2012: Beginning of the End for Alex Smith and the 49ers
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.