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, October 14, 2007

Alex or Eli? Which Number 1 Pick Would You Take?

Next Sunday, the Niners will travel to the New Jersey Meadowlands to face a resurgent New York Giants team led by 2004 first overall draft choice Eli Manning. Alex Smith is expected to return for the 49ers, setting up an interesting comparison of progress for these two young signal callers. Smith, as we well know, was the 1st pick in '05. So who would you take of these two to run your team? There are alot of similarities in the development of these two young quarterbacks. They share an agent, Tom Condon, both have separated a shoulder this year, and both would have to be considered underachievers to this point. But let's look at each player and see where they compare in measureables and intangibles, head to head.

Alex Smith, 23, is still among the league's youngest QBs, even now in his third season in the NFL. Smith has the size, intelligence, and athlete ability to be as good as any in the league. After one of the worst rookie seasons in recent memory, he made the biggest passer rating single season improvement in NFL history, going from a putrid 40.8 in 2005 to 74.8 last season. This year, Smith has gone backwards a bit, been seemingly reigned in and restrained by a ridiculously conservative passing attack despite improvements in the offseason to give him more targets. With the somewhat questionable exception of Antonio Bryant in 2006, Smith has not had even an NFL caliber - 3rd string level receiver to throw to at this point in his career. That's what makes his improvement encouraging from last year, that he could improve that much, despite the lack of weapons, (thank you, Norv Turner), but all the more frustrating with his puny stats and opportunities this season. The rest of this season, and the supposed plan to "open up the passing game" more, should tell us a lot about which direction Smith may head in after this year. Will he be a number 1 pick like Aikman or Peyton, or a Tim Couch underachiever?

Have a look at Smith's career numbers below and compare with Eli's. When you subtract the extra season worth of games - 17 more for Manning, look at some of the measureables like completion percentage and rushing stats, (mobility). Aside from the obvious differences, like Mannings advantage in touchdown passes and yardage (partly better targets, partly an extra year's experience), they seem to be on the same pace in other areas.

Alex Smith - Drafted 1st overall in 2005 NFL Draft
Age: 23 Ht/Wt: 6-4, 212, Born: 5/7/1984

Total 29 Games 384/ 691 , 55.6 PCT., 4226 YDS, 18 TD 28 INT - 65.7 Rating
Rushing - 82 ATT 317 YDS 2 TD

Eli Manning - Drafted 1st overall in 2004 NFL Draft
Age: 26 Ht/Wt: 6-4, 218, Born: 1/3/1981

Total 46 Games 782 /1433, 54.6 PCT., 9125 YDS, 63 TD 50 INT - 74.2 Rating
Rushing - 69 ATT 149 YDS 1 TD

Eli Manning, 26, faces probably more pressure to win being in the New York sports landscape than any other NFL quarterback. He has had highs and lows, had success and failure. Manning led the Giants to the playoffs in 2005, his first full season as a starter, but had a so-so year last year as the Giants went 8-8. Eli has had more weapons from the start than Smith, with Jeremy Shockey, Tiki Barber, Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress at his disposal. Now, with the retirement of Barber, Manning is forced to carry more pressure to deliver without a solid rushing game. Manning has the stronger arm of the two, and greater pocket presence, but Smith has to get the edge on mobility and scrambling. Both have gone through phases of great durability and ironically, this year both have suffered the first major injuries of their careers, in both cases, a separated shoulder. Manning hasn't missed time, while Smith will have missed two games. Manning has the edge, obviously, in experience and has both delivered, and had the opportunity to deliver in the clutch far more than Smith. The Niners have been competitive in far less games than the Giants.

At this crossroads in their careers, the edge goes to Eli both on results and talent level around him. He is making the most of his abilities and has more help than Smith. Alex has more raw talent and could have more upside, but will his situation in San Francisco improve in time for him to show that potential. The clock is ticking for both these quarterbacks to take the next step in their careers. They both need lots of improvement and both have coaches who may hurt their development while coming under fire to deliver wins to save their respective jobs. Eli is under more pressure, but looks like the more sound bet to be able to one day lead his team to a Superbowl. Alex has youth on his side, and is 3 years in at 23, where Eli was a rookie spectator at 23.

Watch each quarterback closely when they have the ball. Things like calmness and pocket presence, which Eli has and Alex needs, will tell you alot about where these two are headed.

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