Tag:Colin Kaepernick
Posted on: February 8, 2012 10:27 pm
 

Harbaugh wants Smith back in SF as starting QB

Smith could be back.  (Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com)
By Ryan Wilson

Jim Harbaugh has been an Alex Smith supporter at least as far back as last summer when, during the lockout, the first-year 49ers head coach announced that he wanted the then-free agent quarterback in San Francisco as his starter. This must've seemed odd to Smith, whose NFL career up to that point had been full of underachievement and disappointment (though, to be fair, it wasn't completely his fault; this is what happens when you play in an new offense virtually every season in an organization that lacked stability until recently).

Now fresh off a 13-3 season, the NFC West title, and a trip to the NFC Championship Game, Harbaugh wants Smith, set to be a free agent in March, back for 2012. Even though the team selected quarterback-of-the-future Colin Kaepernick in the second round of the 2011 draft. Smith finished the season with 3,144 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and ranked 13th in Football Outsiders' quarterback efficiency metric ahead of Joe Flacco and Cam Newton.

Three days after Smith accepted the NFL Coach of the Year award on behalf of Harbaugh at the inaugural NFL Awards during Super Bowl Weekend in Indy, the two played golf together at a Pebble Beach charity event. (And via CSNBayArea.com's Matt Maiocco, Smith will serve as Harbaugh's caddie on Day 1 of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.) To hear the 49ers head coach, it sounds like he's in no hurry to break up the band.

"We're all in lockstep as an organization that Alex Smith is our guy. It's well-documented. You saw the way he played this year," Harbaugh told "Chronicle Live" host Jim Kozimor, according to Maiocco. "(He is a) tremendous leader on our football team.

"There's Alex and there are other guys, too, that are high priorities. We want our guys. There are guys who play like 49ers, and what they do is they play their hearts out for our team. So Alex and others, (it's) going to be a high-priority to get those guys signed."

Despite a career year, Smith understands he has to improve.

"For me, it's all about strengthening your weaknesses -- getting better," Smith said, "really analyzing where you need to get better and being honest with yourself, as a player and as a team. That's what will happen in the coming weeks."

The 49ers were a fantastic story in 2011 but the real test will be if they can sustain their success from one season to the next.

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 12:03 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2012 1:11 pm
 

Jim Harbaugh wants Alex Smith back in 2012

Harbaugh is excited about bringing Smith back for another season. (Getty Images/US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Jim Harbaugh said it over the summer and now, six months later, his story remains unchanged: he wants quarterback Alex Smith back in San Francisco next year. Smith's first six NFL seasons can kindly be described as tumultuous; a mix of ever-changing schemes and coordinators that resulting in inconsistent play and occasional benchings.

But under Harbaugh, Smith has flourished. The first-overall selection in the 2005 draft has benefitted from a quick-pass offense that relies heavily on the running game and a stingy defense. It worked so well that the 49ers went 13-3, won the NFC West going away, and now have a first-round bye.

On Monday, Harbaugh reiterated that Smith was his guy.

"I've told Alex that," Harbaugh said according to CSNBayArea.com's Matt Maiocco. "I wouldn't tell you (the media) something I wouldn't tell Alex.

"I told Alex, 'Hey, we're going to want you to come back here next year.' He's focused on the season, and that's where his mindset wants to be. And I totally respect that, and we'll talk about it and address it once the season is over. That's the way I understand it right now."

It's funny. Over the summer, Smith's NFL future was up in the air. The 49ers could've decided to move on, find a veteran quarterback to bridge the gap to 2011 second-round pick Colin Kaepernick, and turned the page on the Alex Smith era. Instead, Harbaugh kept Smith around, saved his career, and probably made him a lot of money in the process.

We wrote Monday that while the NFL might be a passing league but it's woefully short on passers. Smith isn't Joe Montana (or even Jeff Garcia) but in the right offense he's efficient and doesn't make mistakes. Based on the 2011 49ers, that can carry a team a long way.

And it's why Harbaugh wants Smith back in San Francisco for 2012. Beyond that, who knows. Which is why Smith might want to get while the getting's good, cash in on a lucrative long-term deal and play elsewhere next season. Then again, he owes Harbaugh for saving his career. Maybe loyalty is more important than money.

