NFL Nation: Ted Tollner

Finding next home for 49ers' Alex Smith

February, 19, 2013
2/19/13
11:00
AM ET
In eight seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Alex Smith has played for three head coaches, seven offensive coordinators and six quarterbacks coaches (seven if you count Pep Hamilton, who helped Jim Hostler coach the position in 2006).

These many associations would seem to increase exponentially the number of likely landing spots for Smith as a free agent or trade candidate this offseason.

A closer look suggests that might not be the case.

Smith's connections with former head coaches Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary would actually deter reunions. Neither would be in position to push for landing Smith, anyway. Nolan's Atlanta Falcons don't need a quarterback.

Former 49ers offensive coordinator Norv Turner could potentially need a quarterback in Cleveland. The team's other former Smith-era coordinators wouldn't be in position to help. Mike McCarthy's Green Bay Packers are obviously set at the position. Mike Martz is a color commentator for Fox. Hostler coaches wide receivers for the Joe Flacco-led Baltimore Ravens. Jimmy Raye worked last season as a senior offensive assistant with Tampa Bay. Michael Johnson was out of the NFL.

Hostler and Johnson were also among the Smith-era quarterbacks coaches in San Francisco. Another, Frank Cignetti, coaches the position for the Sam Bradford-led St. Louis Rams. Another, Ted Tollner, is no longer coaching. Another, Jason Michael, coaches tight ends for the Philip Rivers-led San Diego Chargers. Hamilton, meanwhile, is offensive coordinator for the Andrew Luck-led Indianapolis Colts.

Even a run through former position coaches for the 49ers' receivers, tight ends and offensive line turns up more dead ends than fresh leads. Former tight ends coach Pete Hoener coaches the position for the Cam Newton-led Carolina Panthers. Former line coach Chris Foerster coaches the position for the Robert Griffin III-led Washington Redskins. Another former line coach, George Warhop, is with Turner in Cleveland.

The 49ers' longtime former receivers coach, Jerry Sullivan, coaches the same position for Jacksonville. New Jaguars coach Gus Bradley would be familiar with Smith from his days coordinating the Seattle Seahawks' defense. But Jacksonville would make much greater sense as a landing spot for Smith if the 49ers' current offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, had become the Jaguars' head coach. That had been the expectation until the 49ers' deep playoff run complicated efforts to hire Roman.

There still could be a market for Smith, of course. But in a league built on connections and relationships, it's tough to find many likely to influence where Smith winds up next season. That is partly because the 49ers have kept together their current staff under head coach Jim Harbaugh. The coaches most closely associated with Smith's recent revival remain under contract to the team. That was great for Smith when he was starting, but it won't help him find his next job.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune takes a comprehensive look at Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart, on and off the field. The party-boy pictures that emerged in the spring had a "devastating" impact on Leinart, coach Ken Whisenhunt said. Leinart: "I've learned a lot in the last couple of years. You grow up. You become a father."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com recalls Leinart's previous visit to Oakland, where a 7-year-old showered him with vulgarities.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle quotes 49ers coach Mike Nolan as describing the decision to start J.T. O'Sullivan as a "unanimous" choice involving Nolan, general manager Scot McCloughan, offensive coordinator Mike Martz and quarterbacks coach Ted Tollner.

Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle compares Alex Smith to Barry Zito and says the 49ers should trade him right now. Jenkins: "Both men are smart, well-spoken and endearing. Each arrived in San Francisco with a handsome track record and a ton of promise. Unfortunately, each has reached the point where even their most ardent fans can hardly bear to watch. Anything but to witness a good man take another hit to his reputation."

Cam Inman of the Contra Costa Times applies the "bust" label to the 49ers' Smith. "Oh, that could change," Inman allows, "if he turns up down the road as the next Jim Plunkett instead of the next Jim Druckenmiller."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says rookie first-round choice Lawrence Jackson has impressed Seattle veterans with a mind open to learning. Patrick Kerney: "Rushing the passer, it's a chess game. There's so much that goes into it. And Lawrence has that, I think. That philosophy, if you will."

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu is slowly warming to the idea of wearing the radio headset during games. Linebackers coach Zerick Rollins: "The big thing for Lofa, he really doesn't like to have anybody in his ear on game day. So, for the first couple of times, I've just tried to give him the call and let him get used to it." Tatupu is a smart, instinctive player. I'm not sure how much better he'll be stopping to process what a coach might be saying.

Eric D. Johnson of the Tacoma News Tribune says Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck probably won't even travel to San Diego for the final exhibition game Monday night. Hasselbeck is resting a sore back. The Seahawks want him ready for the regular season.

Scott Johnson of the Everett Herald checks in with Seattle players likely to receive their release in the not-too-distant future. The players say they appreciate the opportunity no matter what -- not that they're in position to say anything else.

Also from Johnson: Seattle's starting offensive line hasn't been on the field together for a single practice during training camp.

Jm Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are looking for quarterback Marc Bulger to improve upon shaky play this exhibition season. Thomas lists extenuating circumstances behind Bulger's problems, but the bottom line is this: "Through two preseason games, Bulger has a passer rating of only 14.1, completing 10 of 23 passes for 85 yards with three interceptions and no touchdowns."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Rams defensive lineman Victor Adeyanju, and before I continue, let me recommend clicking on the link to check out the ridiculous cast/wrap Adeyanju is wearing on his right hand. As Adeyanju, the Rams' best run-defending lineman, put it: "It feels like you're carrying a baby."

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