Alex Smith overcame plenty to get back into the starting lineup for the 49ers. Now comes the hard part: proving to the organization that he’s the answer for 2010 and beyond.
Matt Maiocco of Santa Rosa Press Democrat believes Smith is well on his way. “I think Smith will be the 49ers’ undisputed starter heading into 2010 unless he really disappoints in these final five games,” Maiocco writes.
It’s a topic that everyone has an opinion on in the Bay Area.
Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle thinks Smith has to keep winning, which should be possible with a soft schedule.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee believes Smith needs more leadership skills, and Smith has been “painfully slow” to take over the last few games.
Smith’s performance has been mixed in his five starts this season, but the numbers aren’t bad. (6.5 yards per attempt, 11 TDs, 7 INTs.) He looks more comfortable out of the shotgun than behind center, and numbers back it up.
Smith can play cautiously, but the 49ers staff showed confidence in him by calling 29 first half passes against Jacksonville. That’s a far cry from Mike Singletary’s preferred ground-and-pound approach.
We’re quick to make judgments on quarterbacks, especially top picks. Smith’s story is yet to be told. It feels like Smith has been around forever, but he’s only 25 years old — the same age as Brady Quinn.
The 49ers probably won’t make the playoffs, but they have more to feel positive about on offense than any time since Steve Mariucci left. Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree have emerged as franchise cornerstones.
Smith’s positive moments this year don’t prove yet he’s ready to join them, but he’s earned every opportunity to do so.