Harbaugh and Smith back to being BFFs

March 21, 2012, 1:15 am
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Just like we always thought Jimmy and Al, BFFs forever.Alex Smith gave his situation careful thought, enjoyed his minute of making the 49ers uncomfortable, and signed the deal that binds him to the team as its starting quarterback until the next time Harbaughs wandering eye seizes upon a prize.Because thats the new nature of the relationship which is the same as the old nature of the relationship. Smith cashes in one more time, promised the chance to cement his relationship as The Guy You Like Just Enough To Wish He Was Someone Else.And Harbaugh can dream of what was and what could have been while he puts the happy face on what is.If you think about it, nobody ends up looking bad here. The 49ers did their due-est diligence and made a run at a guy they couldnt really pay for, and Smith didnt burn any bridges while waiting for events to reveal themselves.The one team that did get blown up here is Denver, and we mean that in a good way. They got Peyton Manning, they (in Shakespeares words) rid themselves of this turbulent priest in Tim Tebow, and suddenly look like not only the prohibitive favorite in the AFC West, but also a Super Bowl contender, if Las Vegas is to believed.But the 49ers, other than amusing us for the better part of a week with a few words and a bit of window shopping, are essentially unchanged. Smith is a bit more of a pure employee, and Harbaugh is less convincing as The Players Friend, but other than that, what was still is, and what will be remains open to interpretation.Thats the lesson of this week. As much fulminating as we did on the subject of the 49ers quarterback situation, we ended up where we pretty much suspected we would with Manning someone elses property, and Smith still Miss Congeniality.But heres the back end of the deal Colin Kaepernick.As Comrade Maiocco continues to say, Kaepernick is the 49ers idea of the quarterback of the future, which means that Smith just finishing looking ahead of him just in time to start looking behind him. He will begin as the starter because, well, because he should, but the question of leash length will become important if he does not hit the ground running at the same pace and gait he had last year.It means, essentially, that Alex Smiths dream of peace of mind in San Francisco is either over, or about to be. Whatever comfort he has derived from 2011 is not going to last all that much longer, even if he holds the job. He ends up after all this with Matt Flynns contract and Matt Hasselbecks security which is not the payoff he dreamed of when the season ended two months ago.But the payoff in the NFL is being day to day in a world that even Charles Darwin would find unsettling. Alex Smiths world is his head on a swivel, on the field, at practice, in the meetings, wherever 49er quarterbacks go to find out that they are going to be The Guy, Until The Guy Comes Around.

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