San Francisco, CA. Talk about a redemption story that nobody saw coming, probably not even Alex Smith. After being selected with the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, it has been one very rocky road for the San Francisco 49ers quarterback. That road, many times, led him down a path where he was probably on his way out. Awful play, not seeming to grow and get better, and a lack of confidence made just about everyone question whether or not he would ever become a productive NFL QB. Throughout his first five years as a pro, he was constantly bounced around from playing, to being benched, as all 49ers fans wondered how much longer he would even be in San Francisco. But two weeks into the 2012 season, Alex Smith has solidified himself as the San Francisco 49ers starting QB. In fact, he is proving that he is good enough to lead this team to a Super Bowl victory, as soon as this year.
Five years into his NFL career, Alex Smith threw 51 TD’s and 53 interceptions. During the 2011 off-season, many who followed the 49ers wondered if he would be back, or if San Francisco would look elsewhere for their QB of the future. In fact a few things pointed to Smith not being a 49er anymore. First, the team hired Jim Harbaugh to be its new head coach. After much success basically everywhere he did coach, Harbaugh took on the challenge of trying rebuild this once proud franchise. Soon after, at the 2011 NFL Draft, the 49ers made an interesting choice in the 2nd round. They chose QB Colin Kaepernick from the University of Nevada with the 36th overall pick. San Francisco fans as well as NFL fans saw this as a clear indication that Alex Smith was now history, and the team was moving on. A new coach, and now a new QB spelled curtains for the former first overall pick. But as that off-season went on, Alex Smith didn’t go anywhere, and come opening day in 2011, he was still the 49ers starter. But why? It made perfect sense to get rid of him after 5 terrible seasons. But for some reason, Jim Harbaugh stuck with him, and the San Francisco 49ers stunned the NFL world last year to say the least. It’s pretty safe to say that the rebuilding job he took on is way ahead of schedule, as the team is now 16-4 under his leadership, including playoffs. But the transformation of Alex Smith is nothing less than shocking. Since the beginning of 2011, he has thrown 21 TD’s and just 5 interceptions. He looks like a completely different QB in the pocket, and exudes confidence as well as an impressive amount of toughness. Whatever happened to his game over the last year or so is anyone’s guess. When asked about it, he calls out his teammates as the ones who have made him look better. But something happened when Harbaugh came into the fold, and this team and this offense is gelling around him. This San Francisco 49ers team looks to be picking up right where they left off in 2011, and Alex Smith is showing that he is the right guy for the job.
Alex Smith has been called a “game manager” countless times throughout his NFL career. If my memory serves me correctly, a few other “game managers” won a Super Bowl here and there. Brad Johnson, Trent Dilfer, and even Tom Brady in his first go around in the 2001 season, to name a few. Those guys won the big game because their skills were combined with tenacious defenses, which is exactly what the San Francisco 49ers have right now. This defense just looks different from any other unit in the NFL right now. They are skilled at every position, and when they tackle someone, that someone goes down. Going over the middle seems to be a treacherous situation for any receiver, as the likelihood that the receiver is gonna take a beating is quite high. This San Francisco 49ers team, with a fiery head coach, an efficient offense, and a punishing defense, seems to be poised to dominate the NFC in 2012. For Alex Smith, a Super Bowl trophy would complete this unbelievable story of retribution, and a story nobody could have realistically seen playing out just a short time ago.
Denver Sports by J Simp