The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners

The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners
A review and commentary on the history & lastest events surrounding the 17 time NFC Western Division & 5 -Time World Champion San Francisco 49ers. From 1946 and the All America Football Conference to 2009 and the road to a 6th Super Bowl title - For true fans of the scarlet and gold! Enjoy!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Alex Smith's Legacy

With all the discussion starting about Alex Smith's abilities, (or lack of), stats, results and uncertain future, here is a comparison of Alex Smith's stats compared to the stats and stories of 5 of the biggest first round "franchise" quarterback draft busts of all time. For my friend out there who likes to defend "Mr Smith", save it pal. You are on your own with those feeble arguements that he's not a bust. Smith has competed in 32 NFL games, over 3 seasons. All these QBs below are compared to him based on having competed in at least 25 NFL games, for one, his whole career, and/or their first 3 seasons statistics. Like Smith, all were Heisman finalists, all were first round quarterbacks, and all were expected to revive down-trotten franchises.

Tim Couch (1999, 1st Overall)
(3 SEASONS) GAMES: 38 COMP: 632 ATT: 1068 PCT: 59.1 YDS: 6,970 YPA: 6.5 TD: 39 INT: 43
A. SMITH......GAMES: 32 COMP: 435 ATT: 800 PCT: 54.4 YDS: 4,679 YPA: 5.8 TD: 19 INT: 31

Couch's college success culminated in his selection as the number one overall selection in the '99 NFL draft by the revived Browns. Couch took over for Ty Detmer as the team's starting quarterback in the second game of his rookie season. The Browns front office had high expectations for Couch. Spokesperson John Schober was quoted in 2003 as saying the former Kentucky All-American would win at least six playoff games. But Couch was joining a team that had been hastily assembled in the wake of the former Browns squad moving to Baltimore three years earlier. He spent five seasons as a starting quarterback for Cleveland, eventually facing competition from journeyman backup Kelly Holcomb during his final two seasons. Couch's tenure in Cleveland ranged from leading the team to a playoff appearance, to boos and inconsistent play, which was partially a result of being constantly plagued by injuries -- those due, in turn, to his exposure to pressure due to the expansion Browns' inexperienced line. He missed the final nine games of the 2000 season with a shoulder injury. The high point of Couch's career came in 2002, when he threw for almost 3,000 yards and 18 touchdowns in leading the upstart Browns to a 9-7 record and a playoff appearance. However, he suffered a broken leg in the final game of the regular season and was forced to watch as Holcomb threw for over 400 yards in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. This was the beginning of a quarterback controversy in Cleveland that would not be resolved until a year later when head coach Butch Davis tapped Holcomb as his starter. By the end of the 2003 season, after exhausting both quarterbacks with the rotation, it became clear that Davis, struggling with a 5-11 football team, would never give Couch the opportunity to start again.

David Klingler (1992, 6th Overall)
(Career).. GAMES: 31 COMP: 375 ATT: 687 PCT: 51.7 YDS: 3,880 YPA: 5.7 TD: 16 INT: 21
A. SMITH GAMES: 32 COMP: 435 ATT: 800 PCT: 54.4 YDS: 4,679 YPA: 5.8 TD: 19 INT: 31

A 6'2" quarterback, Klingler rewrote numerous college passing records for the Cougars from 1988-1991. On November 17, 1990, Klinger threw 11 touchdown passes against Eastern Washington University at the Astrodome. In his four seasons at Houston, he completed 726 of 1,262 passes for 9,430 yards and 91 touchdowns, all of which were school records at the time. Klinger set the NCAA record for touchdown passes in a season with 54 in 1990. His single season touchdown pass record stood for 16 years until it was broken in the 2006 Hawaii Bowl by University of Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan with 58, though Brennan needed three more games than Klingler to break the record. Klinger made a valiant push to win the Heisman but was eventually beaten by Ty Detmer (winner) of Brigham Young and Raghib Ismail (runner-up) of Notre Dame. Klingler was taken in the 1st round of the 1992 Draft by the Bengals. From 1992 to 1995 he played for the Bengals - starting for the Bengals in 1993 and 1994 before losing his job to Jeff Blake. He then played two seasons as a backup for Oakland. In 1998, he signed with the Packers to back up Brett Favre, but he was cut and didn't play.

