The Kansas City Chiefs' seemingly endless search for a quarterback has settled on Alex Smith, and the deal – which includes multiple draft picks – will work or wilt based on a simple question.
Is the Alex Smith the Chiefs are getting the same one who played well for the San Francisco 49ers the past couple of years, or is that guy mostly the product of Jim Harbaugh's coaching?
Smith's performance prior to Harbaugh's 2011 arrival to coach the Niners compared to his performance under Harbaugh's leadership is striking.
If Smith can maintain what he learned and sustain, or even escalate, his recent development, then the Chiefs' nearly two-decade hunt for a quality QB – it's been 19 years since Joe Montana's final act ended – is over.
If Smith can't play well without Harbaugh, a former longtime NFL QB himself, then this could be the latest pratfall for a franchise that is always scrambling for a franchise QB – and a waste of a 2013 early second-round pick (33rd overall) and a conditional pick in 2014.
The numbers are too obvious to ignore.
From 2005-10, Smith's per-game QB rating was 76.5. From 2011 until Colin Kaepernick replaced him in the middle of the 2012 season, it was 95.9.