2008: A Year To Forget For Smith
August 2008: With Nolan and Smith’s relationship strained, and the quarterback coming off shoulder surgery, he had to compete in training camp for the starting job. Smith would compete with quarterbacks Shaun Hill and J.T. O’Sullivan (I never thought I would type his name ever again) for the starting job. Smith was the second-string QB for the first two preseason games.
August 21, 2008: Nolan named O’Sullivan the starting QB for the start of the season, with Smith as the second-string QB. O’Sullivan was mostly named the starting QB because he was more familiar with new offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s system, but partially because of the bad relationship between Nolan and Smith.
September 10, 2008: Three days after the season opener, Smith was placed on injured reserve after his doctor confirmed a broken bone in his shoulder. At the time, it was reported a wire left in his shoulder from his previous surgery had sawed through the bone.
October 20, 2008: Mike Nolan is fired.
December 29, 2008: Mike Singletary is officially named the 49ers next head coach.
Final stats for 2008: Zero starts, zero everything.
2009: New Head Coach, Same Problems
March 10, 2009: Smith restructured his contract with the 49ers, taking a big pay cut to remain in San Francisco. Smith would have to compete with Shaun Hill for the starting job and the 49ers would have their fifth offensive coordinator in five years.
August 2009: Whether it was a lack of confidence by Singletary in Smith, or it was Hill actually winning the starting role, Smith would start the season as a backup for the second season in a row.
October 25, 2009: With the 49ers down 21-0 to the Texans at halftime, Singletary inserted Smith at quarterback to relieve Hill at quarterback who was playing terrible. Smith tied the game with three touchdown passes to Vernon Davis, but the team went down in defeat, 24-21. The next day, Smith was named the starting quarterback.
December 6, 2009: Smith throws for his first 300-yard game of his career in a 20-17 loss to the Seahawks. He threw for a total of 310 passing yards, two touchdowns and had a 95.6 QB rating.
2010: Season Of The Quarterback Carousel
August 2010: For the first time in his NFL career, Smith had the same offensive coordinator, Jimmy Raye II, from the previous season. He was named the starting quarterback in the preseason.
September 8, 2010: Smith was named as one of the team’s captains.
September 27, 2010: Despite retaining the same offensive coordinator, Smith did not flourish in the system. After the third game of the season, which the 49ers loss 31-10 to the Chiefs, Raye was fired as offensive coordinator and was replaced by quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson. Smith entered Week four of the season with his sixth offensive coordinator in six seasons.
October 10, 2010: San Francisco started the season on a four game losing streak and by the time the Eagles came to town for a showdown on Sunday Night Football, the 49ers Faithful had enough. In the game, Smith was booed at home on national TV and the crowd chanted “We want Carr”, as in backup QB David Carr. Down 24-10, Smith would mount a comeback with two fourth quarter touchdown passes, but fell short. San Francisco would go on to lose, 27-24, thanks in part to a late fourth quarter INT thrown by Smith. In the loss, Smith throw for his 300-yard passing game in his career.
October 24, 2010: Déjà vu. In Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers, Smith reinjured his shoulder and would miss the next five games. By the end of the game, David Carr was under center and the 49ers had a dismal 1-6 record.
November 15, 2010: Despite being healthy enough to play, Smith was once again demoted to backup duties. Singletary decided to stick with Troy Smith at quarterback who started the season as the third-string QB and only had 14 games of experience before the season started. Troy Smith had the 49ers on a two game-winning streak at the time, their first winning streak of the season.
December 6, 2010: After a 34-16 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Singletary continued the Quarterback Carousel by renaming Alex Smith the starter at quarterback.
December 12, 2010: In his first start in almost two months, Smith was booed at home on the second play of the game by 49ers fans. While he started the game inconsistent, he went on to pass for 255 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He finished with a QB rating of 130.9. The 49ers went on to beat the Seahawks, 40-21.
December 16, 2010: The up and down season continued for Smith as he struggled against the San Diego Chargers on Thursday Night Football. Smith regressed badly as the 49ers were routed 34-7.
December 26, 2010: With the 49ers playoff hopes still alive, thanks to a terrible NFC West, Singletary did the unthinkable and named Troy Smith the starter for the Week 16 game against the Rams. Singletary showed signs in the game he was out of his element as a head coach. Mid-way through the game, he had Alex relieve Troy to finish out the game. Smith would pass for 120 yards and completed 67% of his passes, but San Francisco went down to the Rams, 25-17. That would be one of Singletary’s last decisions as the 49ers head coach.
