After a full slate of NFL preseason games this past weekend, it is pretty obvious that the NFL season is quickly approaching! Isn’t that exciting? It is going to a great football season and a great fall here at TSD! We kicked off our NFL debates a couple of weeks ago, and we are continuing that trend today.
Which quarterback has the most to prove to players, coaches, fans, or in this case to Loyal Homer? A couple immediately came to mind, but there is one guy who stands out when considering that question – Alex Smith.
Most of you know Alex Smith’s background as a quarterback. He parlayed an outstanding season at Utah in Urban Meyer’s offense to become the first overall draft pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. Since then, it has been a disappointing career for the most part. He is certainly not a bust of Ryan Leaf proportions, but when you have thrown more interceptions than touchdowns, it is hard to say you are a “proven” quarterback in the league.
Injuries and seemingly a new offensive coordinator every year have arguably prevented Smith’s growth, but that is not to say he hasn’t been given a fair shot to succeed, given that he has battled journeymen like Shaun Hill and J.T. O’Sullivan for playing time. This year, however, the floor is completely his.
The San Francisco 49ers appear to be a trendy pick to win the NFC West, especially with the Arizona Cardinals taking a step or two back now Matt Leinart (rather than Kurt Warner) is under center. Whether or not the 49ers reach that goal of winning the division depends LARGELY on the play of Smith at quarterback.
Smith does have his share of supporters, who are adamant that he is the guy to take the 49ers to the next level. They point to the fact that tight end Vernon Davis is an up and coming star at the tight end position, and that he and Smith started to develop quite the rapport last season, which is certainly true. Smith played well during the last part of the 2009 season, and he ended up throwing 18 touchdowns and completed a career high 60.5% of his passes. He also had his first ever 300-yard passing game.
But for the first time since 2007, Smith enters the season as “The Guy”, as there is no position battle in training camp. He is firmly entrenched as the starter, with backup David Carr posing no serious threat to him. He has got to be able to produce on the field, though.
Head coach Mike Singletary is a perfectionist and had publicly said that he wants winners on his team (Right Vernon Davis?), and so Smith needs to keep building on the success he had during the latter part of last season. Otherwise, he is going to have the coaches, players, fans, and Loyal Homer on his case!