Heath Shuler (1993, 3rd Overall)
(Career).. GAMES: 30 COMP: 292 ATT: 593 PCT: 50.1 YDS: 3,691 YPA: 6.2 TD: 15 INT: 33
A. SMITH GAMES: 32 COMP: 435 ATT: 800 PCT: 54.4 YDS: 4,679 YPA: 5.8 TD: 19 INT: 31

At the University of Tennessee, Shuler gained national attention as one of the S.E.C.'s top quarterbacks. He held nearly all Volunteer passing records at the end of his career, although most of them have since been shattered by Peyton Manning. In 1993, he came in second in the vote for the Heisman. Shuler was selected third overall in the 1994 Draft by the Washington Redskins. He held out of training camp until he received a 7-year, $19.25 million contract. The Redskins had fallen on hard times since winning Super Bowl XXVI, and Shuler was looked on as the quarterback of the future. However, Shuler's poor play contributed to a quarterback controversy with fellow 1994 draft pick Gus Frerotte. Shuler started only 18 games in his first two years with the team and was benched in his third year, as Frerotte went to the pro bowl.
After the 1996 season, Shuler was traded to the Saints for a 5th round pick in the 1997 draft and a 3rd round pick in 1998. With less talent on the New Orleans roster, Shuler's statistics remained poor. He suffered a serious foot injury during the 1997 season in New Orleans and went through two surgeries. After being unable to take the field due to his foot injury in his second season in New Orleans, Shuler signed with Oakland, where he reinjured his foot in training camp and retired. As a pro, his career passer rating was a low 54.3 and in 2004 ESPN rated him the 17th biggest 'sports flop' of the past 25 years.

Rick Mirer (1993, 2nd Overall)
(3 SEASONS) GAMES: 44 COMP: 678 ATT: 1258 PCT: 53.7 YDS: 7,548 YPA: 6.0 TD: 36 INT: 43
A. SMITH......GAMES: 32 COMP: 435 ATT: 800 PCT: 54.4 YDS: 4,679 YPA: 5.8 TD: 19 INT: 31

This is the guy you might not automatically remember as a first round flop, because he did hang around a little longer in the league than the rest of these guys, but just as much was expected from Rick Mirer. He attended the University of Notre Dame from 1989-1992 accumulating a 29-7-1 record as starter including 3 bowl games. He began his tenure serving as backup to Tony Rice when Notre Dame won the national championship, then took the reins of the Notre Dame offense in 1990 and lead the team to the Orange Bowl. In 1991, Mirer set the single season touchdown record with 18 and was named co-MVP with teammate Jerome Bettis leading the Irish past Florida in the 1992 Sugar Bowl. He finished his career at Notre Dame by leading them to victory in the 1993 Cotton Bowl. Mirer accounted for more points running and throwing (350) than any other player in Notre Dame history. He left Notre Dame 1st in career touchdowns with 41 and 2nd all time for total offense, completions, and passing yards. Invited to play in the East-West Shrine Bowl, and Hula Bowl. Entering the 1993 Draft, he was hyped as the next Joe Montana. Mirer was selected with the second overall pick in the 1993 draft by the Seattle Seahawks, where he signed a five year, $15 million contract. In his rookie year, he set NFL rookie records for attempts, completions & yards, and became only the 3rd rookie quarterback since 1970 to start all of his teams games. He finished his rookie season 5th in the AFC with 274 completions and 2833 yards. On February 18, 1997 Mirer was traded with a 4th round pick in the '97 draft to Chicago for a 1st round draft pick. He signed a three-year, $11.4 million contract with Bears, but played sparingly in the 1997 season.Mirer was cut by the Bears in the beginning of the 1998 season, and signed with the Packers, who later traded him to the New York Jets in 1999, where he replaced an injured Vinny Testaverde as the Jets starter. He was released by the Jets at the end of the 1999 season, and was picked up by the 49ers as a backup to Jeff Garcia. In 2002, Mirer became the 3rd string quarterback for the , guess who, the Raiders!, and became the starter for part of 2003 after injuries to both Rich Gannon and Marques Tuiasosopo. The image of Al Davis as a salvage artist pulling former big names off the scrap heap is definitely a theme with this group. In 2004. Mirer was signed as the third string quarterback by the Detroit Lions, but saw no playing time. Mirer's hometown newspaper, The Goshen News, still hopes to someday run another "Mirer Meter" article, even if he has to play Arena Football. Late in 2007 Rick was pulled over for Drinking and Driving and also had two pounds of pot in his backseat. The Arena Football League has Suspended Rick for two years.