Either way, these are good problems to have. Usually this time of year we're talking about who should replace the current coach and/or quarterback. Instead the 49ers are preparing to host a playoff game for the first time since the 2002 season.

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Posted on: September 1, 2011 3:42 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2011 4:31 pm
 

Harbaugh thinks Smith can develop into a good QB

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Fair or not, Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers will forever be linked. The first two quarterbacks drafted in 2005, Smith was taken No. 1 by the 49ers, and Rodgers, who many thought was worthy of the top pick, sat in the green room for several uncomfortable hours until the Packers took mercy on him and selected him 24th overall.

Now more than six years later, Rodgers is a Super Bowl champ and Smith is, well, still trying to establish himself as a competent NFL quarterback. It hasn't helped that Smith has had a revolving door of head coaches, offensive coordinators and new offenses to learn. But things are different in San Francisco. New coach Jim Harbaugh gives Smith something he hasn't had previously: stability and support.

Way back in June, just as the lockout was heating up, Harbaugh said Smith's decision to return to the 49ers required "a rare kind of character, it probably falls somewhere in the endangered and extinct range, so we can win with that."

Smith eventually agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal and all indications are that he will be the starters in 2011, despite the team taking Colin Kaepernick in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Harbaugh recently appeared on San Diego sports radio to talk about Smith's role with the team this season (via SportsRadioInterviews.com).

"Yes he can (develop into a good starting quarterback). The things that have occurred over the first seven years of Alex’s career have been good," Harbaugh said. "There has been some tough times, but all those experiences I believe lead to success. You never know what path it is going to take or what’s going to transpire to get Alex and our franchise to where we want to go, so just with continuous effort just keep plugging away and he’s done a great job of that. He’s been mentally tough guy. He’s been physically tough and a strong young man. It’s been a pleasure to work with him and hopefully we are doing everything we can to make our team better and get Alex and us where we want to go.” 


The Seattle Seahawks look to take the division once again as the Cardinals, 49ers and Rams are eager to take the top spot. Who will finish on top? NFL.com's Pat Kirwan joins Jason Horowitz to preview the NFC West this season.

Smith may not have much in the way of actual results to show for it, but he's proven through his actions that he's a tough dude. Of course, the NFL scrap heap if full of guys who could take a beating. Having a high tolerance for pain doesn't magically equate to success. But again, that could have more to do with the transient nature of the 49ers' coaching staff during Smith's career than his ability to lead a team.

We've often wondered what Rodgers' career would look like if he ended up in San Francisco. Maybe they would be coming off a championship season. More likely: they wouldn't be much different than the team we see now. Yes, franchise quarterbacks are vitally important, but having a steady presence in the front office can't be understated, either.

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Posted on: August 17, 2011 7:00 pm
 

49ers sign Josh McCown, not Daunte Culpepper

Posted by Will Brinson

The 49ers are a team that's making no bones about their quarterback situation: they brought Daunte Culpepper in for a workout on Monday and on Wednesday they signed 32-year-old Josh McCown to a one-year deal, the team announced Wednesday.

Per our 49ers Rapid Reporter Michael Erier, the deal is worth the veteran's minimum of $810,000.

McCown has 31 starts in his NFL career and has played with the Cardinals, Lions, Raiders and Panthers since he entered the league in 2002. McCown's completed 57.7 percent of his passes over that time while throwing 35 touchdowns against 40 interceptions.

So, pretty pedestrian.

Which is heavily indicative of the problems that San Francisco has with its quarterback position -- Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick were supposed to provide a bridge to the future and the future, respectively, but it's patently obvious at this point that Jim Harbaugh doesn't trust either to help the 49ers succeed immediately.

It's also let's the world know just how good Culpepper looked in his workout on Monday. Which is to say, "not very."

It's hard to blame Harbaugh for his desperation, given that Smith has struggled mightily since being drafted first overall in the 2005 NFL Draft and Kaepernick's just a rookie.

The cynic will tell you that the "good news" is the 49ers are in prime position to make a run at top prospect (and former Harbaugh protégé) Andrew Luck.

The optimist will tell you that it's a good thing Smith only signed a one-year deal this offseason.

But good luck finding an football-related optimist anywhere near the San Fran metro area.

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Posted on: August 17, 2011 4:24 pm
 

Roundtable: Which rookie QB will help the most?

