NFL Free Agency: Pat White Is Exactly What the 49ers Need


Feb 3, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh watches from the sideline during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Various outlets are reporting that Pat White is scheduled to hold a workout with the San Francisco 49ers and coach Jim Harbaugh this week.

White last played for the Miami Dolphins in the 2010 season. His 2010 campaign was cut short by a serious concussion incurred against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17 of the 2009 season. The Dolphins released White the following off-season.

Since his abrupt release from the Dolphins, White has been seeking a way back into the NFL. The former Mountaineers quarterback worked out recently for scouts at the West Virginia pro day, throwing alongside recent Mountaineers star Geno Smith.

Just when it seemed as though White’s comeback tour had not generated much interest, there appears to be a glimmer of hope for the resurrection of White’s career.

If the 49ers were to sign Pat White, it would be one of the most shrewd moves coach Harbaugh has ever made.

What the 49ers are getting in White is one of the premier running quarterbacks at any level of football. In White’s four years at WVU, he amassed 4,480 yards rushing and 6,049 yards passing in Rich Rodriguez’s spread option attack. White’s blistering speed and shiftiness made White one of the most difficult players to tackle in the open field.

With the emergence of agile quarterbacks such as Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, and Robert Griffin III, the zone option read has become the latest offensive trend in the NFL. The zone option read puts the onus on defensive ends to stay at home or surrender long runs to the quarterback off tackle.

You pull up any highlight reel of Pat White and you will see that he excels at that very read:

So why would signing Pat White be a huge benefit to the 49ers?

The most obvious reason is the very nature of the zone read option. When you run this kind of offense, you are continually exposing your quarterback to hits, more hits than a prototypical quarterback takes in the course of a game. The more shots your quarterback takes, the greater chance your quarterback is going to end up with a major injury.

That fact was driven home this past post-season when Redskins star Robert Griffin III went down with torn knee ligaments. Even Pat White himself should serve as an example of how mobile quarterbacks are highly prone to major injuries.

By signing Pat White, the 49ers would get a low cost insurance policy for Colin Kaepernick. White can run the option as effectively as Kaepernick can, if not better. This way, when Kaepernick gets injured (yes I mean when (no I’m not wishing it on the guy), there is no doubt that he, like every mobile quarterback, will suffer a nasty injury at some point) the 49ers will be able to still execute the full suite of plays in their playbook. An option that is not possible to execute with a prototypical backup quarterback like the departed Alex Smith.

Pat White makes too much sense for the 49ers. Coach Harbaugh and the 49ers brass should lock down Pat White for a low cost insurance policy.