Commentary

The Alex Smith bubble

Matt Flynn? Peyton Manning? Niners should look, because the Smith bubble can pop

Originally Published: January 27, 2012
By Chris Sprow | ESPN Insider

Alex Smith is a one-man housing bubble. The San Francisco 49ers just don't know it.

See, in a housing bubble, the most painful realization happens when an owner learns the value of his or her home, the actual price, can have little to do with the tangible, like equity, or location, or even the new pool purchased with a Christmas bonus. No, the value is really just an indicator, a measure of demand. The home didn't create the value, the economy did. And if you place all belief in the home as a symbol of stability, if you believe in it as a commodity that won't drop in value, it can ruin you.

In the NFL, there's no greater symbol of stability than a good quarterback. Get that position locked up, build equity, and you may struggle, but you avoid starting over. Teams don't just sell quarterbacks when they appear to peak in value because when times are good, your emotions convince you (a) it won't drop in price, and (b) it could even get better. The market is good, the quarterback is good, and suddenly, "Maybe he really is worth that much."

But Smith isn't. Not a long-term deal, at least, something the Niners may hand him.

San Francisco went 13-3 this season, but not because of Smith. Like a home amid a bubble, his value is inflated because the team was good; the team wasn't good because Smith spiked in value. And whether it's Matt Flynn, Peyton Manning or even Kyle Orton brought in to compete with Smith, the 49ers must at least look for a better answer if they want to maximize the window of a very good roster.