It seems as though San Francisco 49ers fans have been down this road before. The future of their franchise is once again riding on the right shoulder of Alex Smith.
After a two-year hiatus, Smith is once again the starting quarterback in San Francisco and looks like a completely different player. The arm strength is back, a newfound confidence is there and he is looking like he may not be the complete bust that so many “experts” were so quick to label him.
Between shoulder surgeries and conflicts with the organization, the road back for Smith has been anything but ordinary.
While Smith's journey has been particularly rocky, it may have been just what he needed to become the quarterback the 49ers thought they got with the first pick in the 2005 draft.
San Francisco was not having an awful year when Smith supplanted Shaun Hill as the starter. Hill has gotten the franchise back to respectability with a solid 2008 season followed by a 3-2 start to 2009.
Hill was managing the games and trying to give his team a chance to win every week. He was the consummate professional and should be thanked for his contributions.
With all that being said, there should not be a doubt in anyone's mind that Mike Singletary made the right decision to make Smith his signal caller. No team can reach its full potential with a quarterback who is simply trying not to lose the game for his team. Elite teams need a quarterback that can go out and win the game, and the coaching staff hopes Smith can do just that.
With all the offensive weapons coming back, the timing couldn't of been any better to make the change.
All-Pro running back Frank Gore has returned to the lineup from an ankle sprain, putting the ground game at full strength. An effective running game will open up the field for Smith and create holes in the middle of the field for play action passes.
Roaming the center of the field will be emerging tight end Vernon Davis, with whom Smith connected for three touchdowns in the second half of the Houston Texans game on October 25. With a 40-yard dash time of 4.38, unheard of at his position, Davis is one of the most physically gifted athletes in football.
Smith will be especially pleased that San Francisco was finally able to sign first-round draft pick Michael Crabtree. Smith has already formed a special bond with Crabtree, as he was the only quarterback to stay behind during the bye week to help Crabtree get acclimated to the playbook by throwing him passes.
With all the stars aligning, the rest of this season has suddenly become very promising in San Francisco. The future looks even brighter with a young, tough-nosed defense and an offense that is suddenly infused with so much young talent.
What Alex Smith has been through will make it even sweeter for him if he can take advantage of this second chance and lead the 49ers to the playoffs. The only people who will enjoy it more would be the San Francisco Faithful that have been dying for this once proud franchise to get back on the NFL map.