That said – if Alex Smith is 100 percent back, cleared by all medical personnel and seen fit to face opposing defenders, he will be the starting quarterback.
All things being equal, there is no way a 23-year-old Dwayne Haskins, with seven NFL starts, beats out Alex Smith legitimately for the starting job, especially with a new coach in Ron Rivera and a pressure-packed preparation training camp in light of COVID-19.
Smith is 36 with 161 NFL starts. He has the football instincts that Haskins is a long way from developing, instincts and experience that will be valuable with a new coach and a short training camp.
I am not saying that Smith should be the starter. I know that likely the best scenario is for Haskins to start and either develop or fail as an NFL starter. The team needs to find out what they have with Haskins, and if he is the future, he needs to play.
But that becomes complicated if Smith shows he is 100 percent back and is clearly a better option for game one than Haskins, Rivera will have to make the move to Smith. One thing a coach can’t do is hide those results from his players. If the locker room believes in Smith, Rivera risks losing that room right from the start if he doesn’t select their best option for winning.
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