The entirety of the NFL’s offseason came and went in a blink.
There wasn’t enough to it to be anything more than a subplot to the league’s draft.
Players were there and then they were gone, locks securely back in place. However, in that single afternoon where fans were actually free to think about football again, everything about the 2011 season changed for 49ers fans.
Alex Smith got a playbook.
And you thought the Giants had cornered the market on torture.
Smith has a playbook, and coach Jim Harbaugh has made it clear that Smith will be part of the 49ers’ plans in 2011. Even the most loyal of 49ers fans has winced. Talk about the pebble in their shoe.
The whole Alex Smith and the 49ers thing has the feeling of Charlie Brown, Lucy and the football. Every time 49ers fans are sure they’re finally going to boot Smith out of town, the 49ers yank Smith back into their fold. Torture, torture and more torture.
I wouldn’t give Smith anything for his experience in professional football. He was drafted by a coach who allegedly didn’t want him and later accused him of not being tough enough. Then Smith was forced to play for a carnival act of a coach who, in the end, was clearly overmatched.
And, through it all, on a team that had little chance to succeed, Smith was thrown into the position most associated with winning and losing. He was the only one who could give the 49ers any chance of winning.
That chance usually led Smith to try too hard, do too much, driving 49ers fans to a frustration point where they wanted nothing more than to be rid of him.
And now Smith has a 49ers playbook again.
The Niner nation must pick itself off the floor, swallow hard, and hope and pray Harbaugh can find the same game in Smith that Norv Turner found.
I give Harbaugh all the credit. He has the guts to make a decision that has Niners fans smacking their heads in frustration. Harbaugh has seen the film. He’s seen what Smith can do, and has decided there is enough talent there to endure the boos that will ring out when Smith takes the field once again in a Niners uniform.
“The plan for Alex is unchanged,” Harbaugh said. “Everything that we’ve said from the very beginning; we want to get the best players on our roster that we possibly can, then throw out the balls and let them compete.
“Alex has the ability and the license to be the starting quarterback.”
Even though Niners fans have tried and tried to get that license revoked, Smith keeps coming back. Give him credit, too. He could have gone somewhere else, somewhere where he didn’t have to win anybody over. But he’s back. Playbook in hand. And I think it’s great.
Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.