NFC West: Archie Manning

Alex Smith's candidacy as the San Francisco 49ers' starting quarterback heading into 2011 sent me searching for some context.

The charts show some initial findings.

Smith
The first one shows quarterbacks since 1970 who met the following criteria, as provided by Pro Football Reference:
  • First-round draft choice;
  • Has thrown between 40 and 60 touchdown passes;
  • Career passer rating was no higher than 85.0;
  • Has played in no more than six seasons.

Smith's new coach, Jim Harbaugh, is one of the players on the list. Some of the players enjoyed moderately successful careers. Vince Young, Greg Landry, Harbaugh, Dan Pastorini and Archie Manning were named to at least one Pro Bowl.


The second chart eliminates Smith's statistically horrible rookie season, when he had one touchdown and 11 interceptions for a very bad team.

It shows statistics for quarterbacks drafted in first rounds since 1970 based on the following criteria, also according to Pro Football Reference:
  • Second through sixth seasons only;
  • Had thrown between 40 and 55 touchdown passes;
  • Had thrown no more than 45 interceptions;
  • Had started at least 40 games during this period.

Harbaugh again makes the list, but I was most struck by similarities between the numbers for Smith and Harbaugh's old teammate, Jim McMahon.

Smith and McMahon could not be less similar in terms of personality, overall approach, supporting cast and on-field results. McMahon went 22-1 as a starter from 1985-87.

The Harbaugh comparison is much more relevant. Both players failed to meet expectations early in their careers despite their diligence. Harbaugh's personality was much more aggressive, however, and that raises a very fair but harsh question: Does Smith have the right makeup to salvage his career in a manner the way Harbaugh did after leaving Chicago?

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee outlines reasons why the 49ers will not make a play for Rams restricted free-agent safety Oshiomogho Atogwe. Dashon Goldson is one of those reasons. Barrows: "Atogwe turns 29 later this month; Goldson turns 26 in September. Goldson had a nice season last year, starting all 16 games and finishing with four interceptions, three forced fumbles and 94 tackles, which was second only to Patrick Willis. (Atogwe's 2009 numbers: 12 starts, two INTs, three forced fumbles and 74 tackles) The problem -- from the team's perspective -- is that Goldson wants top dollar based solely on one season. He started only two games in the two years prior." Atogwe can become a free agent if the Rams do not upgrade their offer to him or reach agreement with him Tuesday. Upgrading the offer to nearly $7 million appears unlikely.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers drafted linebacker Navorro Bowman largely because of the prospect's speed. Maiocco: "Bowman might not get on the field much on defense this season, but he should be a valuable special-teams player because of his speed. He was timed at 4.70 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine. Niners personnel chief Trent Baalke said the 49ers like Bowman's physical style, his ability to make plays in space and his passion. Those qualities should serve him well as a projected core special teams contributor."

Also from Maiocco: The 49ers will "never" move to Los Angeles. Maiocco: "Niners president and CEO Jed York never said 'L.A.' or 'Los Angeles' when I interviewed him this week. I said it for him. And he answered. He said the 49ers have not discussed a move out of the Bay Area. But, he noted, the best way for the 49ers to be guaranteed a permanent home here is to win the ballot measure in Santa Clara on June 8. Fair enough. But the NFL would never allow an iconic franchise such as the 49ers to leave Northern California - regardless of what happens June 8 in Santa Clara."

Howard Ulman of The Associated Press checks in with former Rams receiver Torry Holt, who has this to say about his transition to the Patriots: "I think I fit in well. They're guys that I can learn from (to) fit in where I see fit or where the coaching staff sees I fit."

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers great Jerry Rice is officially a bust, in a good way. Sculptor Brian Buswell is the one responsible for Rice's Hall of Fame likeness. Crumpacker: "For this job, Rice insisted that Buswell give him a neatly-trimmed beard with a clean-shaven head, a look he sported in the last years of his career. Busts with beards can be hard for a sculptor to pull off, but when the light caught it just right, the beard looked as natural in clay as it did on the man." Rice: "The beard is straight-up badass."

Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle says much is at stake for York in the 49ers' drive to build a new stadium.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times puts LenDale White's release from the Seahawks in perspective, noting that White is the latest high-profile back to fall out of favor with the team. O'Neil: "Shaun Alexander stuck around for two years after the team re-signed the league's MVP in 2006. T.J. Duckett? He lasted a year, but Edgerrin James got only seven games. And now, LenDale White's tenure lasted all of 35 days. ... Now? Well, now if Washington isn't ready to go, the Seahawks' backfield contingent could wind up being largely the same as it was a year ago, and if I told you that heading into the draft, there would have been plenty of people stomping around, wondering just how this team could really expect to improve offensively."

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with former Seahawks quarterback Brock Huard for a closer look at the Huard family. Boling: "The Huard patriarch, Mike is already in the Washington Coaches’ Hall of Fame after putting together a 143-38 record -– and winning the 1987 Class 4A state championship -– in 17 seasons as football coach at Puyallup High. Given the successes of his sons, Damon, Brock and Luke, Mike Huard might not quite challenge Archie Manning, but is nonetheless in elite company when it comes to the parenting of talented quarterbacks."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals aren't overly concerned about linebacker Gerald Hayes' bad back. Urban: "I have talked to someone else about Hayes’ back and I was given the same vibe -- that they expect Hayes to be OK. Things can change, of course, and any back problems for a player who has been around eight years does make you think. And given his long tenure, it’s probably about the time to be thinking about life after Hayes too, and grooming a possible replacement. But Hayes hasn’t missed more than two games in a season since he blew out his knee in the preseason of 2005. If Hayes were to miss a bunch of training camp time, then I think you worry. But OTA time? It’s tough to get worked up in May/June. Caution is always the watchword. When in doubt, let a guy sit. No reason to push it."

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