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A fan chants "We want Carr" late in the fourth quarter of the San Francisco 49ers vs. Philadelphia Eagles game on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Calif. Philadelphia defeated San Francisco 27-24. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Staff)

There it was Sunday night, earsplitting proof of temporary insanity among the Bay Area's largest fan base.

The people wanted David Carr. Thousands upon thousands of 49ers fans at Candlestick Park, sick of witnessing the errors of Alex Smith, stood as one and called loud and long for David "Are You Serious" Carr.

Forgive them, please, for such lunacy. Otherwise sane folks tend to make unsound decisions when under the influence of inflamed emotions.

If there is one thing Smith has done, it's inflame emotions. He was a No. 1 overall draft pick. Paid millions for the privilege of standing where Joe Montana once stood, Smith has been maddeningly inconsistent, by turns good and ghastly. He lacks bravado. He has been average by NFL standards, with the misfortune of toiling before fans accustomed to superiority -- fans who once thought Steve Young was unworthy of their support.

Well, those fans, along with their sons and daughters, are unleashing upon the head of Smith the reactive wrath engendered by his failing to meet their unrealistic standards and being the co-symbol, along with coach Mike Singletary, of the 0-5 49ers.

At the risk of intensifying the overheated, myopic hysteria, consider this our intrepid attempt to inject a measure of reason into the discussion.

Let's assume Smith is not ready and may never be ready to lift the quality of the 49ers, that he'll never be the equal of Peyton Manning or Tom Brady or Brett Favre, the active quarterbacks certain to reach the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


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Let's assume, too, that Smith won't reach the next level of NFL QBs, that of Drew Brees and Donovan McNabb and Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. Or that Smith won't reach the third tier, where we find veterans such as Matt Schaub and Tony Romo and Michael Vick and Eli Manning, along with relative youngsters Aaron Rodgers and Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan.

That leaves the 49ers and 17 other teams with quarterbacks who probably won't make the difference. Some, such as Matt Hasselbeck and David Garrard, are nearing the end. Others, such as Jay Cutler and Vince Young, still are striving for consistency.

The point is most teams don't have the luxury of a great, or very good, quarterback.

Despite youthful inconsistency or veteran mediocrity, some teams have found a win or three. Pittsburgh went 3-1 with old Charlie Batch and young Dennis Dixon while Roethlisberger served his suspension. Kansas City, the last team to lose a game, is 3-1 with ordinary Matt Cassel. NFC West leader Arizona (3-2) demoted Derek Anderson and turned to somebody named Max Hall.

Smith's 71.6 quarterback rating ranks just below that of Flacco (72.1), identified as Baltimore's young franchise QB, and just above that of Bruce Gradkowski (71.1), whom the Raiders and their fans have grown to love.

Smith is 16 months younger than Gradkowski, eight months older than Flacco. Smith is smarter than either, and his pure talent likely falls somewhere in between.

Flacco's Ravens (4-1), however, have the best record in the AFC. We've all seen how atrocious Cutler can be, yet Chicago's 4-1 record is tied for the best in the NFC. There is more to winning than great quarterbacking.

As the chant for Carr rattled about the stadium, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, supposedly too sore to play, was averaging 5 yards a carry. On a third-and-18 play, Kevin Kolb, hardly the runner Vick is, rambled 19 yards for a first down.

Wasn't defense supposed to be the strength of these 49ers? Weren't an average offense and a stout defense thought to be enough to win the NFC West?

If the 49ers hold onto second-half leads against New Orleans and Atlanta, would folks still believe the road to the playoffs is paved by the leadership and skills of David Carr?

Singletary on Monday said he was staying with Smith, that he believes Smith is "the best quarterback on this team."

The coach has been known to deny the obvious, but he's making the right call.

When I asked Singletary what he thought of his team, aside from Smith, his answer was obvious and true.

"We have to do everything better," he said.

If you want to blame the 49ers for anything, it's the failure to vigorously pursue McNabb in the offseason, for placing all faith in Smith.

Smith claimed Monday that he's at his best when he's aggressive and, therefore, he will become more consistently aggressive. Maybe he will. Maybe the 49ers will go 9-2 the rest of the way.

There are two things, though, about which we can be certain. Smith is playing in a town where quarterback mediocrity doesn't fly. And Carr is not the solution.

Contact Monte Poole at mpoole@bayareanewsgroup.com.