Watching From Afar

October 31st, 2017 at 11:39 AM ^

Only issue with it is the "no QB has blossomed under Harbaugh's tutelage recently."

Rudock went from 3 INTs against Utah to obliterating a defense with at least a half dozen NFL starters on it... In 4 months.

What we've seen from Speight shows that the top of his mountain was last year around the Maryland game. He got there, somehow, then got hurt and is possibly damaged goods. That's development from the earhole against Colorado to top 3 Big Ten QB in 2016.


October 31st, 2017 at 2:18 PM ^

Jake Rudock was an okay B10 QB at Iowa who was not on any NFL radar.

He was an absolute flamethrower putting up insane Big 12-esque stats by the end of his tenure at Michigan. That stretch of 5 games or so at the end of the season are the only reason he was on any NFL radar. Likely not even an UDFA otherwise.

I think it's disingenuous to downplay the job the Michigan coaching staff did with Rudock.


October 31st, 2017 at 4:00 PM ^

I think it's disingenuous to prop it up as much as Michigan fans do. The truth is probably in between. Your middle paragraph is not very accurate. Rudock had one game where he put up "insane" stats at Michigan (vs. Indiana). 8 of Rudock's 17 regular season TDs and ~800 of his 2,700 regular season passing yards were amassed against Rutgers and Indiana in weeks 9 and 10. Those were the only two games all year Rudock passed for more than 300 yards. 

He added another objectively good game against Florida (278 yards, 3 TDs), which fair or unfair, came against a team and a defense which was largely checked out in an exibition game.

Just look at the trend line of Rudock's time at Iowa, and how it lines up with his season at Michigan. Steady improvement every year as his experience grows. His year at Michigan was a continuation of that. It wasn't dramatically different than his time at Iowa. He came to Michigan an above average B1G starting QB, and he left Michigan an above average B1G starting QB. 


October 31st, 2017 at 5:26 PM ^

I'm with you on the first paragraph but the second is not accurate. Florida was not checked out before the game started. They we're actually running their mouths about being disrespected because they had a defense full of Peppers and we're getting no credit. After the game, this idea that Florida was checked out. A lot of this was started by sec talking heads because the only reason a top sec team can get shedded by a big ten offense was because the sec defense had to have just given up.


October 31st, 2017 at 1:17 PM ^

Andy Reid saved Alex Smith’s career by letting him run tons of Urban Meyer and other spread offense concepts.

Not Jim Harbaugh, who used Alex Smith the exact same way everyone else used him, just with significantly more talent on defense to support him better. Then Harbaugh benched Smith for Kaep, let Smith walk in FA, and now Smith is an MVP candidate under Reid posting the best numbers of his career 4 straight seasons in a row.

Anthem protest or not, there’s not a single football exec who’s taking Kaepernick over Smith right now, and that is because of Andy Reid, not Jim Harbaugh.


October 31st, 2017 at 2:20 PM ^

This is a bit of a hot take...

As a Niners fanatic, I cannot understate how much PTSD Alex Smith had during the Singletary and first Tomsula regime. The guy was getting destroyed every game, and his performance on the field reflected that. He was a shell.

You can see an immediate and upward trend in his on-field performance the year Harbaugh is hired. Alex progressed his two years under Harbaugh and - until this year - his QBR under Harbaugh was better than his prior years in KC.

Alex spent 2 years with Harbaugh, and Harbaugh pretty much saved his career. Alex has spent 5 years with Andy Reid, and Reid has made him pretty elite. Kudos to both coaches...(because by all accounts, Alex is a truly upstanding and great guy).


October 31st, 2017 at 3:31 PM ^

I disagree it was a substantial (or prolonged) or immediate uptick. It wasn't even really prolonged, since 2012 pre-injury Smith was underwhelming enough to get benched when got healthy again. Harbaugh was hired in 2011. Alex Smith was coming off back-to-back decent years in 2009 and 2010. 2009 Alex Smith put up 18 TDs in 11 games, more than 2011 Alex Smith put up in 16 games. The difference in ypa from 2010 to 2011 was 0.2. The completion percentages all three years are within 1%. The only thing that seperates 2011 Alex Smith from the 2009 and 2010 pre-Harbaugh versions was his reduction in interceptions, from 10 to 5. I think it's unfair to suggest Harbaugh "saved Smith's career" when Harbaugh assuredly made the wrong decision in picking Kaepernick over Smith.

I don't think Smith was horrible in 2009 or 2010. The 2011 Harbaugh version of Smith was a lot closer to the 2009 and 2010 player than he was to the 2013, 2015 and 2017 Reid versions.

Pepto Bismol

October 31st, 2017 at 2:34 PM ^

Rudock/Beathard above is fair.  This is dumb.

Pre-Harbaugh, Smith was 19-31 as a starter, was sub-60% passing, had a career TD-Int ratio of 51-53, never cracked 3,000 yards in a season and was splitting time with Troy Smith.

A year and a half under Harbaugh later, KC gave up a 2nd round pick (not free agency) to get him after he posted nearly 5,000 yards with a career best yards/attempt and passer rating, TD-int ratio of 30-10, and went 19-5-1 as Harbaugh's starter. 

That's quite an arbitrary leap for using him "the exact same way everyone else used him", wouldn't you say?



