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Alex Smith rebounded with a great game against the Arizona Cardinals
Alex Smith played two poor games in a row, after getting the 49ers off to a great start early in the season. Smith and the entire 49er offense was horrible in the loss to the New York Giants. Then, against the Seattle Seahawks, he again was not very good.
Smith rebounded with a record-breaking performance in the national spotlight that is Monday Night Football. He went 18-of-19, for a 94.7 completion percentage, the highest for any quarterback who threw at least 15 passes in a game.
For the season, Smith has completed 145 of his 209 attempts, a 69.4 completion rate. Smith has thrown for 1,659 yards, an average of 207.4 yards per game. Smith also has 12 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Three of Smith's interceptions came in a losing effort against the New York Giants, when Smith was woefully off his game. This coincided with offensive coordinator Greg Roman inserting backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick into the game on several occasions.
The continual in and out approach threw the entire 49er offense out of rhythm and the result was the lowest scoring output of the year, with only three points. With Kaepernick also playing in the Seattle game, Smith also seemed to press and try to force the action. The result was a season-low of 140 yards passing from Smith.
I don't want to absolve Smith of any blame just because Roman played Kaepernick; however, Smith does need to be in control of any situation he's faced with. Nevertheless, defenses have caught on to Kaepernick's offensive packages, so his time in the game may be diminished as the season wears on.
Smith has excellent mastery of the offense and his ability to change the play at the line of scrimmage has resulted in several good plays for the 49ers. Smith has also matured as a leader, both on and off the field.
There is still room for improvement with Smith, especially when it comes to being able to throw with consistent accuracy and also finding his receivers down the field more. Smith's tendency is to throw the safer check-down pass, rather than try to make the big play.
When you have Randy Moss and Vernon Davis on your team, it would be worth the gamble to throw the deep ball periodically. If nothing else, this keeps the defense honest and opens up those underneath routes where Smith is much more comfortable.
As for Colin Kaepernick, he still has a long way to go before he has a strong command of the complex 49er offense. He can make big plays, but is also prone to mistakes. Now that the surprise element of Kaepernick has worn off, defenses have been able to play much better against that WildKap formation.
Almost all of Kaepernick's successful plays come about because of his athleticism. This is great when it works, but also risky because he won't always be able to beat opposing defenses with his strong arm or quick feet.
At this point in their respective careers, Smith gives the 49ers the best chance to win.
Quarterbacks Grade: B