. The 49ers, of course, must replace Brian Westbrook and perhaps find a future replacement for Frank Gore, who is entering the final year of his deal. Kendall Hunter, Daniel Thomas, JacQuizz Rodgers, Taiwan Jones, Jordan Todman, DeMarco Murray - one of those guys will be available in the third.

* Turlock native Colin Kaepernick has been invited to Radio City Music Hall to attend the draft, according to NFL.com. In my mind, Kaepernick is the quarterback the 49ers should be targeting in the Alex Smith + rookie scenario for 2011. Kaepernick has a huge arm and a huge upside, and he could flourish under Harbaugh.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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