QB Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
HT: 6-4, WT: 212, Born: 5-7-1984, College: Utah, Drafted: Round 1, Pick 1
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Average draft position
Current as of May 6th. [Full ADP list]Overall: A Dobson (212), Alex Smith (214), J Edelman (215), B Gibson (216)
Position: C Palmer (183-QB24), J Locker (190-QB25), Alex Smith (214 - QB26), G Smith (247-QB27), B Weeden (248-QB28)
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It's easy to forget after the performance of Colin Kaepernick, but Alex Smith was actually enjoying his best season ever before a concussion and the play of Kaepernick derailed it. Through eight weeks he was the 15th amongst quarterbacks in fantasy points, which is as close as Smith has ever come to sniffing QB1 territory. His completion percentage (70.2%) would have been tied for the fifth best of all-time had he finished the year and he raised his yards per attempt almost a full yard higher than his career best. Smith steps into a very good situation in Kansas City and it's easy to wonder if he can match his production from the first half of 2012. He arguably has better weapons in Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe, but he will not enjoy the same protection behind Kansas City's revamped offensive line. That lack of protection leads to injury concerns, but a need to scramble could lead to more rushing yards for Smith if he can stay healthy. While many of Smith’s struggles early in his career were attributed to a lack of stability, Head Coach Andy Reid does not believe that this change will have the same effect on Smith. At the NFL owners meetings this offseason Reid said of the change: “I think the last couple years, that will carry over. And he did, he had a ton of change. Most quarterbacks that go through that, they’re ruined. They never come out on the positive side. They get crushed. But he was able to work through all that. Even the year before Jim [Harbaugh] got there, you could see him, his production starting to go up. But what he was doing there, the terminology will be very similar; scheme for the most part will be very similar. I don’t think it will be a big transition."
|1||at Jacksonville Jaguars|
|3||at Philadelphia Eagles|
|4||New York Giants|
|5||at Tennessee Titans|
|9||at Buffalo Bills|
|11||at Denver Broncos|
|12||San Diego Chargers|
|14||at Washington Redskins|
|15||at Oakland Raiders|
|17||at San Diego Chargers|
2012 Game Summaries
Week 1 - Opposite perhaps the best QB in the NFL, Alex Smith may be just as important to his team as Aaron Rodgers is to his, but for entirely different reasons. Smith proved on Sunday his comprehension of his role for the 49ers is well understood. The offensive game plan was clear on Sunday. Long, methodical drives that were meant to keep Rodgers and the prolific Packer offense off the field and the ferocious 49er defense fresh. When Smith wasn’t feeding Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, Michael Crabtree and the rest of the 49er pass catchers were picking up eight yards at time with short outs and slants, often picking on rookie linebacker Nick Perry and cornerback Jarrett Bush. After a quick three and out on their first drive, Smith led the offense to five straight scoring drives, all the while without converting a third down until the last of those scoring drives. The former number overall pick’s best drive may have been the last of those scoring drives. Starting on their own 16-yard line, Green Bay blitzed four straight plays and yet, the 49er offense moved the ball to the Packer 42-yard line after those blitzes, including converting their first third down. Smith found Crabtree on an out for 20 yards on 3rd down. Then hit Vernon Davis on a play-action fake over the middle for 29 yards. The drive culminated with another 3rd down conversion, an out to Davis for a four-yard TD. Smith’s numbers will not jump off the page at anyone, but that isn’t what this team needs or is looking for. Refrain from turning the ball over (Smith set a franchise record for most passes without an INT on Sunday) and take what the defense gives you. Smith’s numbers could certainly have been better, but after building a 23-7 lead, coach Jim Harbaugh clearly went to a much more conservative game plan looking to drain the clock. It was a little disheartening the 49ers didn’t take a shot down the field to Randy Moss (they only took one legitimate 20+ yard shot, which went to Davis but looked more like a throwaway), but it’ll be something to keep an eye on as the chemistry between Smith and Moss develops.