C. Newton could be one of the breakout rookie QBs this year (Getty).

Posted by Eye on Football staff

Well, we're a week into the preseason and that means we know everything about everyone. Or nothing at all. Whatever, we got our first glimpses of the NFL's newest rookie quarterbacks and that leads us to the question: What rookie quarterback will help his team the most?

Will Brinson: Go ahead and cue up about 15 "Panthers homer" comments in the next few paragraphs, but I don't care: Cam Newton. The guy's a freak-a-deak athlete with a firehose attached to his right shoulder and he's going to get a chance to produce. Unfortunately, that firehose thing can also be bad if Newton can't control his accuracy. And it's possible that Jimmy Clausen -- who looked better than terrible after he threw a pick six on his second passing attempt -- could be the safer option for Carolina. But Newton gets the fanbase amped and he's already shown exponential growth since we last saw him throwing passes. Putting him in the proverbial fire's the way to go and he'll be a difference maker for Carolina in both the stands and the field.

Josh Katzowitz: Will, I couldn't agree with you more. I don't know if Newton will help his team that much more on the field than Clausen would have -- I'm willing to bet heavily on the odds that there are going to be games when Newton is ABSOLUTELY terrible and people are going to be saying, "Yeah, buddy, the NFL is a little different than the limited offense you ran at Auburn, eh?" (these people, of course, will be Canadians who care way too much about SEC football) -- but as far as starpower is concerned, Newton is the one. I don't care if he privately looks at himself as an entertainer and an icon. He's got that huge smile and he's got that charisma, and eventually, the stink of whatever NCAA rules his dad might have violated will wash away.

That said, I don't think he's going to contend for any rookie of the year honors, because as the season goes along, defenses are going to begin to figure out Newton. Actually, I think the real answer to your question about which rookie will help his team the most will end up being Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco, assuming he stays healthy behind that poor offensive line. Alex Smith will continue to be Alex Smith, and midway through the season, Jim Harbaugh will call upon Kaepernick to replace Smith and win a few games for the 49ers. And I think he'll do it, especially in the NFC West, hastening Smith's departure (which, when you think about it, might be the single biggest reason how Kaepernick impacts the team). Newton will help his franchise the most, but Kaepernick will help his team the most.

Ryan Wilson
: We talked about it (at length, I might add) and Newton was impressive. I know, it's just one preseason game, but the guy's come a long way since February, the Auburn scandal, and the silly comments about being an entertainer and an icon.

And let's be honest, he's energized fans that had every reason to lose all hope and commit their energies to supporting NASCAR full time. That can't be understated. Winning is obviously the goal, but Panthers fans will find reasons for optimism if the Panthers can win five or six games. So in terms of therapeutic value for a downtrodden fan base, Newton is this season's most valuable QB.

A. Dalton could be the starting QB in Cincinnati (Getty). But if we're talking about a QB who has a chance to play and help his team win enough games to battle for a playoff spot, I'm going with Christian Ponder. Partly because Myron Rolle thinks he's a genius, but also because Donovan McNabb has become a punchline in recent years. How long until he's yanked in favor of Ponder? Four weeks? Remember: this is the guy who not only lost his job to Rex Grossman last season, he was eventually demoted to third string behind John Beck, he of four career starts, all losses, all coming in 2007.

Brinson: Well, we're one full turn around the table and the only person we haven't talked about is the only guy who's virtually guaranteed to start Week 1: Andy Dalton.

So, um, yeaaaaaaah.

What does that say about the Bengals? (And why do I have the feeling Josh will try to defend them?) I guess it says either that "We don't respect Andy Dalton," "We forgot about Andy Dalton," or "Even if Andy Dalton was Peyton Manning, he wouldn't be saving the Bengals from certain doom in 2011."

Perhaps it's all three?

Wilson: I didn't mention Andy Dalton for the same reason I don't think about paying my mortgage every day: if I ignore it, it don't exist. It's a coping mechanism. In Dalton's case, it means I'm not constantly reminded of what the 2011 season inevitably holds for him: pain, misery, disappointment -- all words that have become synonymous with the Bengals in recent years.

(Just look what the madness did to even-keeled Carson Palmer -- it drove him right into retirement in what should be the prime of his career. Think about that for a minute. Things were so god-awful in Cincinnati that Palmer would rather sit around the house doing crosswords than get caught up in tiger-striped maelstrom for another season.)

While we shouldn't put too much stock in first-ever preseason performances, Dalton's got his introduction to big-boy football from, fittingly, Ndamukong Suh. And I feel that was just a preview of things to come in 2011 (for both Dalton and Suh). So, yeah, it's pretty easy to be down on Dalton, more because he's a victim of circumstance. Which is why I don't want to think about it.

Brinson: Thanks for the reminder on the mortgage payment, jerk. Speaking of which, if there's one thing that the Panthers, 49ers, Titans, Vikings, Jaguars and Bengals have in common it's that they mortgaged their future on the talents of the 2011 NFL Draft class. With that in mind, let's wrap up this puppy up by making a list -- how do you gents rank the rookies in terms of impact on the 2011 season? Here's mine. Don't copy it.

1. Cam Newton
2. Blaine Gabbert
3. Andy Dalton
4. Christian Ponder
5. Jake Locker
6. Colin Kaepernick
7. Ryan Mallet
8. Terrelle Pryor

PonderWilson: No matter the list -- or the topic -- one thing is assured: Brinson will put Cam Newton at the top of it. Panthers fan solidarity and whatnot.

Back on Earth...

1. Christian Ponder (He'll be starting before the end of Sept.)
2. Colin Kaepernick (See above)
3. Blaine Gabbert (He'll be starting before Halloween)
4. Cam Newton (The next Jimmy Clausen? JOKE. Clearly, he's the next Chris Weinke.)
5. Andy Dalton (Must've been a serial killer in a previous life to get stuck with this fate.)
6. Jake Locker (Should only play if Hasselbeck gets injured.)
7. Ryan Mallett (Bill Belichick is a genius. That is all.)
8. Terrelle Pryor (But he's a first-round pick!)

Katzowitz: Just in case, Will needs a reminder: Here's my takedown of Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis in that ridiculous news conference they called to announce that Lewis would return for another season, and here's what I wrote about the Bengals' lack of a practice bubble. I lived in Cincinnati for six years, but believe me when I say that I think the Bengals are an incompetent mess (though, personally, I think Mike Brown is a nice man).

My list (the correct one):

1. Colin Kaepernick (If Mike Singletary thought about replacing Alex Smith with David Carr (!) last season, Jim Harbaugh shouldn't have a problem replacing Smith with Kaepernick)
2. Christian Ponder (Because he's better than Rex Grossman, and since Grossman is better than Donovan McNabb ...)
3. Cam Newton (How disturbing would it be if Clausen actually won the starting job?)
4. Andy Dalton (He still has Cedric Benson to lean on)
5. Blaine Gabbert (I'm not sure he can beat out David Garrard, and I'm not sure Garrard will be bad enough this year to warrant starting Gabbert)
6. Jake Locker (Locker will get tons of help from Hasselbeck)
7. Ryan Mallett (He won't even beat out Brian Hoyer to be Brady's backup)
8. Terrelle Pryor (I don't know, maybe, he could be an effective NFL TE?)

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Posted on: August 14, 2011 8:42 pm
 

49ers 'kicking tires' on Daunte Culpepper

Posted by Will Brinson

Daunte Culpepper hasn't had gainful employment in the NFL since 2009 and given the current set of quarterbacks employed by a number of teams, it's a bit surprising.

But he'll have a shot at getting back in the league on Monday, when he works out for Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers.

That news, originally reported by Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network, has since been confirmed by Harbaugh himself, who said, per Jaymee Sire of Comcast, that he's looking forward to "kicking tires."

Harbaugh said earlier on Sunday that should "the right person (becomes) available" the 49ers would certainly be interested in pursuing an additional roster spot.

Such news comes on the heels of Harbaugh's decision to leave the quarterback battle wide open.

"There isn’t a clear cut winner so far," he said following the Niners poor showing in New Orleans during the first week of the preseason.

And while Culpepper, who last went 0-5 with the Lions while throwing three touchdowns and six interceptions in 2009, might not be the answer, it's clear that 49ers fans are already fed up with Alex Smith. Again.

Per our 49ers Rapid Reporter Michael Erier, the fans at Candlestick Park for practice on Sunday were "absolutely letting him have it, booing loudly after every incompletion."

