The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners

The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners
A review and commentary on the history & lastest events surrounding the 17 time NFC Western Division & 5 -Time World Champion San Francisco 49ers. From 1946 and the All America Football Conference to 2009 and the road to a 6th Super Bowl title - For true fans of the scarlet and gold! Enjoy!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Is it Really All About The QB?

How good does your team's quarterback need to be to win a SuperBowl? Does their name have to be Staubach, Montana or Unitas? Not necessarily. Trent Dilfer is one example. Brad Johnson is another. Ben Roethlisberger was a good quarterback when his Pittsburgh Steelers won it all in January 2006, but hardly a great one.

What's needed, rather, is a quarterback who plays within the system, provides enough of a passing game to keep the defense guessing, and doesn't make mistakes. Which brings us to the San Francisco 49ers ' Alex Smith. So far, making mistakes has been a recurring part of his M.O. -- not just interceptions (27 in two years) but fumbles (10 last season, five of them lost).By all accounts, Smith is a gutsy, intelligent athlete who demonstrates reasonable accuracy on short passes and can run effectively when necessary. And in fairness, some of his unfortunate decisions over the past two seasons may have come thanks to trying to learn under two very different offensive coordinators.

Still, one has to wonder if there isn't an "emperor's new clothes" aspect to all the optimism about Smith coming out of spring workouts. By at least one eyewitness account, the third-year man from Utah was usually on the money with his short and intermediate throws but still inconsistent with deeper passes. Moreover, Smith didn't exactly finish the 2006 season in a rush. Although he did have an exceptional game against Seattle late in the year, his quarterback rating was less than 70 for three of his last four contests. For the season, he averaged just over 6 yards a completion and completed only eight passes over 40 yards. Not that he has to suddenly morph into Peyton Manning. But because new O-coordinator Jim Hostler wants to continue the "vertical" passing game installed by Norv Turner, doesn't Smith need to become a little more vertical?

True, his receiving corps should be better this time around, if touted newcomers Ashley Lelie and Darrell Jackson can get over nagging injuries. A healthy Vernon Davis would also provide Smith with the best of both worlds -- a short-range security blanket with the speed to break some of those plays for long gains.What's different this year for Smith is that the team expectations are considerably higher, and that could prove interesting. His rookie year was pretty ghastly (how many other pro quarterbacks ever had a one-to-11 touchdown pass/interception ratio?), but that was within the context of a bad team. It also set the bar so low that a 16-TD/16-INT sophomore season was considered a major improvement. 49ers player personnel director Scot McCloughan is obviously trying very hard to keep the pressure of his young quarterback, saying last month, "He'll be more valuable to the team in the future than in 2007."

Yet what if 49er fans, emboldened by a strong draft and some eye-catching free-agent signings, decide that the future is now? It's easy to be patient with a struggling QB when the whole team is floundering, but what if Smith begins to look like an impediment to significant progress? Would San Francisco bench him in favor of Dilfer, Smith's backup, and risk destroying the youngster's confidence? Or would they keep playing him, thereby telling the fans that the team isn't quite ready for prime time just yet?

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