Niners fans, I hope you’re sitting down. Because what you are about to read could rock your world.
Thirty years after Joe Montana launched his legendary NFL career in San Francisco, fellow Pro Football Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott is comparing current 49ers quarterback Alex Smith to Super Joe.
That’s right. That Alex Smith. The guy who went from savior to scrap heap and missed most of the past two seasons following surgeries on his throwing shoulder and was all but forgotten by the 49ers until a few weeks ago. Now, after two impressive performances against the Texans and Colts, Smith has won over his coach, teammates and one of the game’s most respected defensive players.
Lott, who will be inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame at the HP Pavilion on Wednesday says, “I like the fact Smith is able to stand tall. When you see him out there now he doesn’t play small, he plays big.”
Lott is also impressed with Michael Crabtree. “Looking at the offense, is it where the 49ers were when Joe took over? Probably not. But if you look back to 1979, to those early years when Montana got the starting job, it took a couple of years before he became who he is. Right now if you saw Alex and Crabtree you would say that’s Joe Montana and Freddie Solomon in their early days.”
By the way, Alex, 25, is the same age Montana was when he won his first Super Bowl. All right, the Super Bowl may be a pipe dream this season, but Smith is the early favorite for NFL Comeback Player of the Year and Crabtree a dark horse for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and Vikings wide receiver and kick returner Percy Harvin are clearly ahead of Crabtree, who like Smith has only played two games, but there’s still more than half a season to go.
Captain comeback to the rescue?
Just a hunch. If the domestic violence allegations against Tom Cable prove to be true, couldn’t that re-open the door for Jim Harbaugh to be called upon to rescue the Raiders? Captain Comeback still hasn’t signed the contract extension that Stanford has been dangling for almost a year now.
Ironically, Harbaugh’s innovative and hard-charging leadership that can only go so far with an athletically challenged Cardinal team makes a perfect fit for an athletically gifted Raiders team that has taken under-achieving to an art form.
Hiring Harbaugh, who spent two seasons as quarterbacks coach with the Silver and Black in 2002-03, could also provide a much-needed wake-up call for JaMarcus Russell — literally. One former Raider told me he thinks Russell has a sleeping disorder after seeing him nod off at team meetings.
When did November become the overstuffed smorgasbord month of sports? The World Series, NHL, NBA, NFL, college football and basketball (tonight, No. 12 Cal tips off a new season hosting Chico in an exhibition game at Haas Pavilion), MLS playoffs, NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Championship, World Golf Championship underway today in Shanghai, ATP World Tour Tennis Finals at London and don’t forget thoroughbred racing at Golden Gate Fields. Ouch, I just pulled a muscle checking my calendar.
KGO (810 AM) Sports Director Rich Walcoff can be heard weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on the KGO morning news and is also the co-host of “Raiders Gameday” and “Recap” talk shows on KSFO (560 AM). He can be reached at RichWalcoff@gmail.com.