After four new offensive coordinators in each year of his short NFL career, former Utah and now San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Alex Smith has been place on injured reserve after injuring his shoulder in practice last Friday. Once a player goes on IR, he can’t be taken off until the next season, so that closes the 2008 campaign for Smith.
I was there in 2005 when Smith was drafted amid some controversy by the 49ers, who were trying to decide between Smith and California Quaterback Aaron Rogers, who’s now the starter for Green Bay after being there first round pick, 21 positions behind Smith that year. The talk was that Rogers was not 22 positions worse than Smith, but his equal. It just depended on what system each signal-caller was in.
Smith never got settled with a single offensive approach, and last year was terrible. The 49ers insisted on using a kind of deep passing game that called for fast retreats by the offensive line and seven step drops. The result was a sacked and battered Smith. The 49ers have continued this approach with the hiring of former Rams Head Coach Mike Martz as offensive coordinator. The results have been the same; the 49ers QB was sacked three times in the first game against the Arizona Cardinals, last Sunday.
Fortunately that person was not Smith, but J.T. O’Sullivan, who the 49ers brought over from the Detroit Lions because he was familar with Martz and the system he was going to install. That seemed to spell curtains for Smith even before the injury.
The only question is will the Gold and Scarlet keep Smith next year. Time and performance this year will tell. My early bet is that 49ers Head Coach Mike Nolan will not be back past this year and Smith will have to deal with the whims of yet another groups of coaches.