Week 2 - Alex Smith had an extremely solid performance on Sunday against the Lions defense. Smith leaned on his defense and running game to help him but he has made significant strides as a Quarterback and was more than a “game manager” on Sunday. Smith has become a lot more vocal and in control of this offense, this evident by the amount of audibles he was using and checks to certain plays. Early in the game, Smith checked to a pass to Vernon Davis for the touchdown. Smith saw the mismatch Davis would pose, made the audible and lofted a perfect pass over the defender for the easy looking score. For the most part, Smith took what the defense gave him with simple reads and throws to the open man on the field. He enjoyed a solid running game with Frank Gore and good field position. The 49ers running game meant the passing game was simpler aswell, as there was a lot of one on one match ups for Smith to take advantage of and he often was able to throw the ball to his first read. Smith was tough in the pocket, did not go down easy and made very few mistakes which kept the 49ers in charge against the Lions. Smith almost found Davis deep down the field mid way through the game on a fade pattern but Davis was just not able to haul it in. However, late in the game Smith was able to roll out of the pocket and hit TE Davis for the touchdown pass. Davis got the well thrown pass and made two defenders miss for the score. Smith looks like a vastly improved QB but he still relied somewhat on his team to guide his performance. Regardless, the offense has improved since last year and Smith is opening up the passing game for the 49ers.
Week 3 - Because of the early offensive burst by the Minnesota Vikings, the 49ers found themselves behind the entire game. Trailing throughout, the 49ers were forced to get away from their run game and Smith had to throw the ball 35 times, completing 24 for 204 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. When the Vikings were able to bring pressure, Smith often missed open targets. The only consistent passes that Smith was able to hit accurately were short routes, rarely did he venture medium range throws and his longest completion was 22 yards. This allowed Minnesota to play more aggressively, and San Francisco had to use rollouts to get Smith away from the rushing defenders. Smith was able to run 4 times for 26 yards, but the most important run occurred in the red zone. Smith rolled out to his right and was planted by Antoine Winfield at the line of scrimmage, forcing the 49ers to kick a field goal. The 49ers’ problem of letting drives die in the red zone was thought to have been solved with the addition of Moss and Manningham, but Smith’s reluctance to make aggressive throws forced the 49ers into settling for field goals. Smith’s best pass of the day was a throw over coverage to Vernon Davis, dropping the ball over his tight end’s shoulder. Because of the placement of the pass, Davis was able to run to the 1 yard line. The next play was a well executed play action that allowed Davis to get to the corner of the end zone, and Smith delivered an accurate ball to the wide open tight end. His worst pass of the day came with two minutes left in the game, trying to march downfield Smith had time and an open Crabtree, but badly overthrew the receiver. Whether it was miscommunication or just a bad throw, the ball landed right in the hands of Josh Robinson. While trying to bring the 49ers down the field one last time, Smith was hit hard by Jared Allen and fumbled, ending the game. It was the third sack on Smith, and the culmination of a day of heavy pressure by the Minnesota Vikings.
Week 4 - After watching the Dolphins gash the Jets for 185 rushing yards last week, Smith led a similar ‘run first’ attack to the tune of 245 yards. For most of the afternoon, Smith handed the ball to his running backs and let his offensive line dominate the line of scrimmage. In addition, the 49er defense created four turnovers and routinely gave Smith great field position.
Smith’s best drive occurred with 1:11 remaining before halftime. Holding a 7-0 lead, the 49er defense stripped Mark Sanchez and gave Smith the ball on the SF 25 yard-line. Without the looming presence of Darrelle Revis, Smith methodically led his team into field goal range. On the first play, Smith comfortably stepped up into the pocket and found Vernon Davis for a 23-yard gain. On the next play, Smith avoided the on-coming pass rush and completed a short shovel pass to Frank Gore for eight yards. Smith went back to Davis for a quick three-yard gain before hooking up with Michael Crabtree for a big 12-yard gain to put his team in field goal range. Two plays later, David Akers successfully booted a 36-yard field goal to give his team a 10-0 lead at halftime. Smith demonstrated poise, precision, and awareness during this drive.