Ryan Leaf (1998, 2nd Overall)
(Career).. GAMES: 26 COMP: 317 ATT: 655 PCT: 48.1 YDS: 3,666 YPA: 5.5 TD: 14 INT: 36
A. SMITH GAMES: 32 COMP: 435 ATT: 800 PCT: 54.4 YDS: 4,679 YPA: 5.8 TD: 19 INT: 31

The granddaddy of all quarterback draft busts, there is definitely comparibles between Smith and Ryan Leaf statistically, even if they are polar opposites in attitude and maturity. When they entered the 1998 draft, Tennessee's Peyton Manning and Washington State's Leaf were widely considered to be the two best overall players in the draft. The San Diego Chargers held the third pick of the draft, but made a trade with the Arizona Cardinals to guarantee their team would get one of the two quarterbacks. To move up to the second pick in the draft, the Chargers traded two first-round picks, a second-round pick, reserve linebacker Patrick Sapp and four-time Pro Bowler Eric Metcalf. There was some debate leading up to the draft as to whether Leaf or Manning should be selected first. At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Leaf was bigger and stronger, but most analysts agreed that Manning was the more mature player and the consensus top choice. However, differences in potential between the two seemed small enough that most observers expected it would not greatly matter whether a team selected Manning or Leaf. On draft day, Manning was selected first by the Indianapolis Colts; Leaf was selected second by the Chargers. Since that time, Manning has won a Super Bowl, set the single-season touchdown pass record, and become an almost certain first-ballot Hall of Famer for the Colts, while Leaf's short career was spoiled by poor play and off-field incidents. Other quarterbacks in that year's draft included current NFL quarterbacks journeyman Brian Griese and Seahawks starter Matt Hasselbeck. Following the draft, the Chargers signed Leaf to a four-year contract worth $31.25 million, including a guaranteed $11.25 million signing bonus. It was, at the time, the largest signing bonus ever paid to a rookie. Shortly after being drafted, Leaf declared, "I'm looking forward to a 15 year career, a couple of trips to the Super Bowl, and a parade through downtown San Diego." San Diego's high hopes for Leaf were soon dashed, as his rookie season was marked by poor performances. Before the season started, Leaf was fined for skipping a symposium that was mandatory for all newly-drafted players. Leaf did well in the preseason and won his first two games as a rookie, becoming the first quarterback to do so since John Elway in 1983. But in the third game of the season, Leaf completed one of fifteen passes for 4 yards and fumbled three times in a loss against Kansas City. He was benched after throwing two touchdown passes and thirteen interceptions in nine games, and replaced by quarterback Craig Whelihan. After ten games, Leaf had thrown two more interceptions, passing for a total of 1,289 yards, with a 45.3 percent completion rate and a paltry quarterback rating of 39. Leaf had poor relationships with the media and his teammates, whom he tended to blame for his poor play. In one infamous locker room incident during Leaf's rookie year, he was caught on-camera screaming at San Diego Union Tribune reporter Jay Posner, "Don't fucking talk to me, all right! Knock it off!" and had to be physically restrained by teammate Junior Seau. Another on-camera incident involved Leaf confronting a heckling Chargers fan during a practice session. Two coaches had to restrain Leaf and escort him off the field. His relationship with then-Chargers safety Rodney Harrison was notoriously acrimonious, and Harrison described being a member of the Chargers during Leaf's rookie season as "a nightmare you can't even imagine". After hearing news of Leaf's retirement in 2002, Harrison was quoted as saying "He probably did the best thing; he took his money and ran." Leaf missed his entire second season due to a shoulder injury uncovered by a preseason physical. He was placed on injured reserve but made headlines for getting into a heated shouting match with Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard and another coach. The incident resulted in a fine, a suspension without pay, and Leaf apologizing four weeks later. Leaf also allegedly lied about a hand injury to get out of practice so he could play golf instead. Leaf started the first two games of the 2000 season, only to complete less than half of his pass attempts, and throw for five interceptions and one touchdown. When backup Moses Moreno went down with a strained knee ligament, the Chargers gave Leaf more playing time. However, he injured his wrist while throwing an interception in a week four game and did not play again until week eleven. Following more poor performances and injury problems, he was released by the Chargers after the season, with a record of only four wins as a starter in three years.

In closing, you be the judge. Some other notable first round flops, still in the making would have to include Mike Vick, 2001, 1st Overall, David Carr, 2002, 1st Overall, and Joey Harrington, 2002, 3rd Overall. Smith may make some miraculous turn-around, but don't count on it. He either won't figure it out, or an impatient Mike Nolan will throw him under the bus to attempt to save his own hyde. While I would be surprised if Smith is not on the Niners' roster next season to be at least given one last chance to compete for a roster spot, and reduce his cap number a bit more, I think he is done as a starter in San Francisco. As a person, and a young man, he is everything you could want in a field leader for your franchise - far better than most of these guys, but the end result is the same I'm afraid.

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