Fans of the 49ers are starting to wonder if the team chose the wrong quarterback in the 2005 draft when San Francisco selected Alex Smith over Aaron Rodgers. Smith has had issues with injuries, the head coach and poor play.
The San Francisco 49ers
really only considered two quarterbacks with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2005 draft: Alex Smith
and Aaron Rodgers
It was not a difficult decision at the time. The 49ers selected Smith with the top pick and Rodgers slid to No. 24, where the Green Bay Packers
chose him. The debate has re-opened in the Bay Area.
Smith has been beaten up in his three seasons with the 49ers, while Rodgers has sat behind future Hall of Famer Brett Favre
. In Rodgers' only extended playing time, he completed 18 of 26 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown last week against the Dallas Cowboys
In one game, Rodgers put up statistics that ranked favorably with anything Smith has done in his 30 career starts. But 49ers coach Mike Nolan, who has feuded recently with Smith, said it is really more a matter of circumstances.
"Obviously, he's on a different football team," Nolan said. "That has a lot to do with it. They're also a football team that's got tremendous momentum. I think it's unfair to compare the two ... He's on a team that's hot, and he goes into a situation where even the people around him have a lot of confidence in what's going on. So I think it would be unfair to compare them at this time."
Although the 49ers have tried to surround Smith with plenty of support, things have turned out badly. Smith had three different offensive coordinators in his first three seasons. It's possible he'll have a fourth next season, as first-year coordinator Jim Hostler has come under intense scrutiny.
Also, Smith is not surrounded by many playmakers in the passing game, and the club's pass protection has been consistently bad.
Smith is expected to miss his fourth consecutive start Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings
with shoulder and forearm issues. Smith has not been healthy since sustaining a separated right shoulder Sept. 30 against the Seattle Seahawks
. He appears to be a long shot to return to action this season.
"I know he will do some light throwing on Wednesday and they will re-evaluate it at that time," Nolan said. "There are doctor's appointments scheduled this week, but even last week with no appointments, they are always poking and prodding and making sure he is on track."
QB Alex Smith has been cleared for light throwing during practice Wednesday but is expected to miss his fourth consecutive start with shoulder and forearm issues. Smith might ultimately require season-ending surgery on his shoulder, which was separated Sept. 30 when defensive tackle Rocky Bernard sacked him.
QB Trent Dilfer put together two decent games but came back with a poor showing against the Panthers. For the season, Dilfer has a lowly 58.4 passer rating with seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions. In the 12 previous seasons in which he has played, Dilfer has thrown more touchdowns than interceptions only four times.
RB Frank Gore, coming off his best game of the season with 214 total yards and two touchdowns against the Arizona Cardinals, did not get many touches against the Panthers. He carried just 12 times for 58 yards and caught five passes for 53 yards. For the season, Gore has 713 yards rushing on 171 carries for a respectable 4.2 average.
RB Michael Robinson is the backup running back, but he has just 25 carries this season for 120 yards. Robinson is mostly a contributor on special teams.
TE Vernon Davis caught one pass for 19 yards against the Panthers, as he was not featured in the passing game. Davis appeared to have some problems with his route-running in the game, as he and QB Trent Dilfer did not appear to always be on the same page. For the season, Davis has 37 receptions for 371 yards and two touchdowns.
WR Darrell Jackson, expected to be the No. 1 receiver this season, has been an afterthought. Jackson has six dropped passes this season and just 29 receptions for 332 yards with one touchdown.
WR Arnaz Battle and RB Frank Gore were the only 49ers to catch more than one pass on Sunday. Battle had four receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown. For the year, he has 43 catches for 545 yards and four touchdowns. Battle sustained a right ankle sprain against the Panthers and is listed as questionable for this week's game against the Vikings.
TE Delanie Walker is getting extensive playing time as the 49ers' No. 2 tight end. He plays alongside starter Vernon Davis is many situations. He has just nine catches for 58 yards and a touchdown this season.
LB Patrick Willis was credited with 18 tackles for the second consecutive game and has stretched his NFL lead with 128 tackles on the season. The Texans' DeMeco Ryans and the Broncos' D.J. Williams are tied for second in the league with 109 tackles on the year.