Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Alex Smith's Game For The Ages
Less than a week after NFL Network ran specials on former owner Eddie DeBartolo and Joe Montana, Alex Smith did his best to turn the clocks back to 1991. Why 1991? It was on October 20, 1991 that Steve Young put together one of the best QB performances in 49er history when he completed 18-20 passes for 237 yards and 2 TD's in a 35-3 49er victory over the Detroit Lions at Candlestick Park.
On Monday Night, Smith put together what might be the best game of his life as he completed 18-19 passes for 232 yards and 3 TD's. Smith has been a lightning rod for criticism since joining the 49ers as the first pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. Even with this record breaking performance many are diminishing the accomplishment. Their reasons? He never went down field with his throws. He needs to rely on the running game. He held onto the ball too long on the sacks. Let's see if he can do it again next week.
Let's take a look at those in a little deeper context. It is true that Smith never went deep, and part of that is due to him making good decisions and not forcing a throw that was not there. Case in point, during their 1st quarter TD drive Greg Roman called a play action shot with Randy Moss running a deep post, and Vernon Davis running a deep corner. Both were covered well, so Smith checked down to Kendall Hunter who picked up the first down. In addition to this, Smith was extremely accurate all night long, putting the ball on the money to allow his receivers to pick up big yards after the catch, a key sight during those Golden Years of Montana and Young.
He needs to rely on the running game. In the first half last night the 49ers were very balanced, running almost as much as they passed. The ended the night with 30 runs and 19 passes. To put that into historical perspective, on the day in which Young set the previous mark, the 49ers passed the ball 20 times and ran the ball 54 times. That number dwarfs the number from last night. This offense is at its best when it is balanced, and last night the offensive coaches did a fantastic job of sticking to that in the first half, and early in the 2nd. The numbers did not start to favor the run, until the 49ers were already up by 24 points and running out the clock.
He held onto the ball too long on the sacks. This is a true statement, but it should also be noted that only 2 of those sacks occurred prior to the game being put away, and neither stopped the offense from eventually scoring. First on a 43 yard FG by David Akers, and later on a 9 yard TD pass to Michael Crabtree.
Let's see if he can do it again next week. Again a little historical perspective goes a long way. Young followed up that great performance in 1991 by going 10-15 for 96 yards and 1 TD the following week in a 23-7 49er win in Philadelphia.
All 49er fans should take a step back and reflect on the great accomplishment that they witnessed last night, and put their past dislike of Smith and his game on the shelf for at least 24 hours. I have never been a big fan or believer in Alex Smith, some would say that I sit on the fence when it comes to him. That being said, I can truly say that last nights performance was one for the ages.