Among 49ers fans, the Alex Smith debate will last until the end of time, or until Smith truly proves himself the capable QB some of us think he can be. Alongside that, the pro-Nate Davis crowd has pushed hard for Davis to get more opportunities in the preseason, and some have pushed for time in the regular season. The Nate Davis debate isn't at the level of the Alex Smith debate, but it's pretty impressive for a second year player.
However, recently I read some comments about Alex Smith by former NFL scout Dave Razzano. He spoke with Matt Maiocco and had a whole host of thoughts on Smith and Davis, which basically added up to the fact that Razzano doesn't like Smith as a football player. In fact, if I'm reading it correctly, Razzano has enough disdain for Smith as a player that it cost him his job as a scout for the cellar-dwelling St. Louis Rams:
He got fired after more than a decade as a Rams scout four years ago in large part because of his defense of a critical pre-draft evaluation of quarterback Alex Smith, Razzano told Comcast SportsNet.
"I had him rated as a non-starting player," Razzano said of Smith, whom the 49ers selected with the top overall pick in the 2005 draft.
Ninjames has already posted his comments regarding Razzano over at SB Nation Bay Area. Originally he was going to write about Razzano here as well. However, late last night Razzano was on Chronicle Live, and after reading MM's post, and then listening to Razzano, I grew angrier and angrier with him. It reached the point where I emailed James and said I needed to write this post.
I'm not using this post to support Alex Smith. Folks are more than welcome to debate the merits of Alex Smith, which certainly makes sense given the context of Razzano's comments. And I'm also not hear to support or bash Nate Davis. I like his potential, I think he's talented, I think he has a lot to learn and prove, and I'll leave it that.
My problem is with some of the inconsistencies and what I feel are mischaracterizations by Razzano. But more importantly, I feel Razzano has an axe to grind because he was fired, and Alex Smith is stuck in the cross-fire.
Here's some of what Razzano had to say about Smith in Maiocco's post:
"I thought he was way over-drafted and way overrated," Razzano said. "I don't think I've been proven wrong. The guy hasn't done it, and he'll get another opportunity. He's getting a little better with the touchdown throws to Vernon Davis. But, boy, the guy I saw at Utah, I was shocked people had him rated that high."
"I think he's exactly what I thought he'd be -- maybe a little worse," Razzano said. "I thought he'd be a decent backup. But I watch him now, he just doesn't have the winning mentality. But he's a good kid and a smart kid and he probably looks good in practice. He misses simple 7-yard outs. He's just not accurate and he doesn't have the moxie."
Nothing exactly shocking in there as folks have made some of these arguments before. He's entitled to his opinions. My problem with the initial opinions is his own personal bias. Yes as a scout he might have his specific beliefs. However, he claims he was fired by the Rams four years ago because of his strongly held opinion on Smith. In watching him on Chronicle Live, and reading the Maiocco post, there was definitely some ego there. I might be making some incorrect assumptions, but I feel I'm a good judge of people, and he comes across as kind of a d-bag. And, given his self-proclaimed reason for being fired, it's in his best interest for Alex Smith to fail as the 49ers starter. If Smith succeeds, he looks like an idiot. If Smith fails, he can proclaim to the ends of the earth how he was right and the Rams were wrong.
The second problem I have was in the inconsistencies and mischaracterizations. If you missed the Chronicle Live segment, he opened by saying he felt like Smith had all the intangibles. I'm a bit confused by that statement because in the MM post he said Smith didn't have the winning mentality. First off, "winning mentality" is a bogus argument. I've always had a problem with "Well he's a winner." Ken Dorsey was a winner at Miami and look what that got him in the NFL. Jason White and Josh Heupel were big time winners in college; look what that got them in the NFL.
Second, wouldn't this so-called winning mentality be an intangible? I suppose that might be nit-picking, but when I'm already down on Razzano, those things stick out.
The second issue was when he was on Chronicle Live and said that Smith has had ample opportunity and a lot of time to prove it. He went on to mention that he thought Alex Smith was a limited player talent-wise, but that he felt that was not an indictment of Alex Smith as much as extreme confidence in Nate Davis. Saying Player X is limited in his talent IS an indictment of that player. Don't throw a bunch of BS out there and tell me you're not bad-mouthing the player.
As far as the question of opportunity, this is one complaint about Smith that always bugs me. If you think Alex Smith is not talented enough to lead the 49ers to the playoffs, so be it. If you don't view a player as being good enough, that's one thing. But then to proclaim Smith has had all the opportunity and time to prove himself drives me crazy. Razzano has elected to ignore the fact that WHEN healthy, Smith has shown progress. From year one to year two, Smith showed serious improvement. He got hurt midway through year three and didn't return to the field until the middle of this past season, his fifth in the league.
Alex Smith has played in the equivalent of 2.7 seasons worth of games over the course of a 5-year career. He's played with four different offensive coordinators. Smith will not receive a free pass for life, for which i have never argued. This is his make-or-break season. He's going into year two of the same offense, with all of his offensive weapons returning, along with a potentially vastly improved offensive line. If he can't do it this year, people can jump on him all they want. However, to jump on him now is simply Razzano putting himself in a position to hope for failure so he can say he was right all along.
When you've got a guy with a proven bias spewing out inconsistent statements and mischaracterizations, it's hard for me to take him seriously, no matter what his professional experience includes. I pray Alex Smith makes Razzano eat his words.