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Friday, February 4, 2011
Steve Young: State of 49ers' QB situation

By Mike Sando

FORT WORTH, Texas -- For the second time, a big thanks goes to Hall of Fame quarterback and ESPN analyst Steve Young for taking time Friday morning to discuss quarterback situations for each NFC West team.

I'm breaking out his thoughts and adding my own, continuing with a look at the situation in San Francisco, where coach Jim Harbaugh is installing a new offense.

Steve Young: They have a decent team and they have some great offensive weapons. I think you would be tempted to find somebody -- let's just say Kyle Orton or Matt Hasselbeck. Not that they are available, not that that is necessarily possible, but just guys with the kind of experience I am talking about that can come in with an offensive-minded coach, they can work together, they can get him protected, which I think they will do at San Francisco. To me, you could get decent pretty fast offensively. In the background, you have to find the answer for the long term. But there are teams that have been trying to do that for 35 years. I do not think there is really a secret there. Hopefully, there's a diamond in the rough. What we have now in San Francisco for the first time in a decade is a system in place, a coach in place, that can actually take a young player and develop him and actually get the most out of him, instead of the least. I think that we got the least out of Alex [Smith], and I do not think that is all Alex's fault.

My thoughts: Amen to that. The 49ers are a competent veteran quarterback away from becoming a team that wins some of the close games it has lost so excruciatingly in recent seasons. We're largely past assigning blame for what went wrong during Smith's tenure as quarterback. We know he wasn't ideally suited for a pro offense, at least initially. We know he's had injuries. We know the 49ers have mishandled him. We know the team has run through multiple coordinators. The forensic evidence has been examined and reexamined, but it only matters this offseason if Harbaugh cannot find anyone better for the short term. Bringing back Smith could conceivably become an option under such a circumstance. I just think the 49ers are in position to part with a draft choice or draft choices to acquire a quarterback and start getting more from their offense.