When Alex Smith was ruled out by the 49ers due to his injured shoulder, it was a mild surprise who coach Mike Singletary tabbed as his replacement. Instead of going to the player next up on the depth chart, No. 2 David Carr, Singletary named Troy Smith the starter against the Broncos.
Smith, who has a connection to offensive coordinator Mike Johnson from their days in Baltimore, signed just before the season. The team must believe he’s acclimated enough to run the offense, even though Singletary acknowledged Smith hadn’t even taken first-team reps with the 49ers before this week.
Maybe it’s a gamble by Singletary. But how much of a gamble is it really? I put in a call to NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger for a quick scouting report:
“I think it’s the right move. The whole league has seen enough of Carr. There was really a bitter taste in the Ravens locker room when Smith left, because he was a well-liked guy. Kurt Warner was a shining example, but we really don’t know what any of these quarterbacks can do until they go out and play.
“This is a perfect spot in San Francisco for Smith. The 49ers are 1-5, have nothing to lose and are a dark horse right now to reach .500 and maybe qualify for a playoff spot. They had a horrendous defeat in Carolina. At this point, why not give him a chance?
“Smith brings a little bit of a swagger and a strong arm to the 49ers. He’s very mobile and I think he can make some plays. I’m not sure even he knows how well he can read defenses. Getting the timing down with the receivers will be a little bit of a struggle, but Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree will bend over backwards to try to make him successful.”
There doesn’t seem to be much of a downside here for Singletary or the 49ers. Smith is known as a strong leader. They proved by the move they don’t have confidence in Carr as a long-term solution, so why not give Smith a shot and see if he can spark the offense?
– Frank Tadych
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