Final stats for 2010: 10 starts (3-7), 2,370 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 59.6 completion percentage, 82.1 QB rating and 25 sacks.
2011: Game Manager Season
January 11, 2011: 49ers hired Jim Harbaugh as their new head coach. It was widely expected the 49ers would move on from Smith after another dismal season. But with Harbaugh as former quarterback and his track record of developing QB’s, he publically said he wanted Smith to return and he was his “guy”. Despite the NFL lockout and with no contract, Smith organized off-season workouts with players to help learn Harbaugh’s new offense.
July 26, 2011: Smith signed a one-year, $5 million deal to stay in San Francisco.
September 2, 2011: Not that there was any doubt; Smith was named the starting quarterback heading into the regular season.
October 2, 2011: Smith had his first big game in Harbaugh’s offensive system against the Eagles in Week 4. Down 23-3, Smith rallied the 49ers to a 24-23 victory as he completed 9-of-9 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter. It would go down as Smith’s biggest comeback victory with the 49ers.
October 16, 2011: The game against the Detroit Loins is more known for Handshake Gate, than what actually happened on the field. Smith had his third come-from-behind road victory of the season, beating the Lions, 25-19.
November 13, 2011: Smith was instrumental in the teams, 27-20, home win over the New York Giants. Frank Gore was held to zero yards before he left the game with an injury, so the offense rested on his Smith’s shoulders. He completed 19-of-30 passes for 242 yards and one touchdown.
Final stats for 2011: 16 starts (13-3), 3,144 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 61.3 completion percentage, 90.7 QB rating and 44 sacks. He finished the season with five come-from-behind victories, with four coming on the road. The 49ers won the NFC West for the first time since 2002.
2012: Beginning of the End
January 14, 2012: After seven seasons with the 49ers, Smith finally appeared in his first playoff game. In the NFC Divisional Round game against the Saints, Smith had two plays that forever will be etched into 49ers history. Smith led the 49ers on touchdown drives of 80 and 85 yards in the final four minutes of the game. On the 80-yard drive, Smith scored on a 28-yard touchdown run that put them up, 29-25. After the Saints regained the lead, Smith hit Vernon Davis on a 14-yard touchdown pass with nine seconds left in the game. They would go on to win 36-32. I will always remember the playoff game as being one of the most nerve-racking and exciting games I have witnessed with Smith at quarterback. He finished with 299 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
January 22, 2012: In true Smith fashion, he followed up his great game against the Saints with a dud against the Giants in the NFC Championship game. At the end of the loss, Smith had 196 yards and only completed 46% of his passes.
March 2012: Smith became a free agent, put at the same time the 49ers started courting Peyton Manning. In response, Smith met with the Miami Dolphins in case the 49ers signed Manning. After all the dust settled, Smith signed a three-year contract worth $24 million.
September 9, 2012: Smith started the regular season with a huge victory over the Packers, 30-22. It was another statement win for Smith as he went up against Aaron Rodgers and defeated him for the first time in his career. Smith finished with 211 passing yards and two touchdowns.
October 7, 2012: Smith has his second-career 300-yard game and an almost perfect QB rating of 156.2 in a 45-3 blowout win over the Buffalo Bills.
October 29, 2012: In a Monday Night Football game against the Cardinals, Smith was almost perfect by completing 18-of-19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns. The 49ers won, 24-3.
November 11, 2012: Smith’s last start at quarterback for the 49ers. Heading into a Week 10 matchup against the Rams, Smith had led the Niners to a 6-2 record. He averaged 208 passing yards in the first eight games and had 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. However, in the second quarter of the game he suffered a concussion and was replaced by Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers would end the game with a tie, but the Alex Smith Era was over, and the Kaepernick Era was just beginning.
November 24, 2012: Even though Smith was cleared to play, Harbaugh went with Kaepernick as he didn’t want to rush Alex back. Little did we know at the time, but Smith was done as the 49ers starting quarterback.
November 26, 2012: After Kaepernick defeated the Saints, 31-21 on the road, Harbaugh named him the starter over Smith. But Harbaugh said the assignment was week-to-week and not permanent. Ha, yeah right. This was Smith’s third NFL head coach to abandon him in favor of a better quarterback.
Final stats for 2012: 9 starts (6-2-1), 1,737 passing yards, 13 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 70.2 completion percentage, 104.1 QB rating and 24 sacks.
2013: The Trade
February 27, 2013: The 49ers agreed to trade Smith to the Chiefs for a second-round draft pick.
March 12, 2013: With the official start of the 2013 season, the Alex Smith Era came to an end with his trade to the Chiefs.