San Francisco and Jim Harbaugh Want Alex Smith, No Indication of Interest in Peyton Manning

Alex Smith is a free agent, so the San Francisco 49ers would be a team that might be interested in Peyton Manning. However, according to Matt Maiocco, all indications coming from the organization are that they have no interest in Manning and are working toward getting Smith re-signed.

Harbaugh has said that Smith is “our guy” and GM Trent Baalke says that he feels very comfortable with the QB situation, and that they have not had any in-depth conversations about Manning coming to San Francisco.

Alex Smith is fascinating to me. People have written him off. He is still only 27. On the other hand, his performance last year was primarily driven in the regular season by managing the game and not making mistakes, as he threw only 5 interceptions in 445 attempts. San Francisco will likely find that regression, particularly when it comes to turnovers, is a cruel mistress. If his turnover rate regresses to the league average, then you are left with a guy who wasn’t particularly good in the red zone (well, until that Saints playoff game) and who was about league average at completion percentage and yards per attempt, and took a lot of sacks.

It’s not surprising, though, that Jim Harbaugh would find Alex Smith to be his guy. I whipped up a similarity score for all quarterbacks since the merger, using the advanced league adjusted scores in yards per attempt, touchdown rate, completion percentage, interception rate, and sack rate. Alex Smith’s most similar quarterbacks are going to be guys who were also very good at avoiding interceptions, bad at sacks, and about average everywhere else.

The most similar quarterback to Alex Smith last year, at the same age? Jim Harbaugh in 1990. He probably sees himself a little bit in Alex Smith, so why would he opt for a Peyton Manning type?

Here is the list of most similar seasons to Alex Smith at age 27:

  1. Jim Harbaugh, 1990 (907)
  2. Ken O’Brien, 1987 (814)
  3. Donovan McNabb, 2003 (653)
  4. Jeff Blake, 1997 (633)
  5. Neil O’Donnell, 1993 (630)
  6. Phil Simms, 1981 (630)
  7. Jason Campbell, 2008 (541)

About half of the potential starting seasons between ages 28 and 32 for that group resulted in seasons with an above average rating as a starter, with McNabb counting for 5 of them.

I talked about the randomness of interceptions and how the league leader one year seldom followed it up with a bad year before the season with Eli Manning. You might remember him? He was that mistake-prone guy. Wonder what happened with him this year.

[photo via US Presswire]

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