Got to thinking about quarterbacks and the Bears while working on a story on the return of J.T. O'Sullivan for Thursday night's preseason meeting with San Francisco at Soldier Field.
O'Sullivan had two stints with the Bears in the last four years but never merited much of a look. The one thing you can say about the organization and its search for years, make that decades, for a franchise passer is at least they haven't given one away. There hasn't been a Bears' quarterback who left and went on to greatness elsewhere. At least not recently.
Yes, the Bears dealt Bobby Layne in 1949, one year after drafting him and he went on to a Hall of Fame career. George Halas eventually called it one of his greatest errors. George Blanda spent some time in a Bears uniform as well a short time later. But recently, have they really given away a great quarterback?
Sure, they lost a coin flip with Pittsburgh in 1970 for the No. 1 pick to draft Terry Bradshaw. Kurt Warner woulda, coulda, shoulda come here for a free-agent visit in 1997 if he hadn't suffered a venomous spider bite on his right elbow while on his honeymoon. True story. But that was bad luck, a curse or both.
Yes, the organization erred in letting go of Jim Harbaugh following the 1993 season. After all, he wasn't Captain Comeback until after he left the Bears. Harbaugh went on to start the next four seasons for the Indianapolis Colts and was the Comeback Player of the Year in 1995, the only year he went to the Pro Bowl. He was a Hail Mary away from guiding his team to the Super Bowl. But did they give up on a great talent? His departure led to the ascent of Erik Kramer.
It's good for a debate.
Lovie Smith said he's not concerned about the perception of things if O'Sullivan comes in and has a good game, a performance that would lock down the starting job for him with the 49ers. That will be tough for him to do. The Niners are missing three starters on their offensive line and the defense has played pretty well since that opening drive by Kansas City in the first preseason game.