Since the rumors of an Alex Smith trade being complete started to circle last night, a process of elimination has knocked off two of the 49ers’ potential trading partners after Jason La Canfora reported that a deal is “effectively complete” — a meaningless phrase in late February, but whatever — even though he didn’t know where the quarterback is headed. Two possibilities were the Jaguars and Browns, but Jags general manager David Caldwell said “not us“, while a source tells Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the Browns aren’t the mystery team either.

Of course there’s always a chance none of this is true (again, consult your calendar). Oh hey look, a 49ers beat guy is reporting there’s no trade in place. Neat.

But for now let’s entertain the likelihood that a trade will happen, and that when it does Smith will be the Chiefs’ new quarterback since they make the most sense, and it’s the only potential QB-needy destination where Smith won’t suck.

Both the Jaguars and Browns are seeking to establish an uptempo, vertical passing game due to the deep threats they’ve assembled (Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon in Jacksonville, and Josh Gordon in Cleveland). That’s not Smith’s game, and it never has been. As I’ve written so many times during the early silliness of the silly season, we tend to fall into the trap of seeing only what a player has done lately. And when we do that with Smith we see a quarterback who had a 104.1 passer rating in 2012 over his nine starts, a year after posting a 90.7 rating.

Those are fine numbers, and they accurately reflect Smith’s proverbial game manager label that he hates so passionately. Under Jim Harbaugh he’s thrown only 10 interceptions over two seasons after averaging 10.6 per year throughout his previous five seasons. He’s most effective when he’s in an offense that provides strong backfield support, and most importantly, one that caters to his accurate short passing ability without asking him to stretch the field. Norv Turner and Rob Chudzinski wouldn’t do that in Cleveland, where Gordon’s speed would be wasted. Ditto for the Jags with Shorts and Blackmon.

But Andy Reid? Dude loves the west coast offense. He is the west coast offense. He ate it.

There’s some very justifiable hesitancy about what Alex Smith we’ll get if Harbaugh isn’t his coach. Remember when his confidence was so thoroughly shattered in San Fran and his stench so strong that fans were legitimately chanting for David Carr? Yeah, that happened pre-Harbaugh, long before six percent of his pass attempts this year ended in touchdowns. But if Reid keeps being Reid and mostly asks Smith to do a great deal of dinking followed by dunking in his west coast system, Smith’s 70.2 completion percentage this past season will play quite nicely on intermediate routes.

Geno Smith will maybe, probably be a good NFL quarterback. But this draft certainly doesn’t have a Robert Griffin III or an Andrew Luck, let alone a Russell Wilson. Early in the draft season, I’m not confident there’s even a Ryan Tannehill. The quarterbacks of this class will take more time to develop, and they’re not in an immediate position for success, which is why Smith is the ideal bridge for a team with above average offensive talent if we assume that Dwayne Bowe is retained (franchise tag?).

He’d be an effective temporary solution in Cleveland, the same title he held in San Francisco. Now the Browns just have to find their Kaepernick.

And now the links part of the links post…

  • The Cardinals really seem to like this Matt Barkley kid. [Peter King]
  • Ziggy Ansah ran a 4.62 in the 40-yard dash earlier this morning with the defensive lineman on the field in Indianapolis. Get paid, kid. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]
  • Defensive backs Dee Milliner and Kenny Vaccaro are being heavily mocked to the Eagles, which makes a lot of sense. [Sheil Kapadia]
  • Denard Robinson = the steal of this year’s draft? [Mike Freeman]
  • I’ve read about and followed the events of the Combine so far because I’m a fan of the football, and, well, it’s my job. But it’s a known fact that watching too much of the Combine is extremely hazardous to your health. [Jason Gay]
  • The Jets reportedly want Santonio Holmes to restructure his contract. [CBS]