By TED SILLANPAA
Alex Smith has a great game and 49ers’ fans wonder when he’ll fall back to earth. If he has a terrible game, they call for absolutely unproven Colin Kaepernick to take more snaps.
In an effort to determine where Alex Smith actually stands among NFL starting quarterbacks, let’s look at subjective groupings that include QBs I think are clearly better all-around than Smith, clearly inferior to the 49ers starter and some who are too young to really compare to the San Francisco veteran.
In trying to clear Giants’ cob webs, I could come up with only 2 NFL quarterbacks who don’t seem to belong in any of the three groups. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers doesn’t rank among the NFL’s elite, although he did just 2 seasons ago. There’s no way to argue, however, that the 49ers would suffer if they simply swapped Smith for Rivers. The same, I think, holds true in regard to Rams’ quarterback Sam Bradford. He hasn’t accomplished as much as Rivers did before his fall from grace, but he has played well enough to get out of the group that simply hasn’t played long enough to compare to Smith. I might be the only person in Northern California who believes the 49ers would be exactly with Bradford where they are with Smith.
In order to determine where Alex Smith ranks, first we have to look at the groupings (and sub-groupings). They are ranked based on performance.
1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Tom Brady
3. Eli Manning (All he does is bring the NY Giants back from deficits and win championships.)
4. Drew Brees
1. Ben Roethlisberger
2. Matt Schaub
3. Peyton Manning (he’s back among the Superior/Elite when he gets his arm strength back. Big drop from No. 3 to … )
4. Jay Cutler (So, he’s a schmoe … a Franken-jerk! I like his arm and, as I date myself, his moxie!)
5. Tomy Romo (It’s not Romo’s fault he plays for a dysfunctional franchise. The 49ers with Romo would dwarf the 49ers with Smith. Romo playing in the Harbaugh-Greg Roman system? Magic.)
6. Matthew Stafford (Having an inferior year, I know.)
7. Matt Ryan
8. Josh Freeman. (I think, the case for Smith’s superiority can be made.)
9. Joe Flacco.
JUST KIDS BETTER THAN SMITH RIGHT NOW
1. Andrew Luck (If I was starting a franchise, this would be my quarterback.)
2. Robert Griffin III (Can’t go too far wrong with RG III, obviously.)
3. Cam Newton (He’ll get his game together. Wait and see.)
1. Ryan Tannehill (Incredibly strong arm. A virtual neophyte at this most complicated position. Has Dolphins in AFC East title hunt.)
2. Andy Dalton
3. Russell Wilson (His athletic ability could be key to a big career. Or, it could be hiding deficiencies that will kill his career.)
4. Brandon Weeden
5. Christian Ponder
6. Blaine Gabbert
7. Tim Tebow (Look … very few QBs get their teams into the postseason. He did it a year ago.)
1. Carson Palmer
2. Ryan Fitzpatrick (If you’re going to be inconsistent at your job, get paid ridiculously well for said job.)
3. Michael Vick (Without much thought … I’d take Alex Smith over Vick … any day.)
4. Mark Sanchez (he’s young, but he’s played four seasons as a starter.)
5. Brady Quinn (It’s a personal hunch, but I think he’d do well playing for Harbaugh.)
6. Matt Hasselbeck
7. Matt Cassel
8. Jake Locker
9. Kevin Kolb
10. John Skelton
Now … in which group and where does Alex Smith rank?