The Chiefs continue to negotiate with receiver Dwayne Bowe and tackle Branden Albert, sources said. If they can extend one of those players, Kansas City is open to placing the tag on the other. Bowe already played 2012 on the tag. This situation is as fluid as any in the league regarding the tag, and the Chiefs are still working through it. The Chargers do not have a candidate, and the Raiders remain cap strapped.
When Harbaugh took over the helm in 2011, the NFL was in the midst of a lockout. With virtually no offseason and a shortened training camp, Harbaugh decided that bringing back Alex Smith was his best option for the upcoming season. Smith returned Harbaugh’s trust by posting his best numbers to date and leading the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game. Smith’s stats were even better in 2012, completing over 70 percent of his passes and averaging 8 yards per attempt before Kaepernick took the job by storm in the middle of the season.
If you run a team, you recognize that getting a franchise guy takes a little luck. But what you can’t do is look up one day and realize your starting quarterback is Blaine Gabbert. Then you’re hopeless, your fans hate you, free agents want nothing to do with you and you spend five years looking forward to April. Bears fans may gripe about Jay Cutler, and Lions fans may worry about Matthew Stafford’s mechanics, but come September, they know that their quarterbacks give them a chance. Maybe not the best chance, but a chance.
Alex Smith gives the Chiefs a chance. And look around: Nobody else really does. There may be a franchise guy somewhere in this draft, but there are no likely franchise guys. If there is a franchise guy, it is somebody who, like Brady and Wilson, was overlooked. Matt Barkley and Geno Smith, the two top prospects, are mysteries. They might win Super Bowls, but they are less likely to do that than Alex Smith.
Now the Chiefs can use the first pick of the draft to pick a lineman to block for and eat with Andy Reid. They can build the rest of the roster knowing that they have a quarterback who gives them a chance. If they somehow find a franchise guy along the way, like the 49ers did with Kaepernick, then great. If not, at least they have a shot.
Shula retired from coaching in 1995, but still has fond memories of Kansas City. He coached the Dolphins in the Christmas Day playoff game against the Chiefs in 1971, an epic battle won by Miami in double overtime. The game was the final one for the Chiefs at Municipal Stadium.
The Dolphins also beat the Chiefs the next season in the first game at Arrowhead Stadium. Shula said he delighted in matching football wits with former Chiefs coach Hank Stram.
“I go back a long way with Kansas City,” Shula said. “We closed the old stadium, opened the new stadium and had a lot of battles with the guy that had the red vest and the bow tie on the other sideline with his hair all slicked down. The hottest game I ever coached was the opening game of the (1972) season in Kansas City. I had a white shirt on with my game plan with ink notes on the back of it in my shirt pocket. I looked down and everything melted. It was all running down my shirt.
And lastly, this is an old article from Grantland about how Jim Harbaugh simplified his offense for Alex Smith. It is really fascinating so I wanted to share.
So the 49ers ditched sight adjustments. But they still need an answer for the blitz, right? Harbaugh has one. If you want your team to throw the ball downfield, you must keep extra players (two running backs, a running back and a tight end, etc.) in pass protection to buy time for your receivers to get open. Coaches resist this because defenses can force unfavorable situations, like when your running back must block a blitzing defender while three linemen block no one on the other side of the field. But these are necessary trade-offs; the advantage to the offense should be that the three or so receivers who do release in the route should have time to beat the coverage. And, if the defense rushes only four, then the running backs or tight ends can leak into passing routes — a technique known as the “check-release”. Remember, this doesn’t mean the defense cannot still blitz more than the offense can block — they always can — but by keeping extra blockers, teams protect their quarterbacks from the inside to the outside. They force the extra rushers to come from the outside and give receivers time to get open.