Alex Smith went 18 of 19 against the highly regarded and 6th ranked Arizona Cardinals defense this week. On the road, I might add. Does anyone else remember the chants for David Carr or Troy Smith in 2010, as Alex Smith’s career as a no.1 overall pick inched closer towards the label of bust? They sure do seem funny in retrospect, what with Troy Smith in the UFL now, and Carr keeping Eli’s bench mighty warm.
All the more comical with Alex Smith’s dominant performance in the spotlight on Monday, as another testament to the all too obvious fact that he is more than just a game manager. Then again, I’m sure there is not a quarterback in the league who would say it’s hard to get their career on track with a new playbook every off season. Continuity is just so overrated, hell, look at the Patriots...
After the disastrous tenure of Mike Singletary came to a painfully overdue end I couldn’t help but write Alex Smith off as well, and was skeptical of the move to keep him on a one year reward-our-faith-please type deal under the new Harbaugh regime. Can’t complain with the results. He just continues to improve under crazy-eyes Harbaugh every week. Maybe we’re overlooking the comforting effects of Harbaugh’s cardigans on Smith’s game... Or the NFL world seems to have forgotten he was a first overall pick. The talent is there, it didn’t just vanish in the haze of poor coaching that plagued the first six years of his career. Best of all for Niners fans, it will only get better from here. Like Harbaugh said, it takes about two years to master his take on the west coast offense, and he is definitely ahead of the curve. That was before he called Smith critics “jive turkey gobblers” too, maintaining its genuineness and sanity in the messenger.
In all seriousness though, and jive turkey gobblers aside, maybe it’s time we gave credit where credit is due where Smith is concerned. Maybe, just maybe, he’s better than his “game manager” label would indicate. He’s overcome a lot to get where he’s at, and Davis and Crabtree aside his receiving corps doesn’t even come close to deserving of the off season hype it received. That’s not to say they’re not a good group, realistically though his only receiver with a 1,000+ yard season under their belt is Moss, and although I think he’s been good this year, he hasn’t been 1,000+ yard good. The receiving corps is the least of his worries though really. I think unfair expectations early in his career, a new playbook on his lap as soon as he’s “grasped” the last one, and a once awful receiving corps would be enough to shatter anyone’s confidence, never mind the weekly chants for him to be replaced.
Yet, here he is.
He’s got the fourth best passer rating at 102.1 (yeah, that’s better than Brady so far), he’s on pace to shatter his career high in touchdowns, and if you don’t take into account the week 6 debacle against the defending champion Giants, he’s got two interceptions on the year. Not too shabby for a game manager, am I right?