Short of winning a Super Bowl or two, Alex Smith may never get the love that seems to attach like magnets to the Mannings, Rogerses and Bradys of the world. And with RGIII, Andrew Luck and a slew of young QBs now making their mark, the spotlight doesn’t seem wide enough for the Niner QB with the unassuming name.
But at 2-0 overall and 2-0 ATS heading into Sunday’s game at Minnesota (SF -6.5, 42.5), Smith has a little new-found respect that has eluded him since he was taken as the No. 1 overall pick in 2005.
"He might be as tough as a bad cut of meat,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh told CBSsports.com
of Smith last Sunday night after the QB was 20-26 with two TDs and no INTs in their win over Detroit. The numbers were nearly identical to Smith’s line (20-26, two TDs, zero INTs) in a career signature victory at Green Bay on opening day.
If it’s not one thing, it’s been the other in a career full of false starts for Smith in San Francisco. He has had to adjust to seven different offensive coordinators (including Mike Martz), once lost his job to the immortal Shaun Hill, renegotiated his contract (down) and for more than half a decade has heard people telling him what he is not rather than what he is.
Being called a game manager is an insult of sorts to an NFL quarterback, but it got Tom Brady off to a good start on his road to the Hall of Fame. And managing a team with a top-quality defense with good offensive weapons that was a few misplays away from the Super Bowl last season can’t be all that bad. Smith ranks only 24th in passing yards, but has the second-best (Matt Ryan) QB rating.
"He's making some plays for their offense down the field, not just intermediate routes, which was the knock on him in the past," Frazier said this week
in the leadup to Sunday’s game. "He's definitely more than a game manager. I think that NFC playoff game against New Orleans kind of speaks to that."
Bettors who look at numbers see perfection so far in Smith, and even Niner fans jealous of teams with big-name franchise QBs are starting to realize that if you can’t be with the one you love, it’s time to starting loving the one you’re with.