One of the matchups on which Mondays Bears-San Francisco 49ers game likely will turn, even if the two individuals are never on the field at the same time, is the one between the quarterbacks: Jason Campbell for the Bears, Alex Smith for the 49ers, assuming continuing recovery from his concussion.
Two Comcast SportsNet colleagues with considerable time around each have an interesting take:
Campbell and Smith in several key respects are the same guy.
Funny you bring up Alex Smith, CSNBayArea.coms Paul Gutierrez wrote last year in an email exchange with counterpart Matt Maiocco covering the 49ers for CSNBayArea.com. Because if you, and he, look across the Bay, you'd both see Alex's mirror image in the Raiders' quarterback Jason Campbell.
Matt has been tracking Smith since his draft by the Niners. Paul is on the Oakland Raiders now and was chronicling their goings-on when Campbell was their quarterback through mid-2011 when Campbell suffered his broken collarbone.
Matt and Paul put together an entertaining and in-depth conversation about the two quarterbacks going into last season that makes for interesting reading particularly this week when the two direct opposing teams in a game with major playoff implications.
Paul: Where Jason and Alex are the same is in each of them having a revolving door of offensive coordinators to deal with and offenses to learn EACH AND EVERY season of their NFL careers. At least Jason gets a break this year. He has the same play-caller in Hue and a familiar OC in Al Saunders, who dropped his legendary 700-page playbook in Jason's lap when both worked in Washington a few years back.
Matt saw parallels from a different slant: Finally, Smiths head coach is a person with an offensive background. If anybody should know what it's like to be Alex Smith, it's Jim Harbaugh.
In fact, it's uncanny how similar their careers began. Both Smith and Harbaugh started 50 games in their first six seasons. Harbaugh completed 57.4 percent of his passes for 9,565 yards with 43 touchdowns, 45 interceptions and a passer rating of 74.6. Smith's completion percentage is 57.1 for 9,399 yards with 51 TDs and 53 interceptions, and a passer rating of 72.1.
If Bears fans need a little shot of positive:
Paul: Consider: Since his rookie year of 2005 (yes, the same as Alex), Jasons passer rating went up every year, from 76.5 in 2006 to 77.6 to 84.3 to 86.4 before it dropped a bit to 84.5 in 2010, his first year in Oakland. But you could make a case that his emotions being toyed with by a trigger-happy and, some would say, Bruce Gradkowski-obsessed Tom Cable contributed to that.
And there is somehow always a thread that runs through Green Bay:
Matt: People tend to forget that one of the people pushing hardest for Smith was a guy by the name of Mike McCarthy, who the next year became Green Bay Packers head coach. And because of the quarterback he didn't want, Aaron Rodgers, McCarthy is now a Super Bowl-winning coach.
Check out their whole piece for a lot more on what is likely to be playing out Monday night in Candlestick Park.