05
Dec
11

The Resurrection of Smith

In my previous blog, I discussed the 49ers QB competition between the unproven Smith and rookie Kaepernick.  After a slow start to training camp, Smith made strides to lock his job as the starting QB.

In this blog, we will reveal how Smith has managed to resurrect his career with the assistance of an offensive Guru.

With an unproven QB taking over the 49ers offense, with a new offensive system and head coach, the Niners offense were surely going to have it’s limitations in efficiency, right?  Surely this would be the case for most NFL quarterbacks in the league, but for Smith, being tough as nails, no setback was apparent.  Smith right now is coming of his career best season, throwing 15 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions, while having a QBR of over 93%.  One might wonder why Smith has had a career saving season, and the answer is there are multiple factors regarding to Smith’s success.

The Jim Harbaugh Factor

Jim Harbaugh, now the Head Coach of the 49ers, was a Quarterback in the NFL for 14 years, then went on to having a successful coaching career at Stanford University.  Previous coaches of Smith had been defensive minded, such as Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary.  Each coach did not posses their own offensive strategy and heavily relied on their offensive coordinators to lead their offenses.  The problem that occurred from this, was each of the previous seven years that Smith played under these coaches, they brought in a new coordinator, therefore not allowing Smith to progress in his development.  With Jim Harbaugh as a Head Coach, now Alex can, and has been able to live with stability.  If Harbaugh does decide to find a new offensive coordinator in the future, his offensive style will not be changed, since Harbaugh is an offensive minded coach.

Rather than just being a great Head Coach, Harbaugh has been a great mentor for Alex as well.  As i discussed in my first post, Harbaugh speaks highly of Smith, and from this has risen Smith’s confidence as a player.  Since Harbaugh knows the QB position better then anyone in the 49ers organization, he has been a great mentor to Alex’s progression this season.

Alex Smith’s Confidence

Watching old press interviews of Smith will reveal that he never seemed truly confident.  While he has always been tough, and never quit on plays, his previous coaches had never put him in a position to truly succeed.

So far this season, Alex is playing with an extra chip on his shoulder.  He is never putting his team in bad positions by committing football errors out on the field, he has commanded his offense as a true leader, and at the same time having the most fun of his seven year career.  Alex, 27 years old, is young by age, but a true veteran by experience.

Throughout his playing career, the 49ers have never had a winning record.  While many want to jump in and point their finger at poor QB play, first look who is really at fault.  Those who critique the QB position as the fault of the offense are correct, but it is not truly the QB who is at fault.

Since Smith has been in the 49er’s organization, he has been forced to make something out of nothing.  In the first few years of his career, the only true offensive threat we had was running back Frank Gore.  However, our offense had been put in many situations where they are down multiple touchdowns, and we cannot use the running game to get back into the game.  Therefore, in these many situations, Smith had been forced to throw into strong coverage just to get his team in the game.  By using this approach, you are essentially shooting yourself in the foot.  Smith in recent weeks has told reporters that early in his career, his coaches expected him to win games and command his offense when he was not ready to do so.  As a young QB in this league, you are not expected to win right away, instead good Head Coaches put their young QB into positions where they cannot fail, such as Harbaugh has done this year.

For an example of Smith being put in a situation to create something out of nothing, and being blamed, (for his coach’s failure), watch this video below:

Fast forward to this season, we see that Smith has had his lowest amount of turnovers, highest completion rating and best QBR of his career.  Smith, as well as NFL Analysts, will quickly point the cause of his success to Jim for allowing him to grow his confidence and make plays that are available, rather than fail to create something out of nothing.

How are the 49ers with Smith 2.0 this season?

With a revitalized Alex Smith, the 49ers have just clinched the NFC West, for the first time in over eight years.  They now stand on a 10-2 record after their 26-0 defeat against their division rivals, the St. Louis Rams today.  Smith production has been outstanding this season, and has proven to be a clutch quarterback in game winning situations.  The only fault to his, and the offense as a whole, would be their lack of red-zone productivity.  While Smith has one of the best red-zone ratings in the league, the offense still struggles to get touchdowns, and is often settling for field goals.  As a result, place kicker David Akers is on pace to break the 49er’s all-time field goal record with completing 32 on the season.

Click this to glance at all of Smith’s statistics.

With another side-note, Frank Gore has just broke past the 49ers all-time rushing leader Joe Perry.  Gaining 73 yards on the ground today,  Gore is now the 49er’s all-time rushing leader with 7,396 career rushing yards.  Also, Pro-Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis had to leave the game in the first quarter with a hamstring injury.  The extent of the injury is unknown, while backup Larry Grant proved to be a valuable addition to this defense, backing up Willis the remainder of the game.

Conclusion to my three posts

This Video sums up Alex’s Smiths Career perfectly:

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2 Responses to “The Resurrection of Smith”


  1. 1 Proud Niner
    December 5, 2011 at 3:20 am

    congratulations to the 49ers for clinching the NFC West title, the first since ’02!

  2. 2 docoed
    December 5, 2011 at 3:48 am

    This is an amazing season considering the past decade. Nice overview on Alex Smith’s “Resurrection”! He’s done a great job this year.

    I look forward to your comments during playoffs.


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