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!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Smith Toughs It Out, But Guts Alone Aren't Enough

To begin, it is commendable that Alex Smith played through obvious pain in the Niners 31 - 10 drubbing at the hands of the Saints on Sunday. Toughness is a great quality in a player and in particular, in a quarterback, considered to be the most important leader on a football team. Having said that, with a 2 - 5 record - the same mark the 49ers had at this point last year, it is time to start thinking about where this season is headed and where this franchise and its most important position are headed.

There were great expectations for both Alex Smith and the 49ers this year. Playoff expectations, mentions of division title contention, and yes even a bold Super Bowl appearance prediction (Matt Williamson - While Smith has always carried himself with humility and a great attitude, one has to wonder if the team as a whole might have read a few too many press clipping and begun to believe their own hype. It has to be a question you ask when trying to explain this backslide in progress. The defense, much improved on paper, began the year with resolve, and results, essentially winning the first 2 games by themselves, but are now begining to show cracks, and injuries. The offensive line, improved on paper through the draft and internal development was expected to improve on a run blocking scheme that made Frank Gore a household name, and was maybe, just maybe looking at the end of last year like they would turn the corner in pass protection. Well, the later hasn't happened and now, it is affecting the running game as well. With no threat in the air, teams are loading 7 or 8 in the box and overmatching the O-line.

Which brings us back to Smith. From the moment he stepped onto the field in 2005, I have wanted more than anything to look at Alex Smith and see the ingredients there for a franchise player - a quarterback that could lead his team to a Super Bowl. Maybe that's wishful thinking with a mid-round picked signal caller or a free-agent, but this guy was taken 1st overall. When a team takes a quarterback that high, you should expect Peyton Manning, Troy Aikman or heck, at least even Eli Manning capabilities and see even flashes of those capabilities by year 3. That simply is not the case here. Yes, those players did have more to work with as time went on, but unlike Smith, they were able to put a team on their backs early on and make chicken salad out of chicken s*#t at least on occasion, regardless of the talent level around them. Smith hasn't done that - not even once, in 30 NFL games to date. For all his smarts and athletic abilities, no matter what the o-line in front of him is capable of, he should be able to lead a team to the endzone, AT LEAST once or twice a game to be considered as a franchise quarterback in this league.

It is easy to sit back and play "Monday Morning QB", I know, but you just have to watch him to see - it isn't adding up somehow. Smith's pocket presence, ability to see the field, and check down properly to open receivers have never been apparent from the start. Now, it appears his accuracy even to open receivers has escaped him as well. Smith was 22 of 43 for 190 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. Ignoring the final "feel good" touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, his completion percentage was forgetable. Most of his throws are tough catches at best and quite often he is either missing an open man or putting the targets in a bad spot to have to either climb the ladder or expose themselves for a big hit. Vernon Davis, whom I was unsure of, as far as focus, is beginning to show signs of life, when healthy. Frank Gore, despite struggles this year, mostly because of poor line play, shows the passion and ability to be a solid No. 1 back. They have receivers that can catch the ball, what few times a game they see it, so look at where the weak link is.

Even if a boat load of blame has to be laid at the feet of Mike Nolan, and offensive coordinator Jim Hostler, Smith isn't executing regardless. A number 1 pick and franchise quarterback has to be able to get it done, even once in a blue moon. We are still waiting to see it even once from Smith. The question now is: How long are the 49ers, Mike Nolan, and the fans willing to wait.

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