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49ers must minimize the number of times Alex Smith runs for his life.
The 49ers O-line must improve its overall protection of Alex Smith throughout the entire game.
This week, San Francisco faces a Tampa Bay team that is 21st against the pass. In their win against the Colts, the Buccaneers gave up 281 yards to a Peyton Manning-less team. This bodes well for a Niners team that effectively completed passes against the star-studded backfield of Philadelphia.
Alex Smith's second half performance in Philly put on display shades of a much improved quarterback, but only when he was given some seconds of protection. Smith's capacity to consider his options before making a throw will be the make or break characteristic of San Francisco's success this season.
We can see, week-to-week, that Jim Harbaugh is slowly letting off the reins on Smith. With each successive game, Alex Smith has thrown more than the last, and has managed to throw an interception only once.
If the offensive line can provide Alex Smith enough time to find one of their many receiving weapons (Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan or Ted Ginn Jr.), it will position itself in a much more favorable path towards a victory against the Bucs.