October 31st, 2017 at 3:43 PM ^

I think your pre-Harbaugh statistics are a tad unfair when making your comment. The first three years of Smith's career were a disaster. He had three OCs and 2 HCs in three years. He was objectively horrible as a rookie (1 TD/11 interceptions) on a horrible team (No. 1 pick and all that). He was hurt for half of his third year. He never really got a chance to develop until year 4 (2009), which as addressed above, wasn't a bad season. Neither was 2010. Harbaugh showed up in 2011. Furthermore, it stands to reason a QB in years 5 and 6 is going to post better numbers than in years 1 and 2.  

I was wrong about the FA v. trade dynamic, but the point behind it is the same. Harbaugh chose Kaepernick over Smith. Whether they let Smith walk in FA or traded him is irrelevant to the idea Harbaugh chose which QB he wanted to build the 49ers around, which as it turns out, he made the wrong choice. 


October 31st, 2017 at 7:35 PM ^

No. First of all, Alex Smith's 2009, 2010 and 2011 are all roughly equal, statistically. There isn't much of a "jump," there's a reduction in both interceptions and TD percentage. The completion percentage is within 1% the whole time. Yards increase in 2011 under Harbaugh, but so do games played. These three years are very different than his rookie year, and his oft-injured 3rd year. 

The sample of comparing years 1-3 to 4-6 is very different for reasons both Harbaugh and non-Harbaugh related. If you don't see that, idk what to tell you.


October 31st, 2017 at 7:38 PM ^

So Harbaugh didn't bench Smith for Kaep, he just kept Kaep as the starter after Smith was healthy and then traded Smith away. Totally different.

I give Harbaugh fair credit for Andrew Luck, and I'll give him credit the next time I'm afraid of a Michigan QB. So far, he's 0-3 on having one that strikes fear in an opponent. We'll see.


October 31st, 2017 at 2:58 PM ^

Actually, the more I think about this comment, the more dumb I think it is.

I normally respect you as a poster - particuarly during OSU week - but this hot take is just bad and entirely innacurate.

When Smith was traded to KC, the reality at that time was the Niners could not afford to sign both Smith and Kaep. The economics wouldn't work due to the salary cap (a very similar storyline to what Smith will experience this offseason in KC).

It's completely anachronistic to say, "Anthem protest or not, there's not a single football exec who's taking Kaep over Smith right now," because that was NOT the reality back in 2012-2013.

After Kaep exploded on the scene in Monday Night Football against the Bears (I was at the was awesome), everybody knew Smith had lost his job. Kaep was young; Smith was perceived to be broken...and - honestly - Smith partially played like a broken QB in his first few years in KC. In contrast, Kaep led the Niners to a Super Bowl and two-straight NFC Championship Games.

While no team would take Kaep over Smith now, no team was going to take Smith over Kaep back then. It's not like the Chiefs were salivating over the guy. Look at the contract he signed in 2013...That was the best he could get in the NFL and - to his credit - played his way back to multi-million dollar contracts.



October 31st, 2017 at 11:52 AM ^

I was going to make the same statement - both Rudock and Speight developed by leaps and bounds in 1 yr under Harbaugh.  I don't think anything got messed up with Speight, as I thought he looked decent against both OSU and FSU.  I think his problem early this year was the OL, freshmen WRs, and a brand new passing offense.  I have to think he would have improved through the year along with the OL and recievers.

I don't think JOK mentally has what it takes to play P5 football.  But I like the kid - he gave it what he had and didn't shy away, and there's something to be said for that.


October 31st, 2017 at 1:39 PM ^

every bit of talent he could get out of Speight. He's just not that good and there is not anything more to wring out of him. He actually regressed a little this year and I wouldn't expect to see anything significant out of him going forward. We need the likes of Peters and McCaffery now going forward and for Harbaugh to work his QB magic on these kids.


October 31st, 2017 at 12:27 PM ^

It's definitely fair to say QBs have improved under Harbaugh, both at the college and professional levels. Hell, as a Niners fan, it was great to see Harbaugh rescue Alex Smith's career and coach up Kaep.

Sadly, as we all know though, until UM's QBs show up and lead our team to victory against OSU and MSU, this will continue to be a knock against Harbaugh.

Whether fair or unfair, QBs take the brunt end of post-loss frustrations...and some of our QB performances against our principal rivals have been rough, to say the least. I hope Peters proves to be the example that steers the ship in the right direction. My liver is depending on it.


October 31st, 2017 at 11:41 AM ^

I definitely feel like Peters starting now has more affect on this post/bowl season and 2018 than the rest of the regular season, but we'll see. His talent and ability certainly makes me feel better about our chances in Madison and in the game. I hope we see steady, Rudock-level improvement from him. I reluctantly love reading Michigan Monday... good stuff.


October 31st, 2017 at 12:06 PM ^

This is an 8-4 team, maybe (big maybe) 9-3 if we can sneak one out against Wisconsin or OSU, so yeah this is all about getting a jump on Peters' development for the offseason and 2018.

5 starts (including bowl) should absolutely go a long way for him, and the team, heading into the offseason. Also it'll be big if Black can get healthy by post-bowl time, the more time he and Peters can spend together in the spring/summer the better.


October 31st, 2017 at 12:07 PM ^

It helps in the sense that if he is decent enough this year, he will be the presumed starter going into next year, not Speight.

Tie goes to the runner.

Harbaugh may have locked on Speight too long into 2018.  Nothing against Speight, but his upside is limited and we may have already seen it.

Time to get on with the future.

The Mad Hatter

October 31st, 2017 at 12:29 PM ^

Harbaugh doesn't really like Peters.  I get this feeling that they just don't see eye to eye on something.  It's hard to explain.

I think the QB competition is open next season.  Where Speight fits into it depends entirely how fast and well he heals.  Guy looked great before he was hurt last year.