Time for another round of "Expectations vs. Reality"—our most (and least) favorite game.
Today's question: How will Alex Smith perform in 2012?
While we wait for reality to reveal the actual answer, expectations continue to pile up.
Smith has pretty much seen it all during his seven-year NFL career, all with the San Francisco 49ers: seven different coordinators with seven different schemes, three head coaches, multiple injuries, multiple demotions, a blizzard of boos and even a little success.
Last season, his first with coach Jim Harbaugh, Smith posted career highs in yards (3,144), completion percentage (61.3) and quarterback rating (90.7) en route to the NFC Championship. There, he saw the door to a Super Bowl—the franchise's first since 1994—open and close right in front of him.
Then, the whole Peyton Manning fling-thing happened this offseason.
Yup, he really has seen a lot. But he's back to solidify his status as the clear starter. Again.
Sure, Smith is flawed and a not-quite-finished product. He doesn't flex his knee enough during his stride and isn't balanced enough when dropping back to throw, but he's working hard to make the proper adjustments and is still just 28 years of age—just now entering his prime years of football.
So again, I ask: How will Alex Smith perform in 2012?
Here's my take. With the addition of several playmakers (Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James) and time to digest the entire playbook—remember, this is one smart dude—Smith and the 49ers offense will air it out more this season. I expect an increase in passing yards, touchdowns and, consequently, interceptions. And I expect the journey far, far away from Bustville to continue.
However, only time will tell if said journey lands in New Orleans—site of Super Bowl XLVII.
What are your expectations?