At 49ers practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, quarterback Alex Smith tested his middle finger on his throwing hand he hurt in the shellacking of the Bills. Smith fully participated at practice the last two days without a splint or other support on his middle finger. On his final throw in the game against the Bills last Sunday is when he injured his finger. Smith thinks the injury will heal as he uses it more. After practice Smith said,
It’s doing fine. The more you move it around, keep it going, it’ll get better as the week goes on.
Smith has 26 consecutive starts without throwing more than one interception in a game. The streak is the longest in Niners history and is tied for the third-longest streak in NFL history with former Giants QB Jeff Hostetler. His streak helped the 49ers to post 79 points in the last two games after their only loss of the season against the Vikings. This season the former No. 1 draft pick has proven to be an important part of the 49ers offense with the NFL’s best passer rating (108.7) and leading the team to be the first in NFL history with over 300 yards passing and 300 yards rushing in the same game. In the rout over the Bills, Smith posted an almost perfect quarterback rating of 156.2, completing 18 of 24 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns.
Fear not Niners fans, should Smith not be able to start or have to leave the game because of his hurt finger, Colin Kaepernick is ready to go. Kaepernick has a fire inside and exudes confidence which is key for a young quarterback to start their first game of their career or to come off the bench during the game. He has played a lot over the past two games, both running and throwing effectively, and will be ready if his number is called. He has the weapons and one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.
Smith is still the best option for the 49ers against the Giants on Sunday. The Giants defense may recognize the players on the 49ers offense, but they have been upgraded and are playing completely different than the offense they faced in the NFC Championship. Maybe this is why Tom Coughlin is complaining about the Giants not receiving respect and ‘nobody gives us a chance to win’ versus the 49ers. When asked how he knows this and why no one gives the Giants a chance he said,
I just sense it. I’m hoping that way…I’m not going there. I’m sorry. I don’t have an answer for that. Why do I think they feel that way? Probably because they think the other team is playing very well.
One reason for New York not receiving respect is their defense has suffered through injuries this season with five starters listed as questionable for Sunday’s game and one starter on injured reserve. The 49ers offense is rolling along as they continue to master Greg Roman’s offense and introduce new schemes like using Kaepernick during the game at quarterback. Another important factor for the Niners offense is the starters have remained healthy all season. Combing all of this with the way San Francisco has won the last two games and the play of Smith at QB is why the 49ers are the favorite to win over the Super Bowl defending champs this weekend.
Since the 49ers loss nine months to the Giants, Smith has upgraded his level of play over last season. This time around against the Giants the focus of the 49ers offense is not can Smith be more than just a game-manager, but instead is focused on the health of his middle finger. What a difference nine moths makes for Smith and the passing offense.