49er Alex Smith's Elite Status, by the New Numbers

Tony SarnoffContributor IISeptember 20, 2012

Alex Smith: 20/31in Week 2
Alex Smith: 20/31in Week 2Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Sure, Alex Smith has turned the corner.  We all said he would.  We all believed it was just a matter of time.  Nobody was ever yelling bloody murder.   Why, there was never any corner to turn.  It was all just a normal progression from first-round pick to “elite.”  Seven years feels like an hour.

And now it’s like old times.  We’ve crossed over into the land of milk and expectation.  Suddenly, the feeling is if this team doesn’t win the Super Bowl this year, it’s because the world got hit by a meteorite, or because the leather in footballs was suddenly known to cause chronic wasting disease in humans, or because the replacement refs were in a conspiracy. 

So, how good is Alex Smith these days?  He’s good enough that media analysts don’t constantly bring up the past.  The interest is in what he’s doing now, how he’s going to get in the end zone now.  It’s that expectation again; he will succeed.  We may not know how but we know he will.

And there are new statistics to make the case.  Nuances but still interesting.

Profootballfocus (PFF) has remastered their premium stats to offer a refined sense of quarterback accuracy. So they take out what doesn’t reflect accuracy: the batted ball, the spiked ball, the ball thrown as you’re hit, the ball thrown away to avoid a sack. And then they add back drops to determine an “adjusted completion percentage.” Which makes sense: if the ball lands between the numbers or in the ear hole in your lid, then give the guy a break.


So in Week 2, against the Lions, Smith dropped back 35 times, attempted to throw 31 times and had 20 completions.  He threw one ball away, one was batted away and five were dropped. Some might claim seven drops. According to PFF, his “adjusted completion percentage” was 86.2, which was second only to Aaron Rodgers, with 87.1.  Smith was tied with Ben Roethlisberger and Michael Vick, and marginally ahead of Drew Brees.

Smith’s unrefined, ordinary completion percentage in Week 2 was 64.5. 

And what about his overall performance rating in the new season?  PFF gives him a 105.13 through the first two weeks, third behind Robert Griffin III and Matt Ryan.

But the point is simply that Alex Smith does run with the elite and he is as good as we all said he was. He will take us to the promised land.  We never doubted.  After all, we’re the "49er Faithful."