Outside of this drive, Smith made some nice adjustments during the game. In an attempt to slow down the 49er rushing attack, the Jets tried stacking the ‘A’ gaps with their defensive tackles. However, Smith audibled into intermediate passing plays and successfully completed passes to Mario Manningham and Frank Gore. Smith misfired on a few deep passes, but the success of the running game masked these mistakes. Overall, this was a prototypical 49er football game. The defense dominated and the offensive line opened massive holes. This allowed Smith to comfortably manage the game. Given the lopsided nature of this game, the 49ers didn’t need Smith to make any many plays. However, he showed that he could step-up and make big throws when his team needed it.
Week 5 - For the entire game, Smith was able to stand in the pocket and throw to the open receiver with no pressure to worry about. Rarely did Buffalo force Smith to make quick decisions, allowing a quarterback not known for boldness to take shot after shot downfield to open receivers. Each pass was accurate and on time; the chemistry between Smith and his receivers has been increasing with each week. On the first touchdown pass, Smith identified the single coverage and threw an accurate ball to Kyle Williams’ back shoulder on a deep hitch, and Williams was able to shake his man for a touchdown. The second touchdown came on a well run post-corner route by Crabtree, who was wide open in the end zone. Without any pressure to speak of, Smith was able to hit him easily. The third touchdown came on a great move by Manningham, who had faked his corner inside and then cut to the corner of the end zone. All Smith had to do was deliver an accurate pass to the wide open Manningham. His most accurate pass was a beautiful floater to a tightly covered Vernon Davis. The ball landed right in Davis’ arms in stride and resulted in a 24 yard gain. The majority of these deep connections had more to do with the straw-man quality of the Buffalo defense, but given time Smith showed the ability to make extremely accurate throws. Another impressive aspect of Smith’s game was his scrambling ability. Whether on designed runs or being forced out of the pocket, Smith flashed above-average athleticism when it came to scrambling for long gains and first downs.
Week 6 - Alex Smith struggled mightily on Sunday evening against the Giants as they had the perfect game plan to focus on his weaknesses and eliminate his strengths as a player. The Giants were able to take away Smith’s favourite target in TE Davis, minimize RB Gore’s impact on the ground and force Smith to pass as the 49ers fell behind in this game. Smith is built to play with a lead and a solid running game and is known to struggle when he has to put the entire team on his shoulders. Smith’s first interception came on a wheel route by TE Walker. Smith floated the ball for too long and DB Amukamara was in perfect position to easily snag the lofty pass out of the air. Smith also lost a lot of snaps and production to teammate QB Kaepernick who tried unsuccessfully to run their offense with a heavy emphasis on Kaepernick’s superior athletic ability to Smith. The not so dynamic duo were rotated in far too often, neither situation worked and it clearly shows the lack of faith the 49ers have in QB Smith to come back from behind. Smith settled for a lot of short passes and checkdowns in the passing game which left them in undesirable third down situations. Manningham had a shot at a deep pass from Smith but the ball was slightly overthrown. Smith threw his second interception on slant pass intended for Manningham. Smith failed to see Antrel Rolle who read the pass and made a terrific play on the ball for the pick after Smith attempted to adjust the throw at the last second. Smith threw another interception shortly after to Rolle again as the NYG safety undercut the pass and easily picked it off to set up the Giants nicely in excellent field position. Smith had a very rough day on Sunday. His weakness in reading complex defenses in obvious passing situations was glaringly obvious and he looked lost without TE Davis as a big weapon.
