2007: The Free Fall
February 19, 2007: After Smith thrived under offensive coordinator Norv Turner in the 2006, it looked as if the quarterback would build on the success he had with his coach for the upcoming season. However, plans changed after Turner was hired by the San Diego Chargers to be their new head coach. Quarterbacks coach Jim Hostler replaced Turner as offensive coordinator to keep continuity with the offensive language and schemes. The continuity did not help Smith as he would be under his third offensive coordinator in three years. This was a starting of a pattern and not an anomaly at offensive coordinator for the 49ers.
September 10, 2007: In the season opener it looked as if the loss of Turner would not have any effect on Smith or the 49ers offense. Smith picked up right where he left off the previous season with another fourth quarter comeback victory.
Against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football, Smith led the 49ers on a game-winning touchdown drive with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter. The TD drive included a 25-yard scramble by Smith that put San Francisco in the red zone. The 49ers won 20-17 and Smith finished with 126 passing yards and 36 rushing yards.
September 30, 2007: After a 2-1 record to start the season, it looked as if Smith and the 49ers offense had finally found their groove. Then was the game against the Seahawks in Week 4 and the infamous sack by Seattle’s defensive lineman Rocky Bernard on Smith. Bernard pile drived Smith into the ground and he suffered a grade three shoulder separation. The injury would keep him out for three weeks, before he returned. The shoulder injury would haunt Smith for years.
October 28, 2007: After missing three weeks, Smith returned from his shoulder injury against the New Orleans Saints, but he still looked hurt. The 49ers would lose to the Saints, 31-1. He would go on to start the next two games, but he would throw three interceptions and zero touchdowns. The 49ers lost all three games.
November 12, 2007: Ironically, Alex would make his final start of the 2007 season against the Seattle Seahawks. It was clear by the way he played in the game that he was still suffering from his shoulder injury. He passed for 114 yards and completed only 43% of his passes.
For the rest of November, Nolan and Smith had a public feud through the press. The head coach questioned Smith’s toughness dealing with his shoulder injury, while Smith said he was still hurt and he was not helping the team by being under center. Nolan also said Smith’s bad play at QB had nothing to do with his injury. In end both sides said there was a miscommunication, but the relationship between the two was already damaged beyond repair.
December 11, 2007: Upon further examination, it turned out Smith was really injured as he was placed on injured reserve and underwent surgery on his shoulder, which ended his season.
Final stats for 2007: 7 starts (2-5), 914 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 48.7 completion percentage, 57.2 QB rating and 17 sacks.