Who would have thought that by the end of the 2011-2012 NFL season Alex Smith would be a top priority for the San Francisco 49ers?
Sure, some people may have thought that. With Jim Harbaugh coming to town, Smith finally had an opportunity to succeed. Optimism was gaining steam among some of the 49er faithful.
On the other hand, some people still may not even agree that Smith is a priority. After all, he only threw for 17 TDs this season and had a difficult time, overall, converting on third downs and in the red zone throughout the year.
Still, I believe that the 49ers have to re-sign Smith to continue improving on offense.
Smith’s pedestrian statistics are of little concern. The coaches asked him to manage games this year, and he did a terrific job of doing so. He completed over 60 percent of his passes and threw only five interceptions.
That touchdown dart he threw to Vernon Davis against the Saints to win the game was one of the best passes I’ve seen him make.
Admittedly, Smith isn’t going to be a Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Peyton Manning. Guys who can single-handedly take over games are extraordinarily hard to come by in this league.
However, No. 11 is a solid quarterback who has proven he can take his team just about as deep as a team can go. He is mobile, has a strong arm, and has earned the respect of his teammates.
Most importantly, Smith finally has a coach who developed an offensive system around him. With a superb offensive line, a feisty defense and a respected special teams unit, the 49ers should continue building momentum by keeping their starting quarterback in place.
If San Francisco can add a few more play-makers to Smith’s arsenal, he will continue to evolve in Coach Harbaugh’s offense and find even more success over the next several seasons.