Week 7 - Unsurprisingly, considering the quality of the defense he was facing, Alex Smith's best plays on the day were throw aways, check downs and sacks. The gameplan was, as it almost always is with Smith, to play it safe in the passing game. Smith was eased into the game with easy passes off of play action and with underneath routes, but even then he lacked consistency. He threw a high pass that Michael Crabtree did well to adjust to underneath, before completing to Randy Moss on a comeback. He then overthrew Kyle Williams underneath. Unlike Crabtree, Williams couldn't catch the ball but did manage to tip it away from the defender who was waiting to intercept it. Smith's only two deep passes of the day went to Williams when he overthrew him twice. Even the decisive touchdown pass in the game was a check down. Smith passed the ball underneath to Delanie Walekr who did all of the work to run the ball into the endzone. When he did force the issue, bad things happened. With excellent protection at the goalline, and the 49ers up by four with 12 minutes to go in the game, Alex Smith escaped from the pocket running left before throwing an interception. Smith either tried to fit the ball past Brandon Browner with his arm strength, or never saw the cornerback who read his eyes and jumped a pass that was going to the back of the endzone. It showed off terrible understanding of the defense and the situation. It was telling that Jim Harbaugh called a quarterback draw with Smith on third and 10 in the redzone on the next drive.
Week 8 - Smith’s gaudy completion percentage was the result of an extremely efficient short passing game that allowed the wide receivers to make plays after the catch. This short passing game itself was set up by the 49er’s heavy lean on the run, so that when Smith did drop back for quick passes, his wide receivers were often able to get separation underneath from the coverage. Smith also benefited a great deal from an offensive line that manhandled the Cardinals’ defense all game, and in pass blocking they were often able to hold off any rushers. Breakdowns did occur when none of the receivers were able to gain separation, and since Smith is not the boldest quarterback, he often held on to the ball too long and took sacks. One contributing factor to the high completion percentage was Smith’s complete aversion to throwing the ball away when a sack was imminent, though on the flip side, his one incompletion was a drop that hit Delanie Walker’s hands on an open crossing route. Smith’s first touchdown throw came on the 3 yard line, where Smith took the snap and threw a quick ball right over Patrick Peterson’s head and Michael Crabtree was able to leap over the corner and secure the ball. It was a very bold play call to go after Arizona’s best corner when the running game had been succeeding to such a degree, but the timing and accuracy of the throw turned Peterson around and Crabtree’s ability to grab and hold on to the ball with the defender doing his best to tear it away paid off. Smith’s next touchdown was a quick throw to the flat, where Crabtree was able to catch and sprint away from the defenders to get in to the end zone. It was an accurate throw and good decision as the defense was confused about their coverage before the snap, but the play really came from Crabtree, whose quickness and ability to stop-start left Peterson on the ground as he ran in to the end zone. The third touchdown throw came on another short pass, as Randy Moss beat his man on an out route, made two different cuts to sidestep tacklers, and won a foot race to the end zone. All of these touchdown plays exhibited the core strength of Alex Smith’s game, which is an ability to make extremely accurate throws and good decisions in the short passing game when given time. He was able to go through all of his progressions to find the open man and his mechanics were sound because Arizona could not get to him quick enough to force mistakes. The sacks all came from good coverage and Smith not willing to throw a ball in to tight coverage, especially tight coverage down field. Nevertheless, Smith was able to masterfully execute a short passing game that allowed his wide receivers to run amok in the Cardinals’ secondary.
Week 10 - While scrambling after flushed out of the pocket, Smith took a hard shot from Rams linebacker Dunbar. This hit led to Smith leaving the game, but not before Smith was able to lead the only efficient drive of the first half for the 49ers. Smith showed the ability to make accurate throws and good decisions when given time, but the Rams were able to get pressure up the middle and this often led to either sacks or hits on the quarterback. Smith was able to complete accurate throws to Michael Crabtree in particular, hitting the wide receiver four times in the first half, culminating in a touchdown pass where Smith recognized the oncoming blitz and threw to an open Crabtree short, who then ran in space to the end zone.