2005-2006: The Future of the Franchise
April 23, 2005: 49ers selected Alex Smith with the No. 1 pick of the 2005 draft to become the team’s new franchise quarterback. Smith and Aaron Rodgers were considered the top-two quarterbacks available in the draft that year. Newly hired head coach Mike Nolan saw Smith as the better prospect over Rodgers.
July 26, 2005: Smith signed a six-year, $49.5 million contract with the 49ers. The contract included $24 million in guaranteed money.
October 9, 2005: Smith made his first career start at quarterback in the NFL against the Indianapolis Colts. San Francisco loses 28-3, while Smith completes 9-of-23 passes for 74 yards, four interceptions and five sacks. He finished the game with a QB rating of 8.5. Welcome to the NFL.
December 24, 2005: Smith recorded his first win as a starting quarterback with the 49ers. He led the victory over the St. Louis Rams, 24-20, by completing 12-of-16 passes for 131 yards and finished with a QB rating of 98.7.
Final stats for 2005: Seven starts (2-5) , 875 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 11 interceptions, 50.9 completion percentage, 40.8 QB rating and 29 sacks.
2006: Smith Starts for a Full Season
January 1, 2006 (Week 16 of 2005 season): In a game against the Houston Texans that was dubbed the Reggie Bush Bowl, Smith threw for his first career touchdown, a 14-yard pass to receiver Brandon Lloyd.
The loser of the Texans vs. 49ers game was guaranteed the No. 1 overall selection in the 2006 draft. At the time, many expected Bush to be the first pick in the draft, no matter which team was making the selection. The Texans won, so to speak, but ended up drafting defensive lineman Mario Williams instead.
The 49ers ended up with the sixth overall pick and selected Vernon Davis. Williams is no longer with the Texans, while Davis has…well, you know.
I was in attendance at Candlestick Park for the Texans vs. 49ers game. On the bus ride from downtown SF to the stadium, I remember sitting across from a group of Texans fans who were more excited about their team losing, just so Houston could draft Bush, than they were about their team winning. I will ever get how any fan can cheer for their team to lose, no matter the circumstances.
Anyway, I was sitting in Section 41, a few rows back from the field, and the 49ers were driving down the field towards the end zone in front of me. After Smith connected with Lloyd for the TD right in front of the section I was in, I remembered thinking, ‘I just witnessed history by seeing Smith’s first touchdown pass of his career!
However, the next seven seasons did not go the way I thought with Smith becoming the 49ers next franchise quarterback.
August 2006: With new offensive coordinator Norv Turner on board, Smith was named the starter for the 2006 season. He spent the off-season working with Turner and offensive players to improve on his rookie season.
September 2006: Even though the 49ers would loss two of their first three games, Smith threw for 814 passing yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. In the September 24, 2006, game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Smith attempted a career-high 46 passes and threw for 293 passing yards and one touchdown.
October 1, 2006: Ironically, Smith was brought down back to Earth in a 41-0 blowout loss to the Chiefs in K.C. The quarterback threw two interceptions and only had 92 passing yards.
October 8, 2006: Smith would bounce back in a big way the following week by completing 15-of-19 passes for 165 passing yards and a career-high three touchdown passes. The 49ers beat the Oakland Raiders, 34-20.
October-November, 2006: Despite how well Smith played in the first five games, over the next six games he looked very much like his was still a rookie. In those games he averaged 180 passing yards and threw for a total of five touchdowns and six interceptions, to go along with 14 sacks. Even with Smith playing like a rookie, the 49ers did have a three game winning streak in November.
December 14, 2006: Smith’s first statement game. Heading into the Thursday Night Football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Smith was criticized for not being a true franchise quarterback and that the 49ers made the wrong pick. However, Smith led the 49ers to his first fourth comeback win of his career in a 24-14 win over the Seahawks. With San Francisco down 7-3 going into the fourth quarter, Smith led the 49ers on three touchdown drives to pull out the victory. The final touchdown that gave them the win was Smith’s 18-yard rushing touchdown on a naked bootleg.
December 31, 2006: In the final game of the 2006 season, Smith helped eliminate the Denver Broncos from the playoffs after upsetting the team on the road, 26-23. In the game, Smith threw for 194 passing yards, one touchdown and led the 49ers to fourth quarter comeback for the second time in three games.
Final stats for 2006: 16 starts (7-9), 2,890 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 58.1 completion percentage, 74.8 QB rating and 35 sacks. Smith is the only quarterback in 49ers franchise history to take every snap under center in a season.