Colt McCoy should be used to running for his life after playing quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. Now, thanks to the recent trade between Cleveland and the San Francisco 49ers, the University of Texas legend will get a chance to scramble on his own terms.
The four-year pro, who many argue never got a fair shake with the hapless Browns, will likely fall into the backup role behind Colin Kaepernick. There are questions as to whether he can stand out in a pistol offense that emphasizes mobility, but Longhorn fans will be quick to remind skeptics that McCoy was deceptively quick in college.
Nobody should expect McCoy to match Kaepernick stride for stride, should he have to step in as a starter at some point, but that doesn't mean he can't be a reliable quarterback. And it's not like the 49ers are permanently committed to calling the same plays with McCoy as Kaepernick. The 49ers will be smart enough to build a game plan devoted to McCoy's strengths.
The opportunity to work with head coach Jim Harbaugh, who might be the most intense man in football and a shoe-in as a spokesman for Five Hour Energy, can only make McCoy a better quarterback. Harbaugh came into San Francisco and transformed Alex Smith from interception machine to a reliable and respectable starter. To prove the point, Smith threw 10 interceptions in the season before Harbaugh took over, as many as he threw in the two years with Harbaugh.
McCoy's greatest strength is his passing accuracy and his stats should only improve in San Francisco, now that he has a legitimate core of receivers and respectable offensive line. Which would you rather have; Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, and Mario Manningham or Greg Little, Ben Watson, and Josh Gordon (who is admittedly a rising star)? We haven't seen what McCoy is capable of with a solid supporting cast. And there's a little irony that McCoy will be passing to Crabtree, the Texas Tech product who was responsible for crushing Texas' title hopes in 2009. (Sorry, it had to be said.)
There's an argument to be made that McCoy, relegated to sit behind the NFL's flavor of the month, is going to waste the prime of his career riding the pine. To paraphrase Obi-Wan Kenobi, you'll find that truths all depend on a certain point of view. If you're expecting McCoy to step in and lead the 49ers to a title, you're probably going to be let down. However, if McCoy bides his time, displays the leadership abilities he is known for, and stands out in any game he fills in, there could be a chance to land a starting position on another team in the future. After all, Matt Flynn got paid by two teams after TWO career starts in Green Bay. Patience could pay off big for McCoy. Ask Alex Smith, who is expected to start in Kansas City after losing his starting position in San Francisco.
Any way you look at it, Colt McCoy is winning with the trade to San Francisco. He's now working under a QB guru in Harbaugh, has a chance to win a title as a member of arguably the best team in the NFL, and gets the chance to cut his teeth with one of the better receiving groups in the pros. McCoy has looked lost in the pros up until now. With San Francisco, he has finally found a home.