New head coach Jim Harbaugh has already said he expects Smith to come back and start the season for the 49ers.
Smith had a very up-and-down 2010 season, as he started the year 1-6. He then was sent to the bench in favor of Troy Smith, but returned as the starter later on in the season. Across 11 games, he threw for 2,370 yards with 14 TD's and 10 INT's. He had a completion percentage of 59.6, but he also fumbled the ball four times.
With a career completion percentage of 57.1, Smith has plenty of weapons around him in San Francisco.
He has arguably the NFL's best tight end in Vernon Davis. In 2009, Davis hauled in 13 TD's, tying the record for most by a tight end in a season. He is still searching for his first 1,000-yard season though.
The running game has been the strength of the 49ers since they drafted Alex Smith; Frank Gore has been as consistent as they come when healthy. Last year was the first year Gore didn't eclipse 1,000 yards rushing, which broke a four-season streak. He still managed 853 yards and three TD's in 11 games, while also catching 46 passes for 452 yards and two TD's.
I agree whole-heartedly that Alex Smith has run his course as the 49ers' starting quarterback. He has been provided with various opportunities, but has yet to take advantage.
Harbaugh seems to think Smith can win games for San Francisco though. The NFC West is not the strongest division, and the playoffs are on the 49ers' radar.
If Smith can come out and win football games, he would gain some support from the fan base. If he comes out and loses his first few starts, he will be booed uncontrollably.
The question still remains, is this the year for Alex Smith? All-in-all, Alex Smith should get it done. There are no more excuses for him.