Alex Smith led the San Fransisco 49ers to victory against the New York Giants without the services of the team's star running back, Frank Gore. He made a statement in the game: he can lead the team without Frank Gore.
Before anyone gets too excited about defending the virtues of Frank Gore, let me say that I hope he can be a force to be reckoned with in the NFC West for at least three more seasons. I love the guy. I love his heart, I love his vision and I love his explosion through the hole. I love his mentality, the thing that makes him decide that, instead of going out of bounds, he will try and run you over.
OK, back to the task at hand.
Alex Smith turned "game manager" on its head against the high octane New York defense, one of the better units in the NFL. Greg Roman saw something on tape that the team could exploit, and Smith executed the game plan to perfection.
Alex Smith shows he is developing a strong grasp on understanding what his role is as a quarterback in the West Coast offense. He is oftentimes throwing to a spot before his receivers have even made their breaks. He is also consistently progressing through his reads to the third and fourth option. He looks comfortable.
What this means to the rest of the league is a breathtaking proposition for any 49ers fan: the 49ers can beat you in all phases of the game.
Already possessing one of the top special teams units and the NFL's best defense, the 49ers can also pummel you into submission with Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Bruce Miller and their tremendous offensive line. Add to that an ability to throw the ball at will, and you have a recipe for success.
It's clear to me that head coach Jim Harbaugh has gotten through to Alex Smith. Early on in the season after Alex Smith had thrown a particularly bad interception, Harbaugh said that he and Alex needed to understand what Alex was seeing out on the field. He said it was about the eyes.
I'd say the eyes are dialed in. Alex Smith is confident that what he sees is really what the defenses are doing, and the results speak for themselves.