Draft bust? Far from it.
People, fans, and professional analysts were quick to throw Alex Smith under the bus prior to last season. For whatever reason, I dont know. All I know is this writer never gave up on first pick of the 2005 NFL Draft.
It's been a roller coaster ride for Smith ever since he got drafted.
He was drafted on to a team that had no true identity at the time with no veteran leadership.
His best season prior to last season was in 2006, his second year in the league, when the famous Norv Turner was his offensive coordinator.
Smith improved in that year by throwing as many touchdowns as interceptions. He threw for 16 TDs, 16 interceptions, 2,890 yards and a 74.8 quarterback rating, all improvements over his rookie year, and all well above what would normally be expected of a 22-year-old-quarterback.
Smith also became the first 49ers quarterback in club history to take every snap from center over the course of a season in 2006.
All of that was forgot about though in 2007, Norv Turner took the Head Coaching job for the San Diego Chargers, leaving Smith with his third different offensive coordinator in as many years.
Smith didn't play the second half of the 2007 season due to his shoulder injury. In 2008 the 49ers hired Mike Martz as their offensive coordinator, Smith's fourth offense to learn in his fourth season. In the preseason of the 2008 season, Smith's shoulder injury persisted and he lost the starting job to J.T. O'Sullivan who eventually lost his role to Shaun Hill.
Smith had to have surgery on a broken bone in his right shoulder forcing him to miss the entire 2008 season. Not to mention, the 49ers fired head coach Mike Nolan half way through the 2008 season and naming Mike Singletary as interim head coach.
Going into last season Mike Martz was fired by Singletary and Jimmy Raye was named the new OC for the 49ers. Smith entered the 2009 season as the backup to Hill and having to learn a new system under his fifth offensive coordinator.
After the 49ers started the 2009 season 3-1, Hill started to struggle. In a Week Seven game against the Houston Texans, Smith replaced him in the third quarter, after Hill had performed poorly in a 21-0 first half deficit. Smith led the team back with three touchdown passes, all to tight end Vernon Davis, but fell short, losing 24-21. Singletary named Smith as the 49ers starting quarterback the next day.
Smith threw for 232 yards, two touchdown passes while posting a 96.8 passer rating in a 20-3 win over visiting Jacksonville in Week 12.
In a Week 13 matchup against the NFC West division rival Seattle Seahawks, he recorded the first 300-yard passing game of his career, completing 27-of-45 throws with two touchdown passes.
In week 14, the 49ers were at home in a Monday Night Football showdown with defending NFC Champions and rivals the Arizona Cardinals. Smith threw two touchdown passes, one to Davis and a 35-yard strike to Crabtree in route to a 24-9 victory.
Smith finished the 2009 season going 5-4. He went 225-372, for 2,350 yards with 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
As we get closer to the 2010 season, Smith's confidence is at an all-time high. He knows he is entering the season as the starter. He finally has a second-year coordinator.
He is surrounded by a plethora of offensive weapons, most importantly a young go-to receiver in Michael Crabtree and a big, strong, fast Pro Bowl tight end in Vernon Davis. And the 49ers addressed their offensive line problems by drafting two big linemen in the first round, Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati.
The 49ers offense finally has an identity and a direction of where they want to be.
Look for Smith and the 49ers offense to have a breakout season.