Never mind that only the Jets can force a lame-duck head coach on the rookie general manager and a rookie quarterback on the lame-duck head coach. Let the Geno Smith Era begin.

Maybe Smith will prove to be a franchise quarterback this franchise desperately needs, maybe he won’t. You never know. There’s never any guarantee. But after what we have seen the past two years from Mark Sanchez, dropping the ball and throwing it away the way he did, it is time to find out whether Smith is, if you have the conviction that he is.

It is over for Sanchez. At best, coach Rex Ryan no longer blindly believes in him, or has enough self-preservation instincts to recognize that he can no longer defend him to Woody Johnson. At worst, all of them, Johnson, GM John Idzik and Ryan, have moved on emotionally from their once-beloved Sanchise. And have every right to.

The message to Sanchez, from the New York Jets:

Butt Out.

“I’m ready to compete, I’m ready to go in there and try to win a starting job,” Smith said last night at Radio City Music Hall.

Idzik Friday night would not even guarantee that Sanchez would make it to OTAs.

“We’re going to take this one step at a time,” Idzik said. “Let things play out. I don’t want to put the cart before the horse.”

And Sanchez ain’t his Secretariat.

You only can wonder what Ryan was thinking at 7:07 p.m. last night when Roger Goodell introduced Wayne Chrebet to announce the 39th pick at Radio City Music Hall, and you can only imagine what Sanchez was thinking.

Because Geno Smith is not Tim Tebow. He is not David Garrard. He isn’t here to run the Wildcat.

He’s here to be the next Jets franchise quarterback.

“We’re going to the playoffs next year,” Smith said.

Cut the kid some slack, he’s still recovering from an agonizing night in the green room waiting futilely for his name to be called Thursday night.

Only two summers ago, Ryan was dreaming about a 10-year run with Sanchez, once the apple of his eye, the kid who charmed the pants off him and then-GM Mike Tannenbaum and Johnson.