Most quarterbacks in the NFL don’t get second chances let alone a third chance to redeem themselves as a starting quarterback in the NFL. The bust label has been applied to many drafted quarterbacks with most riding the bench on various teams throughout their career or they leave football all together. This year we have seen Vince Young and Alex Smith get a second chance to be a starting quarterback with their teams in desperation.
Alex Smith has had his ups and downs in his career and with the 49ers staying in the hunt for a playoff spot he has an opportunity to make the best of a rare second chance. Smith finished his rookie season in 2005 starting the last nine games of the season with one touchdown and 11 interceptions. Norv Turner was hired as offensive coordinator in 2006 and Smith slightly improved throwing 16 touchdowns with 16 interceptions. He became the first Niner QB to take every snap under center in a season. The Chargers hired away Turner the following season and replaced by quarterback coach Jim Hostler. Hostler had no prior play calling experience and Smith’s progress stalled. It marked the beginning of a downward fall for Smith as he separated his right shoulder in week 4 of 2007. He would miss the next three weeks and come back for three games in which he was ineffective only to sit out the rest of the season on injured reserve because of his shoulder. During this period Mike Nolan questioned Smith’s toughness by saying his shoulder injury was not as bad as being perceived. The criticism took a toll on Smith’s confidence. In 2008 he competed for the starting job but lost it to J.T. O’Sullivan and then before the start of the season he broke his right shoulder blade. I labeled Smith a bust at that point as he would be sitting out the whole season and lost the starting job even if he was healthy.
Smith looked like he was not going to get a second chance to be a starter not only with the 49ers but with any other NFL team but he restructured his contract this off-season and took a significant pay cut to remain with the 49ers. We know how the story goes up until now and Smith is ready to put himself back into the starting quarterback role for good this time but only if he can lead the 49ers back to the playoffs. It will be an uphill battle for Smith and the 49ers because they will probably need a 4-1 record down the stretch to clinch a playoff spot. Either way Smith will be counted on to lead the 49ers to wins as the offensive playbook has been adapted to his skills and abilities. This time he has no excuses because of the spread formation and the talented receivers around him. This is his chance to make a name for himself and disprove the bust label because a third chance will likely not come.
Topics: 2009 Free Agency, 49ers, 49ers 2009 Season, 49ers 2009 Training Camp, 49ers Offensive Coordinator, 49ers QB, 49ers Quarterback, Alex Smith, Alex Smith's Last Chance, Frank Gore, Jim Hostler, Jimmy Raye, Michael Crabtree, Mike Martz, Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary, San Francisco 49ers, Shaun Hill, Vernon Davis