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San Francisco 49ers: How Quarterback Alex Smith Can Sharpen His Game

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San Francisco 49ers: How Quarterback Alex Smith Can Sharpen His Game
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

After eight years and one of the rockiest starts the league has ever seen for a former No. 1 overall quarterback, Alex Smith has finally asserted himself as a starter in the NFL—for the team that drafted him, no less.

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback had a career year in 2011 under rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh. In his best season as a 49er, Smith saw highs in virtually every statistical category except touchdowns (and interceptions). After ending a decade-long playoff drought, the team went 13-3 with Smith at the helm, and expectations are high going forward.

If Smith can improve and deliver in 2012, the 49ers will be Super Bowl Champions again. His progress, or lack thereof, could make or break San Francisco's chances this coming season. The odds are that he will continue to take steps forward in this new regime, and with that in mind, it will be interesting to see where he develops.

After reviewing Smith's entire 2011 game film, I've narrowed down some particular areas where Smith can improve. In the following slides, we'll break down where Alex Smith can take his game to another level.

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