We've discussed the 49ers quarterback situation multiple times, and we'll continue to discuss it until it has been addressed. We'll consider the last nine years or so an "ongoing discussion" relating to the position, because it's been a position of need for at least that long. I took a look at the position in the Long Look Back, Brief Look Forward post this offseason, and then again in the post looking at the entirety of the roster.
The years in which Alex Smith was surrounded with coaches who could maximize his potential were wasted on a roster that lacked talent through and through. He was drafted onto and started for the worst football team in the National Football League, and it was clear. The years in which Alex Smith was surrounded with talent which could potentially maximize his potential were wasted on a coaching staff that lacked vision through and through. Mike Singletary and Jimmy Raye see the quarterback as some archaic piece of the puzzle, Alex Smith was but an action figure with a giant button on his back that handed the ball off when pressed like some bizarro world kung-fu grip.
Maybe Alex does deserve another chance, but he sure as [site decorum] doesn't deserve one as the sole option like he was coming into 2010.
It appears as though Alex will be getting another chance, with the way free agency is shaping up, or not shaping up or .. whatever is exactly going on. The biggest thing to take from all of it is that Jim Harbaugh at least appears to like what Alex can do, or at least considers him a viable option. The 49ers have the best chance to land Smith at this point, and they're probably the best option for him going forward, as well.
I've went over it time and time again, but if you need to hear it again, my personal belief is that Alex is not a bad quarterback, and that there is more positive than negative. My personal belief also is that a rookie needs to be drafted to compete and eventually takeover because at this point, Smith's positives, of which I believe there to be many, still only equate to him being a middling quarterback. The bolded text up above is a good summary of what I believe when it comes to him.
Either way, he will probably be in San Francisco. So now we get to confidence levels, so let's define them. A '10' does not signify Drew Brees levels of success, but '10' does express the somewhat unlikely event that Smith lives up to his potential. A '7' implies better than average, just an all-around good quarterback and probably the best option available this offseason for the 49ers, in a positive light. A '5' implies significant middle ground, in that Smith is probably the best option, but you aren't confident in him all that much. You can define '4' and below yourself.