Alex Smith rode the wave of Urban Meyer's magical season at Utah. Let's face it—we were all bamboozled by what this kid accomplished as a Ute.
In his senior year, he tallied 2,952 yards passing and 631 yards rushing. He made the Mountain West look silly all season, as the Utes rode his arm and his legs to a 12-0 record in 2004, as well as a "stunning" defeat over the Pittsburgh Panthers, 35-7.
Well, that was then and this is now.
Fact of the matter is, Pitt should never have been in the Fiesta Bowl; they were a subpar 7-3 team going into that game and proved their massive inferiority by laying that horrendous egg against the Utes.
The Big East is largely a fraud, and any attempt to prove otherwise is futile.
That said, Pitt was likely the best that conference had to offer at that time, but they, for the most part, have ranged between average and awful.
Need proof? Here it is: In the five years since that "stunning" BCS defeat, the Panthers have managed only one eight-plus-win season (2008) and zero BCS bowl appearances.
So, how "stunning" a victory was that Utah win, really?
After that, Smith took his intelligent mind and small hands to the NFL Draft, where the poor San Francisco 49ers saw fit to make him their first overall pick.
Who can blame them, really? Everyone drank the Alex Smith/Urban Meyer Kool-Aid—they bought into the idea that this kid was a great quarterback with a ton of potential to be the next big thing in the Bay.
All they have gotten for their troubles is a guy who can't seem to stay healthy and, when he is, can't seem to be consistent as a passer.
His short stint with the Niners thus far reads like a horror story: 11 wins, 19 losses, 31 interceptions, and no playoff appearances.
The closest the Niners have come to seeing a playoff game is a 7-9 season in 2006—hardly a ringing endorsement for what a healthy Alex Smith can do.
Of course, the apologists have reasons for his mediocrity. Multiple coordinators, multiple coaches, and multiple systems didn't help his growth—after all, how can a guy be good if he doesn't ever get comfortable with the playbook? Right?
No one denies the fact that he's been challenged by the Niners and their revolving door of leadership, coaches, and players.
However, when you get on the field, playbook knowledge or not, you have to limit your mistakes. Smith simply doesn't know how to do that. He's a liability as a passer—plain and simple.
No matter your system, interceptions are interceptions. Smith has been awful when the line was good and horrific when it was bad. He's just not good enough to start...anywhere. Stop fooling yourself if you truly think otherwise.
The best excuse out there comes when comparing Smith to Aaron Rodgers—Rodgers was drafted late in the first round, but in the same draft as Smith.
People like to say that if Smith had been given the same circumstances as Rodgers had in Green Bay (stable coaching, stable management, good receivers, legendary mentor, etc.), then he would be the same success as Rodgers is right now—by the same logic, Rodgers would be the bust now.
To that there is only one response: "If ands and buts were candy and nuts, then every day would be Christmas."
Give me a break.
The fact is this, good quarterbacks thrive and make it work, no matter where they are or what hand they are dealt. Period.
For example, Jeff Garcia has been solid no matter where he's been; he changed teams thrice from 2005-07. His record was 19-11, with 6,461 yards and 35 touchdowns against 12 interceptions.
Does that not count?
Guess since the teams Garcia played for were actually good (Tampa Bay and Philadelphia), that could make this an unfair comparison, right? Well, that's fair enough.
So, let's stay in-house then. Shaun Hill has been in San Francisco for the last two years. He has seen the same coaching carousel as Smith but has managed to play well in spite of it all—so, again, what's Smith's excuse?
There's really no reason for the Niners to continue looking for Smith to become the uber quarterback who led the Utes to their storied 12-0 season. That player left the building the minute the Fiesta Bowl trophy was laid to rest in Salt Lake City.
This is the reality: Alex Smith is a bust.
Anything else is irrelevant.
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