Why not Troy Smith?

HERTFORD, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 27: Troy Smith (L) and David Carr of San Francisco 49ers in a training session at The Grove Hotel on October 27, 2010 in Hertford, England. The San Francisco 49ers will meet the Denver Broncos in the NFL International Series regular-season match at Wembley Stadium on October 31. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Mike Singletary has come to the same conclusion that coaches in Houston, Carolina and New York came to before him: that he’s seen enough of David Carr to know that he can’t be counted on as a starter.

Alex Smith is expected to miss 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury and while some 49er fans want to see Carr take the snaps this Sunday in London, Singletary has already named Troy Smith the starter.

Hey, why not?

Look, Carr is nothing more than a backup and will be nothing more than a backup. The same could be said about Smith, but the former Heisman Trophy winner has one thing Carr doesn’t: upside.

Smith’s height is a major issue, but his athletic ability makes him intriguing and he has a strong enough arm to make all the throws at this level. Seeing as how he’s been running the scout team offense in practice, it would be wise if offensive coordinator Mike Johnson built his game plan around Frank Gore this week and limited Smith’s throws to screens, roll outs and three-step drops. That said, once Smith gets more comfortable with the offense, there’s no reason to think Johnson can’t expand the playbook.

There’s an argument to be made that Singletary didn’t give Carr a fair look, but what more does he need to see? What more does anyone need to see out of Carr to know that he can’t run an offense? When the Texans finally released him, everyone thought that with a good offensive line he would turn his career around. But he had a decent O-line in Carolina and he struggled. The Giants, who have had been searching for a backup for Eli Manning before trading for Sage Rosenfels, also didn’t see the need to keep Carr around.

He is what he is, which is why Smith is worth the risk for the 49ers. Will it ultimately be the right decision by Singletary? Who knows – time will only tell. But at least Smith’s ceiling hasn’t been met, unlike Carr’s.

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Mike Singletary isn’t long for his job with the 49ers

San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary reacts on the sidelines against the Philadelphia Eagles during their NFL football game in San Francisco, California October 10, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Even after the 49ers’ 23-20 loss to the previously winless Panthers on Sunday, Mike Singletary said he still felt that that his team could reach the playoffs this year.

But he’s clearly delusional.

At 1-6, the 49ers don’t have a realistic shot at making the playoffs – I don’t care what division they play in. It’s the same story every week: They’re undisciplined, mistake-prone and the coaching staff is unable or unwilling to make adjustments. It’s almost like Singletary and his crew put together a game plan throughout the week and if it works, great, if it doesn’t, so be it. But come hell or high water, they’re not going to make any in-game adjustments (at least ones that work, anyway). It’s ridiculous.

I don’t see how Singletary hangs onto his job. The Niners would have to win out and make the playoffs and that’s not going to happen. Alex Smith suffered an injury on Sunday and was replaced by David Carr, who went 5-for-13 for 67 yards and an interception. Smith isn’t good, but Carr isn’t the answer either. This team is hapless.

After their victory last Sunday over the Raiders, the Niners had a shot to turn their season around if they could beat the brutal Panthers. But once again, Singletary’s squad showed its true colors again. With a trip to London coming up, the front office won’t make a move this week. But either way, Singletary’s time in San Francisco is running out.

Is it time for the 49ers to bench Alex Smith?

San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Troy Smith (L), David Carr (C) and Alex Smith carry pink towels to promote the breast cancer awareness campaign during pre-game warmups before their NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Atlanta, Georgia, October 3, 2010.   REUTERS/David Tulis  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL HEALTH)

49er fans once again have had about all they can take when it comes to the play of Alex Smith.

Following yet another rough performance by his starting quarterback in a 16-14 loss to the Falcons on Sunday, 49ers head coach Mike Singletary said that he never thought about pulling Smith during the game. Why would he? Smith killed two potential scoring drives with interceptions, but coaches don’t make it a habit to pull their starting quarterbacks when their team has the lead. And up until the final seven seconds, the Niners had the lead the entire time.

