A Make-Or-Break Season For Mr. Smith

Joseph Hawkes-BeamonContributor IMay 19, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO - DECEMBER 14:  Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers throws the ball against the Arizona Cardinals in the second half at Candlestick Park on December 14, 2009 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The upcoming 2010 NFL season for Alex Smith will be an important one.

Smith is going into this season with high expectations, since being named the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. But honestly, this is just not an important season for Smith, it is a make-or-break season for No. 11.

This needs to be the year that Smith finally puts it all together, and prove that he was worth being drafted No. 1 overall by the 49ers back in 2005 out of the University of Utah.This is year five of the Alex Smith Project with the 49ers, so something has to give. 

Its got to, right?

Aaron Rodgers who was in the same draft class with Smith (24th overall) by the Green Bay Packers, was the other hyped up quarterback in that draft. Not only has Rodgers turned into a franchise quarterback for the Packers, but he's turned the Pack Attack into perennial Super Bowl contender while posting consecutive 4,000-yard passing seasons.

To his credit, Rodgers got a chance to sit behind and learn from Brett Favre, while Smith had to sit behind and learn from Tim Rattay. Ouch!

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Smith, who posted respectable numbers (60.5 comp pct., 2,350 yds., 18 TDs, 12 INTs in 11 games last season), will finally go into a new season with the same offensive coordinator in Jimmy Raye.Throughout most of his 49er tenure, Smith has had to learn a different offense each year, which has only impeded his growth process into an elite NFL quarterback. Smith has only started a full season once, back in 2006.

Listen, the 49ers can win the watered down NFC West for the first time since 2002. It will all be dependent on whether or not Smith is ready to take charge of the team.

With the losses of key players, most notably Kurt Warner (retirement) and Anquan Boldin (via trade), the back-to-back NFC West champion Arizona Cardinals are in a rebuilding year. 

The St. Louis Rams are no longer the "Greatest Show on Turf."

Even with this year's No. 1 golden boy Sam Bradford  not expected to start the season under center, and monster running back Steven Jackson coming off back surgery, the Rams are still going to reside in the NFC West basement.

The Seattle Seahawks? Well...the Seahawks are an enigma.

How healthy is the 34-year-old quarterback Matt Hasselbeck? Is Pete Carroll ready to lead grown men into battle on Game Day, instead of a group of underclassmen again? Too many question marks on this team.

With important offensive weapons in place like running back Frank Gore, tight end Vernon Davis, and wide receiver Michael Crabtree, a rebuilt offensive line (the 49ers are banking heavily on the drafting of Rutgers offensive tackle Anthony Davis and Idaho's offensive guard Mike Iupati), Smith could be primed for a breakout season.

The only question remains: is this the year that the Alex Smith Project finally pays off? The 49ers organization and fans have waited long enough. Time to see results.

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