San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith had one of the best games of his professional career today in leading the 49ers to a 20-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Smith completed 27 of 41 passes for 232 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. For the second straight week he looked like the kind of smart, accurate decision-maker the 49ers thought he’d be when they chose him with the first pick in the 2005 NFL draft — and feared he’d never be when his first four seasons were largely disappointing.
The 49ers’ defense had a big game, recovering two fumbles from Jaguars quarterback David Garrard and keeping running back Maurice Jones-Drew from breaking any long runs. The Jaguars did sustain some long drives, but between Garrard’s fumbles and two missed field goals from Josh Scobee, San Francisco managed to hold Jacksonville to just three points.
With the Jaguars’ loss, the Colts clinched the AFC South. The 6-5 Jaguars are still in the thick of the wild card race, but this was a disappointing showing for a team that has playoff aspirations.
The 49ers, who improved to 5-6, are now two games behind the Cardinals in the NFC West and two games out in the wild card race. They’re probably not a playoff team, but the mere fact that Alex Smith has them in playoff contention is a pleasant surprise for San Francisco.