Are the 49ers Setting Up Alex Smith for a Blind Side?

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bill-swift - March 27, 2012

Fans of the reality show Survivor will be all too familiar with the concept of a blind side. Pretty much what they entail (at least on the show) is setting up someone so that they believe that they do not have anything at all to be worried about—and then voting their sorry behinds off the island.

It looks like the San Francisco 49ers might be looking to do that to their quarterback, Alex Smith.

The team's love for the 27-year old veteran has been lukewarm at best. After six years, all they wanted to offer him was a three-year deal worth somewhere in the vicinity of $24 million. This came in the wake of him leading the red and gold to the promise land that is the post season for the first time in years, not to mention its first division title since 2002.

In all fairness, it was an improvement on the one-year, $5 million deal he was working off of. He's had injury issues. Prior to last season he only played in every regular season game once (his sophomore season in 2006). Thanks to a good showing this season he finally has more career TDs then INTs (68-58). In nine games his rookie year he threw only one TD and 11 INTs.

Last year was solid. He did lead the team to a 13-3 record, albeit with the help of a tremendous defense. While his stats were unremarkable they showed how efficient he was with the ball and how well he could manage the game. With another year under the same offensive system he is likely to improve even more.

So what does the team do? It tries to get Peyton Manning.

You can't blame them too much for that. Manning is a once-in-a-lifetime game changer; they would have been remise had they not attempted to woo him. That's not what is setting up Smith for the blind side though.

The blind side is newly signed quarterback Josh Johnson.

Johnson comes in without a very impressive professional resume. He's played in 26 games spread out over three seasons. His stat line is unimpressive (54.2 percent passes completed for 1042 yards, five TDs, and 10 INTs). However, what he does have is a pre-existing relationship with head coach Jim Harbaugh.

The team passed the move off as just trying to sign a young, capable back-up with experience in the type of offense that the team runs. Johnson played under Harbaugh when both were at the University of San Diego. While together, Johnson turned into one of the most accurate passers that college football has ever seen; he was a pretty good running threat to boot.

It is not unusual for coaches to want to work with players of their own choosing. Since Harbaugh knows full well what Johnson is capable of—since he taught him how to play—it would not be shocking to see him try to develop Johnson. Once he feels Johnson is ready, Harbaugh will give him the reigns and trade away Alex Smith.

Is the notion a little crazy? Maybe. Is it far-fetched? I don't think so. Will it happen? Only time will tell.

Article by Travis Pulver

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