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You're trying to make sense of the NFL Combine and what the 49ers are looking for and what they must do to make themselves a good team.

I'm trying to make sense of all that, too. So, naturally, I phoned former scout Dave Razzano, who had just arrived in Indianapolis for the Combine and took my call as he was checking into his hotel.

Who is Dave Razzano and why should you care about his opinion?

For starters, his dad was Tony Razzano. Does that name ring a bell? Tony ran the 49ers' scouting department from 1979-1991, all in all some pretty good years. He worked hand in hand with Bill Walsh and contributed big time to San Francisco's first four Super Bowl wins.

Dave was brought up thinking and speaking and breathing football and has been part of three Super Bowl wins in his own right — five in all. So, you bet I phoned him. Here's what we talked about.

"Dave, if you were running the 49ers, what would you do with Alex Smith."

Razzano didn't answer right away. I heard what I took to be a sound of self-strangulation all those miles away on the phone line.

"I would send him on his way," Razzano finally managed to enunciate. "He may not find any suitors. Teams aren't going to line up to sign him unless as a backup."

"But Jim Harbaugh has said he likes what he sees from Smith," I said.

"I know," Razzano said. "Harbaugh is starting to be enamored of him. I understand that. Coaches are positive guys and they always think they can improve players. Harbaugh has been looking at cut-ups of Smith's best plays — he won't see him fumbling in the fourth quarter. And he's thinking, &‘I can work with this guy.' Harbaugh is thinking he wants to start with a clean slate (with Smith). But Smith already has gotten two coaches fired."

"Should the 49ers use their first pick (No. 7) on a quarterback?

"The Niners probably can't sign a quarterback, so they'll have to draft one," Razzano said.

Quick note: Without a collective bargaining agreement, teams won't be able to sign current NFL players as free agents. That is what Razzano was referring to.

Back to Razzano.

"Cam Newton is the only quarterback with potential they can use that pick on," Razzano continued. "Not Blaine Gabbert (Missouri), not in the first round. He's Andrew Walter (who played, not so well, for the Raiders). He's a fringe guy. Gabbert should go in the third or fourth round. He will get way over-drafted."

Quick note on Gabbert: Many scouts are in love with him, so Razzano represents a minority school of thought. This you should know. Gabbert comes from a shotgun spread offense just like Alex Smith. He runs out of the pocket under pressure but tends to be ineffective on the run, also just like Smith. Harbaugh tried to recruit him for Stanford out of high school, actually preferred him to Andrew Luck.

"What about Washington's Jake Locker as a pick for the 49ers?"

"I love Locker," Razzano said. "People are concerned about his accuracy. I'm not. He's going to be good in the NFL when he's surrounded by talent. At Washington he had no offensive line and only one receiver. But there's only one top-10 quarterback and that's Newton."

"What do you expect the 49ers to do in the draft and do you see them taking a quarterback with their first pick?"

"I think they will take the best available guy on defense," Razzano said. "And then they'll go quarterback in the second or third round. They're in a bit of a pickle right now. It wouldn't shock me if they take a receiver."

"Who do you think will make the decisions for the 49ers?"

"Harbaugh is an opinionated guy," Razzano said. "His opinion could be more of a determining factor than the GM's (Trent Baalke). They're paying him $25 million. I always say, &‘follow the money.'"

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.

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