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Week 7 vs. HOU
Passing: 15 - 22, 206 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: 2 / 16 / 0
Alex Smith returned to regular-season action after almost 2 years of real activity and quickly seized the moment. Smith completed his first 9 passes and threw 3 second half touchdown passes to tight end Vernon Davis. Most impressively, Smith showed a lot of patience and confidence in the pocket before unleashing hard, accurate throws all over the field. Smith also scrambled twice, picking up a key first down on a rollout to the left side where he found space to pick up 11 yards before running out of bounds. Smith's day finished with an impressive 203 passing yards and 3 touchdowns in one half of work. The 49ers offense was dramatically more effective with Smith under center, most notably with the emergence of a downfield passing game that saw Smith complete half a dozen passes more then 15 yards down the field. His only interception came on a desperation throw late in the 4th quarter as the 49ers tried one last time to win the game.
Week 8 vs. IND
Passing: 19 - 32, 198 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: 1 / 10 / 0
Smith was impressive at times, and his overall day would likely have been better had a few bounces gone his way. He played smart in his first start of the season: he spread the ball around on sustained drives, but knows that Michael Crabtree is his most likely meal ticket going forward and tried to get him the ball often. Smith had his share of highlight reel plays --- a laser beam pass to Crabtree in stride for a 27 yard pickup looked like a good sign that they were in synch together; and he hooked up with Vernon Davis for another TD (after 3 last week) --- but was also wildly inconsistent with his accuracy --- sometimes right on the button, and sometimes way off target. Smith did a good job eluding the pass rush, scrambling well but not leaving the pocket until he absolutely had to.
Week 9 vs. TEN
Passing: 29 - 45, 286 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: 2 / 11 / 0
Alex Smith threw quite a bit in Week 9 against the Titans as the 49ers tried to keep pace in a back and forth contest. Smith ended the first half with a nice touchdown to WR Jason Hill, who both kept the play alive on a slowly developing scramble and pass for a short scoring pass before halftime. He found Hill again later in the contest, but his two fourth quarter interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) cost the 49ers in a big way. Smith's performance was not rock solid but with San Francisco already switching to him away from Shaun Hill, he is likely to start the rest of the season.
Week 10 vs. CHI
Passing: 16 - 23, 118 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: 2 / 2 / 0
Alex Smith had a relatively quiet night against a formidable Chicago Bears defense in Week 10, barely topping the 100-yard mark in passing yards. Smith threw more in the first half, picking up 72 yards through the air as opposed to 46 after halftime. Smith completed eight passes in each half, a testament to how conservative the passing game was in the final 30 minutes. Smith did attempt to stretch the field once but was intercepted on a 30+ yard throw from near midfield to the Chicago 20-yard line on a ball intended for Michael Crabtree. Chicago applied strong pressure all night and Smith was more than happy to hand the ball over to Frank Gore or even hit him on a short pass when there was little else available. Smith could put up bigger numbers in the right matchups the rest of the year, but against good defenses he should remain on fantasy benches.
Week 11 vs. GB
Passing: 16 - 33, 227 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: 1 / 2 / 0
Smith had a nightmarish first half. He didn't have much time to throw, but he clearly internalized that reality and looked scared, tentative, and generally overwhelmed as he lead the 49ers to -7 yards passing in the first 30 minutes. The offense opened up in the second half comeback effort, and Smith was able to feed Vernon Davis in the middle of the field and made a few downfield completions to Michael Crabtree. The offensive line didn't do Smith any favors, but he is not doing anything to cement his status as the 49ers QB of the future.
Week 12 vs. JAX
Passing: 27 - 41, 232 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: 3 / 8 / 0
Smith was decisive and came out firing hard, accurate throws. His maturity showed also, in that he was able to get the ball to the receiver gently when the play called for it. He spread the ball out well, and played very aggressively without making mistakes. Smith is clearly becoming more comfortable leading this offense. He's got great patience and vision, and a nifty play action handoff that fooled the entire defense for an easy touchdown to Vernon Davis. When he had to scramble, he often waited until the last possible second before releasing the ball. This resulted in one throw from the sideline, caught by Frank Gore, literally on his toes at the edge of the end zone boundary. With two go-to receivers in Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis, and a workhorse running back who can also catch the ball, Smith's prospects are only looking up. Also worth noting: the game plan was pass heavy from the start and stayed that way until they needed to burn the clock in the final drive.
