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Pete Carroll: Geno Smith is still leading the quarterback competition

Mike Florio and Myles Simmons don't see why, despite the 49ers' best efforts, any team would swoop for Jimmy Garoppolo before the 49ers cut him.

When Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made a temporary exit from practice due to a COVID diagnosis, Geno Smith was leading the quarterback competition. Now that Carroll is back, Smith continues to hold the top spot on the depth chart.

Carroll addressed the quarterback competition with reporters on his first day back with the team. He confirmed that Smith remains the frontrunner, for now.

“They keep doing stuff every day, and they’re making plays,” Carroll said of Smith and Drew Lock. “They both make plays every day. I’m watching to see how it swings; if it goes heavy one way, heavy the other way. The guys are doing a nice job. We’re working hard to match up the reps with the guys that play up in front, and the receivers, we’re working to get that done, and that’ll happen, and you’ll see how it happens again tomorrow, how the reps are handed out, just so that we can make it a really even competition.

“Geno continues to be on top, he’s ahead, he’s been in the lead for all the obvious reasons, and he’s holding onto it and doing a really good job of battling. Both guys are communicating beautifully, they’re learning well, we don’t have any issues with anything we’re trying to do. There are no issues here where we have to ‘Oh, we can’t quite do this or that with this guy or that guy,’ it isn’t like that. They’re very talented arm-wise, and the ability to throw the ball down the field is there. So, let the games begin. Getting out there, now we’re in the middle of it, and we’ll see what happens. It’s a really big day tomorrow. It’ll be a really big day tomorrow.”

So why is Geno still the No. 1 guy?

“He’s just doing things right,” Carroll said. “He handles the system, he’s making the checks at the line of scrimmage, he’s able to control the protections and working with [center] Austin [Blythe], those guys are hitting it really well, and he’s just really talented. He’s made great throws every day. I’m still looking for them to really come in, and really own it, and put days together where they don’t have any negative plays, the plays that they wish they had back. So, in a sense, there’s been openings for both guys by not having the complete day, getting everything done, and finishing the day close to perfect.”

This implies that there’s still a path for Drew Lock to win the job. What does he need to do to make it happen?

“Just stay out there,” Carroll said. “He just needs to stay out there and show us how he’s going to make his decisions when the big opportunities come. He’s made a ton of plays already. He’s made a ton of good throws, he really runs well, he’s elusive, he has a really quick trigger, his ability to release the football shows up, he has a lot of talent now. So we just need reps. We need turns, we just need to see more situations to really find any reason to see a difference between the guys. There’s just not enough stuff yet.”

Plenty of that stuff will come in the preseason, apparently. The Seahawks continue to keep the timetable for making a decision for the Week One return of Russell Wilson close to the vest. It will be interesting to see who starts each of the first two preseason games, and whether the Seahawks will run the competition all the way through the third exhibition.

Vaguely looming over the competition is the possibility that the final answer will be “none of the above,” with an effort to pursue someone like 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo if he’s not traded to another team. Eventually, he’ll be cut. By then, however, there won’t be much time for Garoppolo to walk through the door and prove himself to be the best option -- even if on paper he’s arguably a better choice than Smith or Lock.