A few notes before I delve into the fan post topic. I am aware that from time to time there will be “official” threads created for any number of topics, and there will likely be one for the 49er QB situation in the not so distant future, but I could not help myself. Additionally, this post will only touch tangentially on the coaching situation, as that should be entitled to its own conversation, yet the issue is heavily intertwined with who can and will be the QB. I will just say right now, that I believe no matter who the QB is going to be, he must be the selection of our new coach to be. Also, since any draft positioning type discussion would be premature at this point, I will also only include that as a corollary to the greater QB discussion.
After the jump, I will attempt to create a somewhat comprehensive look at what direction the 49ers can go in, as it relates to the QB position, both in the short term, and in the long term.
The 2010 49ers, between homer-fans and “experts” alike were believed to be the wise choice for NFC West Champ and deserving of a playoff spot. As I write this, both predictions remain up in that air and up for debate. Those prognostications, however, carried with them the underlying message that the collective talent on the 49ers was playoff worthy, and that they were potentially a QB away from being that team. Nothing in that should be earth-shattering to anyone, as we endured an entire off-season of whether or not Alex Smith should have been our starting QB this year (most of that conversation centered around Donovan McNabb). My jumping off point, or belief, is that the 49ers must insert an adept, NFL-ready, non-project type of QB for next year – as the current talent on the team is playoff caliber and we are in fact still a QB away. This window will be closed before we know it. I don’t know if people out there agree, but again, this is nothing earth shattering.
The following proposals/options are listed for differing reasons, some because they are merely options, whether good or bad. (Disclaimer 1 – for specific contract (K)-type info, I used the rotoworld player pages; Disclaimer 2 – Outside of Peyton Manning, a new QB coach will be essential to any decision).
Peyton Manning – I’ll be the first to admit this is probably the longest shot possible, but again it is possible. Manning is a free agent after this year, is on the older side of his career (35 in March), will likely command the steepest price of any player, QB or not, and to me seems like a guy who would rather stay in Indi. Nevertheless, Jed York and Co would do right by me if we somehow found a way to land him. As an older QB, I would then expect/want a project-type QB drafted this year, maybe 3rd round.
Donovan McNabb – Another aging QB (35 next November), except McNabb is obviously not in the same conversation as Manning. Despite him signing a new K in the offseason, there is plenty of speculation and a likelihood the Redskins will cut him and move in another direction. McNabb isn’t that great, and there have been plenty of (valid) comments made as to why the 49ers should not sign him, and that they were wise to not trade for him last offseason. I’m in no way endorsing this, but looking at the current options available, if McNabb can be signed at a reasonable price- maybe in the 2-3 year, incentive-laden type K, he may also be a suitable bridge to a project QB who can get the Niners into the 2011 playoffs. Additionally, as someone else has pointed out, Westbrook coming back would be assisted by this move.
Carson Palmer – Who knows if Palmer will ever regain the form he once had that garnered him a hefty K extension a few years ago. Today, however, the truth of the matter is, is that Palmer sucks, maybe worse than A. Smith, and he’s getting paid much more (I believe 11.5 mill next year and 13 and 14 each of the next two after that). There is however speculation that the Bengals will cut him after this season, and if so, he could be a high risk, high reward type of option. In any event, I would still want the Niners to draft a project QB, and only sign Palmer with the intent he be a temporary bridge. If the Bengals don’t cut him, this option is moot.
Kyle Orton – First off, I hate Kyle Orton. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, I just don’t think he’s very good, and people who point to his numbers often don’t recognize that he piles it up in garbage time a lot, and never really put his team in position to compete. Having said that, there may be a lot of changes in Denver this offseason. He is due 8.8 million next year and is a FA after that. He may be cut, but even if he isn’t he may be worth one of our 4th rounders. I have no clue what Denver would actually demand for him.
Kevin Kolb – With emergence of Vick and the likelihood the Eagles will franchise him, Kolb will likely be looking at a backup role again next year, unless the Eagles trade him. They had previously demanded 2 first round picks to part with him, though this could change. I personally don’t believe Kolb or Vick (maybe Vick) is worth two first round draft choices.
Seneca Wallace – 2011 FA. Hear me out. If the Niners could bring in Holmgren (ok), Seneca Wallace may be a cheap and ready method of creating a bridge to a project QB. Wallace has not really done much to show he is worthy of a starting QB spot, but as Holmgren went to Cleveland and took Wallace with him, he may very well do the same here.
Other players worth mentioning, though none really put us any better off than our current roster:
Trent Edwards – FA; Stanford; may be a fresh-start away
Dennis Dixon – RFA; Bay Area Product; Crazy Athleticism
Matt Moore – FA; He did beat the 49ers this year; coming off shoulder surgery
Nate Davis – Because Singletary doesn’t know much about the QB position.
Regarding next April’s Draft – I believe how high up the draft board the Niners finish will/should determine whether they use a first round pick on a QB. Andrew Luck, if he declares, will likely be gone. But if Newton, Locker, or Mallett are available- then I say we go for one. Otherwise, a 3rd/4th rounder may be the best choice. Admittedly, I know less about this aspect than many others, and would defer to people who may know more. In any event, I believe the QB drafted should only be a project behind a one-two year starter.