It's hard to imagine that Culpepper is going to suddenly make the 49ers Super Bowl favorites. But right now, it's becoming clear that Harbaugh doesn't feel comfortable with either Smith or rookie Colin Kaepernick beginning the season as the team's starter.

Which is why it certainly doesn't hurt to take a look and kick some tires.

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Posted on: August 11, 2011 4:27 pm
 

Hot Routes 8.11.11: Osi could return Monday



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • Looks like Chargers LT Marcus McNeil will miss the first two preseason games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs from his knee. "It’s one of those things if you were working through May and June," Norv Turner said, "some of that gets out of the way earlier.”
  • Steelers rookie Baron Batch tore his ACL at practice Wednesday, and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette wonders if it occurred because the team practiced on artificial turf. Remember, Heinz Field is natural grass, because the Steelers believe it cuts down on injuries.
  • As we’ve all been taught, pimping ain’t easy. Especially if you’re the guy who set up Lawrence Taylor with his prostitute.
  • After being suspended for all of last year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, former Falcons DB Jimmy Williams has been reinstated by the league.
  • The Dolphins would prefer their fans NOT to post videos of practice online, thanks very much. You know, the whole competitive disadvantage thing.

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Posted on: July 28, 2011 2:32 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 11:15 pm
 

2011 NFL Draft rookie contracts coming in

Posted by Will Brinson

There's been plenty of action in free agency thus far (don't forget to follow it all in our live, updating Experience and with our 2011 NFL Free Agency Tracker!), but it also warrants mentioning that there have been a good number of first-round draft picks signed by various teams over the past few days.

Interestingly, many of these players who are signing have received fully guaranteed contracts, something you don't typically see with rookies, even though the total contracts, because of the new rookie wage system, are coming in lower than previous years.

For instance, the Cowboys signed Tyson Smith, their top pick, likely right tackle for 2011 and eventual successor to Doug Free, to a four-year, $12.5 million deal which is entirely guaranteed. By contrast, C.J. Spiller, taken in the same spot last season by the Bills, received a five-year, $25 million deal with $20.5 million guaranteed.

The Bengals signed Georgia wideout A.J. Green to a four-year, $19.6 million deal, all of which is also guaranteed, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy. (Trent Williams, by contrast, got $60 million with $36.5 guaranteed out of the No. 4 slot from the Redskins in 2010.)

The 49ers reported via Twitter that they've signed all their draft picks, including second-round quarterback Colin Kaepernick (four-year deal) and first-round defensive end Aldon Smith. Financials haven't been put out yet.

The same goes for the Buccaneers, who signed first- and second-round picks Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers (deets on the monies aren't out yet last I checked).

In Denver, Von Miller is "expected" to sign a four-year, $21-million deal with the Broncos soon. He probably would have seen up to $50 million more (not all guaranteed, of course) under the old rookie salary system. The ironic part? He was a named plaintiff on the Brady v. NFL lawsuit. It's worth noting that Miller's not sweating losing any pile of money and says he "plans on getting three, four, five contracts."

[(UPDATED 4:47 p.m. ET): John Elway confirms the team has agreed to terms with Miller. Wrote Elway on his Twitter feed: "Can't wait to get him on the field."]

The final thing to remember as the first-year player contracts start to come in? There's a fifth-year team option built into these four-year deals, and that deal must be picked up by the end of the third year or else the amount owed balloons to an average of the top-10 salaries at the position.

If a player performs well in his first three seasons then, he stands to either get locked for a fifth year or find himself inked to a new contract sooner than he expected.

Everything's not all roses, though. Agent Jack Bechta writes at the National Football Post that some teams are utilizing dollars for later-round picks and allocating them towards first rounders. It's not happening often, at least right now, but Bechta cites it as a "disturbing trend" because it's something that could potentially create a false inflation system for first-round picks as agents try to get more money than the player drafted the previous year.

There's not telling how often that will happen going forward, but it's still a bit concerning as the rookies current wages are pushed back because of the new CBA.

On the bright side, if shifting salaries does happen, it's a lot less likely that JaMarcus Russell remains the biggest NFL Draft bust forever. So there's that.

UPDATED 7:48 p.m. ET: The Jaguars have announced that No. 10 overall pick, QB Blaine Gabbert, has signed his contract.

UPDATED 11:14 p.m. ET: No. 13 pick Nick Fairley has signed a four-year deal worth about $10 million with the Lions.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com