But while the thought didn’t cross his mind on Sunday, I wonder if Singletary is considering making a quarterback change now. Smith hasn’t been dreadful, but the bottom line is that he isn’t making enough plays in the vertical passing game – or enough plays period. The situation in Atlanta was set up perfectly for him: he had a 14-0 lead, a solid game plan under new offensive coordinator Mike Johnson and a defense that was holding the Falcons to field goals instead of touchdowns. All Smith had to do was keep the chains moving, protect the football and allow the Falcons to kill themselves with dumb mistakes.

But once again, he failed to do that and now San Fran is 0-4 after many pundits (this one included) projected them to win the NFC West. Given how bad the division is, that goal can still be attained but not if Smith continues to play as poorly as he has.

The problem is that Singletary has options at quarterback, but they’re not very good. We’ve all witnessed David Carr’s handy work and Nate Davis is still incredibly raw. The wild card is Troy Smith, whom the Niners signed a month ago after the Ravens dumped him. But he’s coming off a brutal preseason and doesn’t have the accuracy or decision-making to be a starter at this juncture. Despite Smith’s play, he still gives the 49ers the best chance of winning at the moment (however long that is) and Singletary may have no choice but to stick with him.

Then again, why continue to do something if it isn’t working? If Smith can’t produce under Johnson, then Carr, Troy Smith or Davis should get an opportunity. The Niners can’t continue to be derailed by inconsistency at the quarterback position or else this season is about to get longer than it already has been.

It’s now or never, Alex Smith.

Decade Debate: 5 Biggest Quarterback Busts

When fans think of biggest quarterback busts, the first one that usually pops into their heads is Ryan Leaf. But when it’s all said and done, the biggest quarterback draft bust of all-time might have come from this decade. As part of our ongoing Decade Debate series, here is a top 5 ranking of the biggest quarterback draft busts of the past decade, as well as a separate list of two signal callers that might be well on their way to bustville.

5. Byron Leftwich (Year Drafted: 2003)

Things didn’t start off poorly for Leftwich. After the Jaguars took him with the seventh overall pick in 2003, Leftwich led them to a 9-7 record in his second year and helped Jacksonville earn a 12-4 record and a playoff berth in his third year before an ankle injury cost him the remaining five games of the season. But after returning from the injury in time to receive a 28-3 beat down from the Patriots in the postseason that year, things went downhill for Leftwich. He suffered another ankle injury in 2006 (one that cost him all but four games of the season) and then he was released in 2007 in favor of David Garrard. He was signed by the Falcons in September of that year, but was a minor disaster and couldn’t hold off Joey Harrington for the starting job. He did win a Super Bowl ring as Ben Roethlisberger’s backup with the Steelers in 2008, but he once again failed as a starter in 2009 after the Bucs signed him in the offseason. Even though he did have some success in the league, Leftwich never lived up to his top-10 billing. His big arm was a hit in college, but his slow release has often doomed him in the NFL and now it appears he’s destined for a life as a backup.

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Is Eli’s foot getting better?

The New York Daily News reports that Eli Manning showed no limp while jogging and walking through drills at practice on Friday.

Manning, who hasn’t practiced all week, did have his injured right heel tightly wrapped under his sock and shoe, but he did not appear to be favoring it as he jogged and high-stepped through the pre-practice warmup. He also showed no ill-effects from the injury as he took part in the first-team offense’s walkthrough against the scout team. He was able to take snaps, drop back, hop in the pocket and throw with no obvious signs of pain or discomfort.

Of course, the media was positioned about 60 or so yards away from Manning, and we are only permitted to watch the first 20 or so minutes of practice. The Giants did little in that time that would truly indicate whether Manning will be able to play on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.

Perhaps the only hint came when he took some snaps with the first-team offense, indicating there’s at least a chance. However, it should be noted that when the walkthrough drills began, David Carr took the first snaps with the starters.

The doctors have already told Manning that he won’t hurt foot anymore by playing on it, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be affected by the injury on game day.

Carr can turn around and hand the ball to Brandon Jacobs if need be to get the Giants a win over the Raiders this Sunday. But if the Giants need him to throw the ball to win, they could be in trouble.

It’ll be interesting to see what Tom Coughlin and the Giants decide to do with Manning over the weekend. He’ll likely be a game time decision.

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