Week 13 vs. SEA
Passing: 27 - 45, 310 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: 1 / 1 / 0
Smith came out firing the ball downfield, as he had in the past couple of games --- there is no doubt that the 49ers are now a pass first team. The Seahawks blitzed heavily, making it tough for him to make plays in the early going. Smith adjusted quickly, and found success working out of the shotgun and on rollouts. He usually looked for his downfield targets first, but did an excellent job of mixing up short and long throws to keep the defense off balance. Smith is quite accurate and puts a lot of zip on the ball, which gives his receivers a chance on most throws. But there were far too many misses and drops on good passes; Smith could easily have topped 350 yards and added another touchdown if not for the miscues. Not to mention the 49ers probably would have come away with the win.
Week 14 vs. ARI
Passing: 19 - 35, 144 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: 4 / 2 / 0
Receiving: 1 / -6 / 0 on 1 targets
It wasn't a great game for Smith, but it was good enough to win. He made some mistakes, like throwing into tight coverage (resulting in one of his interceptions), and not getting enough air under the ball to clear the Cards defensive line (resulting in a tip that was picked for his other interception), but Smith also leaned on Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree in the middle of the field to punish a defense that also couldn't contain Frank Gore. Smith's TD throw to Davis was a fastball into Davis's chest on a slant, and Crabtree snagged Smith's high ball over the middle on the other score. Smith showed savvy drawing three offsides calls with a hard count on the game's first drive, and he would probably be the presumptive opening day starter in 2010 if the season ended today.
Week 15 vs. PHI
Passing: 20 - 37, 177 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: 1 / 1 / 0
Alex Smith struggled in the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles (7-17-61), throwing three interceptions as the Eagles disguised coverages well and forced several bad throws from the former first overall pick. Smith attempted to mount a comeback in the second half as he found Josh Morgan for a short touchdown and also connected with Michael Crabtree several times after intermission but it was too little too late. Smith does have one thing working in his favor as the 49ers travel home next week to host the Detroit Lions.
Week 16 vs. DET
Passing: 20 - 31, 230 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: 3 / -3 / 0
Smith didn't look like a polished NFL QB, and frequently threw across his body when trying to complete a pass. A few balls sailed on him and he missed on several other passes that should have been completed. However, he managed to stay mistake free for the game, and completed the key big plays when it counted. In the first quarter, Michael Crabtree broke away from the defenders and was open deep down the field. Smith rolled out and threw it as far as he could, completing the pass to Crabtree for a big 50 yard gain. In the third, on 4th and 1, Smith found Gore as he released into the flats behind the defense. The DBS were keying on Crabtree deep and Gore was wide open. Smith laid a perfect pass to him and Gore had a catch and run that turned into a big 48 yard gain. Considering almost 100 of Smith's 230 yards came on these two plays, you can see how ineffective he was for most of the game. However, he kept the clock moving and mixed up the passes enough to keep the defense from keying on Gore when it counted. It was a big win for the Niners when they needed it most. Smith's TD pass was probably not necessary as he could have beaten his defender to the corner of the end zone. However when the defender pulled off of Vernon Davis, Smith stopped short (almost crossing the line of scrimmage) and flipped the ball over the defense to Davis for the TD pass.
Week 17 vs. STL
Passing: 17 - 28, 222 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: 4 / 1 / 0
Smith had a few moments to remember as the game went on after a very conservative, underwhelming performance for most of the game. Smith wasn't challenging the Rams defense downfield too often, and he faced some pressure keeping him from always deliberately going through his reads. The 49ers had three and outs on eight of their first 11 possessions as Smith often settled for short passes. He finally broke through in the second half with a perfect deep ball to Vernon Davis, and later he hit Michael Crabtree deep, but the ball was underthrown, preventing a larger gain. Smith was off high on a lot of his throws to Crabtree, and overall he had a very mediocre day against a vulnerable defense.