Regardless of the tough loss in the NFC Championship Game, the San Francisco 49ers far exceeded expectations in the 2011 season. It is time to reflect on one of the biggest contributing factors in the turnaround: renaissance of Alex Smith.
There is no doubt that he stunk in the NFC Championship Game where he only threw for 196 yards and was an awful 1-for-13 on third down. The 49ers did not convert a third down until the last desperate heave of regulation to Delanie Walker and couldn’t manage much offense in overtime. Although Kyle Williams is the player that everyone is focusing on in the loss, Smith would have been the goat if it hadn’t been for Williams’ two fumbles.
However, it is rare for a player to struggle so much in the first six seasons of his career to suddenly be relevant again. I have not been much of an Alex Smith supporter in recent years, and his dreadful performance in the NFC Championship Game is giving me pause about his future, but there is no doubt he had a great season overall.
For the record, I don’t think that Smith is an elite NFL quarterback and never will be, but he is the right guy in San Francisco for the moment or until someone like a healthy Peyton Manning becomes available.
Alex Smith’s resurgence this season got me thinking about how his 2011 compares to the other No. 1 overall selections over the last decade or so. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Smith did not do too bad in comparison to his brothers in the fraternity of No. 1 picks.
For fun, I’ve also looked at some notable players (mostly quarterbacks) from each of the drafts in the last ten years.