So Alex Smith once again looks poised to be the 49ers starting quarterback. Once again he is receiving rave reviews from his teammates. Vernon Davis said in an interview June 28th with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area:
“He’s more of a leader than he’s ever been at this point,” Davis said. “I’ve never seen Alex like this, ‘taking charge’ is what I call it. It’s Alex taking charge. He’s in the classroom walking us through everything, talking about all the plays. He’s taking all the snaps. And he’s really being a leader out there. That’s what Alex should’ve been doing. But it takes time for some guys to get to where you need to be.”
That many of the 49ers’ offensive players came to Smith’s workout sessions is a testament to Smith’s hard work and leadership.
“He’ll send out a mass text and tell us where he wants us, what time,” Davis said. “I’ve never seen Alex like this. He really cares about his career, and he knows he’s on his last straw, so he has to be exact and precise.”
I have to give credit where credit is due; Smith has really taken ownership of the new playbook and seems determined to revive his career. Smith does acknowledge there is still a lot of work to be done with the new playbook; he said the playbook provides them with terminology, formations and motions, but the fine details and endless variables aren’t spelled out.
In Jim Harbaugh, Smith will have the right man teaching him once the lockout is over. The question all 49er fans are asking is if this is for real. Is this for real? Maybe, he does look the part. Maybe Smith is a late bloomer and will be the great quarterback 49ers fans hoped he’d be like Jeff Garcia and Steve Young before him. The problem with all this is the fact that we have seen this before. Last season Smith drew rave reviews from the coaching staff and players and we all know how that turned out. The same can be said in the preseason of 2007 before that year became a disaster. Both of those instances shared the inept coaching which has plagued the 49ers for so many years since Steve Mariucci was released, but all the blame should not fall on the coaching alone.
Smith has a career completion percentage of 57.1 and has averaged 60 the last two seasons. There is talent there, but Smith also had the tendency for making the huge mistake during crunch time costing the 49ers the game. A key fourth quarter interception or fumble seemed to frequently derail Smith and the 49ers. The old cliché of “he played just well enough to lose”, which also applied to Steve DeBerg and Tim Rattay, was appropriate when analyzing Smith’s overall progress.
His chances for success in San Francisco seem very limited with the addition of Colin Kaepernick, who many say has a greater skill set than Smith and is itching to take his job. Recently Harbaugh came out and said there will be a competition for the starting job.
This will no doubt be one of the most intriguing training camps the 49ers have held in a long time. I, for one, am hoping to see strong outings from both quarterbacks. Regardless of who starts, 49ers fans just want to see their team compete and make the playoffs again; nine years is too long to wait.