After discussing the Alex Smith-Jim Harbaugh relationship ad nauseam, you'd think we would run out of ways to discuss the subject. Congratulations to Eric Branch for finding a new angle that I hadn't really considered. If anybody has mention this angle in previous comments my profuse apologies for overlooking it.
Branch basically makes the inference that Harbaugh actually views a lot of himself in Alex Smith. It's based on Harbaugh's comments about coaching and how Lindy Infante was able to turn Harbaugh into the quarterback he became. Branch's basic these argument is:
I'd offer that Harbaugh believes coaching will make a difference for Smith, who some don't believe is a good quarterback at all after six seasons in San Francisco. In fact, Smith's mediocre numbers are strikingly similar to Harbaugh's at similar stages in their careers.
I know there are some folks here that think there is nothing to be saved from Alex Smith. I'm not in that camp but I do recognize how there could be some level of validity to that point. After all, Smith has been around for quite some time now and the lightbulb hasn't really turned on in his career.
We have a spectrum of opinions about Harbaugh and what he can do with quarterbacks, and thus what he might be able to do with Alex Smith. Although Harbaugh developed under Infante, what's to say the same thing will happen with Smith under Harbaugh? Infante had a lot more NFL experience, operating in an offensive coordinator role for many years before he worked with Harbaugh.
Harbaugh has not been an NFL offensive coordinator, but I would argue his years as an NFL quarterback give him a certain level of experience most offensive coordinators lack. Throw in his work developing quarterbacks at the college level and while I'm not ready to bet the farm on Smith-Harbaugh, I'm at the very least intrigued about what could develop in 2011. I'm not holding my breath for some sort of rapid development, but I've created my own camp that thinks it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility.