SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- They're No. 1. Twice.
With David Carr backing up Alex Smith, the San Francisco 49ers have the unusual distinction of having two No. 1 overall draft pick quarterbacks on their roster. Smith was drafted first by the 49ers in 2005, three years after the Houston Texans took Carr in the same spot.
Smith and Carr have struggled to prove themselves as dependable, consistent players. Although a quarterback's "starting record" is a dubious statistic -- these aren't pitchers, after all; games are lost all kinds of ways -- it's worth noting that teams quarterbacked by Smith have gone 16-24 (.400), and Carr's teams have gone 23-56 (.291).
Smith does have a reason to feel good as he heads into this season, however. For the first time since college, he will have the same offensive coordinator from one season to the next, and won't have to scrap one system and learn another.
"When you're bouncing year in and year out, compared to having that consistency with somebody going through a whole season and to have them the off-season and going into training camp, it's like night and day," said Smith, coming off his first season in which he had more touchdowns (18) than interceptions (12).
Carr, signed in March, was coming from another situation where he backed up a fellow No. 1 pick, Eli Manning of the New York Giants. There's no guarantee Carr will be No. 2 in San Francisco; the promising Nate Davis is vying for that job too.
At least Carr has a job. This year, as one more No. 1 quarterback entered the league (Sam Bradford, St. Louis), another left (JaMarcus Russell, released by Oakland).
Smith is happy to be working again with offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye.
"Alex Smith, at this point, it's his football team, his offense," Raye said. "He is as comfortable as I've seen him in the 370-some days that I've been here.... The progress has been very good."
But Raye added: "I told him the other day, 'The perception that people have of you -- how you look, how you play, how you throw and all of that -- really, the only criteria that we're going to be judged by is, does he win?"'