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Life With Alex May Never Be The Same - By Bryan Hersh Dec 23 2006

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I have been hard on Alex Smith, particularly as of late. I have been especially critical of his inability to drive the team long distances, to put the ball in the endzone from the redzone, and to put the team on his shoulders are carry it to victory. These are traits that I believe are central to whoever the team’s quarterback of the future, or rather quarterback of the present must posses. With only two games left in Alex Smith’s second season it is now just to begin to draw some conclusions as to whether or not he should be at the helm of the 49ers for years to come.

With quarterback ratings ranging from below 50 to above 90 this season, Smith has been inconsistent at best. Even in arguably his best performance, the team’s second win over Seattle, Smith had a brutal start to the game. It was not until the second half that he began to light it up. Riddled with inconsistency it has been hard to come to any conclusion about him. At times, there were flashes of brilliance, at times he looked mediocre, and at times he looked about as good as Rick Mirer.

In the past weeks I have suggested that the team consider drafting another quarterback to compete with Smith for the starting spot. Similar to the Drew Brees situation in San Diego. I argued that a fire needed to be lit to get Smith to that next level. I am still not opposed to this idea despite Smith coming off his best game. I believe that the Seahawks game was a statement game for Smith. One where he finally said “enough of this, I am here to make this team win, to take it to victory, not to simply guide it through a game”. It is this mentality that is needed in the 49ers quarterback, but I still worry that the flame we all saw last week will die out, or that his inconsistency will prevent him from harnessing this ability on a week to week basis.

With two games left to play, I am looking for consistent high level play from Smith. I want him to manage the game well, as he has so many times this season, but I also want him to take calculated risks and elevate the play of those around him, as he did in the second quarter against the Seahawks. I want that to happen consistently, and then, playoffs or not, at least we fans could be confident in the teams quarterback for the future during the long off-season.

Smith has a chance in the remainder of the season to completely silence his doubters, and to win the adoration of the entire Bay Area. No one is expecting him to turn in Joe Montana or Steve Young over night. And with playoffs still a possibility, there is pressure to win. This is not like “garbage time” games. Smith can win and win in pressured filled scenarios, and in the process he can build the foundation that will allow the 49ers to be a winning team in the future. But it is he who has to do. It is he that must take the team to victory, not the reverse. Otherwise there will be as much doubt as ever at the team’s quarterback position.

 
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