NFL 2011: Why Alex Smith Will Have a Great Season for the 49ers

Dan CondieContributor IIIAugust 6, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO - DECEMBER 12:    Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers passes against the Seattle Seahawks during an NFL game at Candlestick Park on December 12, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Why will Alex Smith finally have his breakout season in 2011?

Because if he doesn't, there won't be a 2012 for the 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick.

While some teams in the NFC West, shaky in the quarterback department, made mad dashes to replace their guys (Arizona by addition and Seattle by subtraction), the San Francisco 49ers re-signed their starting QB Alex Smith to a one-year, $5 million deal.

Every season, Smith loses more supporters and it's now to the point where the general consensus is that if Alex doesn't impress this year, he's done for good, in San Fran at least.

It's been a long road for Smith since coming out of the University of Utah in 2005. Between the changes at head coach from Mike Nolan, to Mike Singletary, to new current head coach Jim Harbaugh, Smith has had less than a fair shake as far as steady coaching ground goes (especially with the array of offensive coordinators he's had to adjust to).

Being an avid follower of the University of Utah during their 2004-05 undefeated season with Alex Smith at QB and Urban Meyer at the helm as head coach, I am biased toward the pro-Smith view of things.

I know the guy is an outstanding talent and can make all the throws, however, the situation he plays in contributes a lot to his success. In Utah, he had an offensive line that kept the pressure off of him.

A good offensive line is not something Smith has had in San Francisco until they recently used their two first round picks on offensive linemen (Anthony Davis 11th overall, Mike Iupati 17th overall). 

You have to figure that those two additions wouldn't make a big difference until maybe a couple years in, and it seems the Niners front office is still just as convinced that Smith can turn on the consistency switch, or at least usher in the Colin Kaepernick era.

With the recent signing of Braylon Edwards, the 49ers seem interested in continuing to surround Smith with weapons as well as protection.

Surely, the front office in San Fran must feel that they have done all they can do to put Smith in a position to win and I agree. 

Smith now has a great opportunity in front of him. It's rare nowadays where the "what have you done for me lately?" mindset is prevalent, for a QB is given this many chances to prove himself. No one wants to prove himself to Niner nation and coach Harbaugh more than Alex Smith does right now.

Jim Harbaugh is very complimentary of Smith and seems to have faith in his ability to play consistently. Harbaugh is a proven head coach with experience in talented quarterbacks, having coached Andrew Luck at Stanford last year.

The 49ers are sending a clear message with the Alex smith deal. That message is that they still believe in Smith and are practically begging him to break out it seems.

So, why will Alex Smith have a break out year in 2011? He has to.