San Francisco 49ers: One Win Doesn't Get Alex Smith Off the Hook

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer INovember 30, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 29: Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers drops back to pass during their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Candlestick Park on November 29, 2009 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

As apart of the San Francisco "faithful", watching the 49ers win on Sunday makes my day. Even though I may not be the biggest fan of their current quarterback Alex Smith, he did lead the team to victory. And like former 49er corner-back Toi Cook says during the 1994 Super Bowl video, "a W's a W, in the National Football League."

However, just because the 49er offense looked solidified against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday doesn't mean it will perform in the same manner week after week.

Alex Smith still has a lot to prove despite what some people may think. For example, Mark Purdy of the Mercury News glorifies Smith's play in his latest column.

Purdy starts his article out with the following:


"Apologies to Alex Smith. Really. Sincerely.

Last week in Green Bay, the 49ers quarterback was awful in the first half, threw a crucial interception in the second half and raised serious doubts (especially in this column space) about whether he could ever be an effective NFL starting quarterback.


Sunday afternoon at Candlestick Park, Smith reversed the equation. He reversed it so severely, some of us suffered whiplash. Smith had his best game as an NFL starter in a 20-3 victory over Jacksonville. He had zero interceptions, two touchdown passes and a sweet 96.8 passer rating."

If I'm reading this correctly, Purdy is changing his mind from doubting Smith ever being an effective NFL starting quarterback to claiming him to already be an effective NFL starter?

After just one game?

Smith did complete 65.8 percent of his passes (27-41) against the Jaguars for 232 yards and two touchdowns without being sacked or throwing a single interception.

But are we supposed to just forget about the quarterback who had thrown just 28 touchdowns against 38 interceptions and fumbled 21 times in 38 career games?

Furhtermore, that zero interception stat for Sunday's game is quite misleading. Two different drives should have ended in interceptions if it weren't for the porous Jacksonville secondary forgetting how to catch the football.

Plus there were numerous throws on Sunday that were just a tad-high or too far in front of his receivers.

And on one-play in particular during the first touchdown drive, Smith had Michael Crabtree and Josh Morgan both wide open on route to the end-zone and Smith attempted to fit the ball into a triple covered Vernon Davis.

Davis ended up taking a big hit from the Jacksonville safety and wasn't able to hang onto the ball. But don't fault the tight-end, he drew three defenders to him allowing his teammates to be wide open.

The ball should have been thrown to one of the two outside targets, not down the middle of the field.

There were two options on that play which were better targets than the 49er tight-end and it's not surprising why they were so wide open. Jacksonville is ranked 26th in the league defending the pass, allowing an average of 242.9 yards per game.

Therefore, despite not being sacked, barely even touched and attempting 41 passes, Smith threw for just 232 yards—a total that is less than Jaguars have averaged giving up this season.

In the second-half alone Smith was 9-12 passing for just 63 yards. Only five of those nine receptions gained yards. Four of them managed no gain or worse, two passes to Gore went for a loss, one to Crabtree for a loss and one to Delanie Walker for no gain.

Coming out of the locker-room the 49ers should have been able to put this game away. However, they managed just three points in the entire half, and held the ball for just 4:53 in the third quarter compared to 9:59 for Jacksonville.

The Jaguars out-gained the 49ers 183 to 90 in the final 30 minutes, as only a couple of unfortunate David Garrard fumbles and a missed 21-yard field-goal by Josh Scobee kept Jacksonville from getting back in the game.

Jacksonville's offense was actually moving the ball better the majority of the time. San Francisco's offense on the other hand stalled on two solid drives settling for field goals, and on five other drives had to punt the ball away. Their 20 points was slightly below their season average.

Take away one of the touchdown drives that should have ended in a interception and the 49ers' offensive "out-burst" that fans are raving about would have netted them just 13 points.

Many will say I'm simply taking the "glass half empty" approach opposed to the "glass half full" outlook, but going into a divisional game on the road next week, I'm simply holding back my optimism.

Smith had one solid game and looked good with the more spread out offense. But can we bank on this to continue? Playing in Seattle next week he will have to deal with the infamous "12th man," the nick-name of the incredibly loud Qwest Field.

Later on in the season Smith will have to play away at the Eagles, who own the tenth best pas defense in the league. Can we really take what we saw against Jacksonville and be confident it will continue?

The "faithful" is hopeful that Smith's impressive play from Sunday will continue but further evidence is needed before one can make a call to whether Smith truly is the quarterback of the future.

As for now, the jury is still out on one Alex Smith.


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