Rewind to January 22, 2012, NFC Championship, San Francisco hosting the NY Giants. Game ends 20-17 in favor of New York. Alex Smith goes 12/26 in the game, and everyone wonders if he is the weak link on the 49ers.
Fast forward to present day, Smith was benched after being injured, and is now considered the must-have QB this offseason for QB-needy teams.
So what on Earth happened?
Well, for one, and to the credit of him and Jim Harbaugh, and OC Greg Roman, Smith has thrown for 30 TD and only 10 INT over his last 26 regular season games. His QB-rating last year was over 90, and he was over 100 this year when he went down hurt.
He clearly has improved on his early career incompetence. I like him. He was a good soldier not complaining as he got Wally-Pipped.
I just can’t help but feel it’s been much about smoke and mirrors for Smith. He’s been in the NFL, and with the Niners, for 8 years now. If we haven’t seen the best, we at least got a peak at it the last couple of years. He clearly fits the definition of a game-manager, and you can only win with those guys if they are surrounded with a ton of talent. Alex Smith isn’t taking any team to the next level. By almost any measure he wouldn’t rank among the top 20 quarterbacks in the league.
So why are there reports of teams falling over themselves to acquire him from San Francisco? Kansas City, Cleveland, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Oakland, Arizona, Buffalo, Jacksonville, and the New York Jets are among the teams that have been mentioned in varying reports with interest. Heck, even Baltimore has been mentioned as a fall-back option if Joe Flacco proves to be too costly.
If you sign him as a free agent to tutor a young quarterback and he is a bridge-gap QB, then you are looking at Smith the right way. If you are looking to deal a draft pick for a guy that is a below average starter with little upside and view him as an answer to your quarterback question, then you’ll continue down the path of mediocrity.
Alex Smith is a poor man’s Chad Pennington at this stage in the game. He might not get you beat, and he can help you win some games. Doesn’t sound like a recipe for success to me. I’d rather save money and a pick and just draft a quarterback in the mid-rounds.