San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Troy Smith: Is He Their Savior?

Tyler Ward@twardyyyAnalyst IDecember 2, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 29:  Quarterback Troy Smith #1 of the San Francisco 49ers watches from the sidelines during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on November 29, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The 49ers defeated the Cardinals 27-6.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The 49ers may have found their man and the weird thing's neither of the former No. 1 overall picks, Alex Smith or David Carr.

Instead, it's former Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, who has somewhat resurrected his career in the Golden State.

But let's rewind for a second...

Smith was a redshirt freshman in 2003, and he was not a quarterback, surprisingly. He was, in fact, a running back and a kick returner.

In his sophomore season in 2004, he was listed on the depth chart as the No. 2 quarterback behind starter Justin Zwick. Smith got lucky that season, as Zwick went down with an injury midway through the year.

So, Smith stepped in and won four of five games, including a victory over the Buckeyes arch-rival Michigan Wolverines. The Buckeyes made it to the Alamo Bowl, but Smith was suspended for the game after it was found out that he had accepted a measly $500 from a booster—kind of pathetic, huh?


Prior to the 2005 season, Smith was listed as the starting quarterback and he would stay there, barring some unforeseen incident.

With Smith as the starter, the Buckeyes only lost two games—only one coming with Smith as the actual starter. Their two losses included one to the eventual champion Texas Longhorns, in which Smith did not start. The second loss came to the Big Ten co-champion Penn State Nittany Lions.

However, Smith was still spectacular that season, as he concluded his junior campaign with 2,282 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He also finished the season with 136 carries for 611 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Ohio State advanced to the Fiesta Bowl, matching up against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Smith was eventually named the Offensive MVP, as the Buckeyes handled the Irish, 34-20.

Prior to the 2006 season, Smith was a preseason contender for the Heisman Trophy—he looked the part as the Buckeyes got their revenge on the Texas Longhorns with a 24-7 rout. Smith was exceptional completing 17-of-27 passes for 269 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Not only was Smith great against the Longhorns, but he was great the entire 2006 season. He finished the year with 2,507 yards and 30 touchdowns, compared to just five interceptions.

Smith won the Heisman Trophy, as he collected 86.7 percent of the first-place votes.

Following his senior season, Smith entered the NFL Draft. He didn't go as high as most people expected, as he was selected with the 174th overall pick by the Baltimore Ravens.

He saw a little bit of action in his rookie season, as he completed 40-for-76 passes, with 452 passing yards and two touchdowns.

The next two seasons, Smith played sparingly, completing only 8-of-13 passes for 106 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

After the 2009 season, Smith re-signed with the Ravens, but with the signing of Marc Bulger as the backup, Smith was released.

Two days after his release, Smith signed with the 49ers.

On October 27, the former Buckeye was named the starter, supplanting 2004 No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith.

The 49ers took on the Denver Broncos on October 31 in London—Smith ran and passed for a touchdown in their victory. He played exceedingly well in the second half, completing 8-of-10 passes for 159 yards.

He led the 49ers to three touchdown drives in the fourth quarter and the 49ers won the game 24-16.

Two weeks later, the 49ers took on Sam Bradford and the Rams, in which Smith had the best game of his career.

In their 23-20 overtime victory, Smith completed 17-of-28 passes for 356 yards and one touchdown, with no interceptions.

The following day, Smith was named the full-fledged starter for the struggling 49ers.

Despite a 21-0 waxing by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Smith still completed 16-of-31 passes for 148 yards and one interception, perhaps the worst start of his career.

The 49ers beat the Cardinals the following week, 27-6, but Smith still struggled, completing less than 50 percent of his passes. He only threw for 129 yards and an interception, but managed to sneak a touchdown in there as well.

At the time of Smith's first start with the 49ers, they were 1-6. Now, with Smith at the helm, the 49ers are 3-1 and back in the hunt for the NFC West title.

He may not put up gaudy numbers like Philip Rivers, but he has gotten the job done when his team needs him the most. And that's all that matters. As long as a team wins games, they're fine. It doesn't matter if they win by one point or by five touchdowns. A win is a win and with Smith behind center, the 49ers apparently have shots to win games.

Troy Smith has surprisingly out-performed Alex Smith and David Carr and it doesn't look like he'll be giving up the starting reins anytime soon—and rightfully so.

In Smith's four starts, he has completed 56-of-101 passes for 829 yards, along with three touchdowns and two interceptions (84.1 QB rating).

With a mobile quarterback like Smith, one can only expect numbers like that from him. Typically, mobile quarterbacks do not throw for mass amounts of yards, but they do keep their teams in games—and that's all the front office could ask for.

Not only has Smith almost saved the 49ers season, but at the rate they're going, he may also save head coach Mike Singletary's job.

The 49ers have caught a lot of flack this season because they play in the weakest division in football and most people expected them to completely dominate the division. They have struggled thus far, but now Smith has taken over and put them back within striking distance of the division leaders.

As of right now, Smith is the 49ers' unexpected savior. And I'm sure the 49er faithful are hoping he can keep up the pace.


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