First of all, happy holidays to everyone. I realize how much contention or even animosity the subject of Alex Smith may draw right now, but for my own reasons I would like to discuss my thoughts about him.
While Alex Smith's tendency to cave into pressure and completely diffuse the rhythm of his own offensive drive remains a concern, in the man's defense I would like to put myself in his position and think about what it is I have to do and how I should go about it. If I were Alex Smith and had all of his qualities as a person, I might surely find it difficult to cope with pressure, and would probably throw interceptions too. Many of the people who have criticized him (however vindictively) have failed to take into account that they themselves have never actually played football and can only perceive Alex Smith's on-field circumstances from a third-person perspective. As fans, what we see on television (or at the game itself) is what we get. But anytime somebody has difficulty dealing with pressure, it is always because they are seeing things differently than we do.
I think that most people forget how hard it is to succeed in the NFL. Even the legendary Joe Montana threw his fair share of interceptions and came up short in some seasons. For the majority of Steve Young's career the 49ers had never even seen another super bowl.
I am not an Alex Smith hater, but I do think some people have been unfair to him and overly critical of everything he has tried his very best to do. The fact that he took a paycut this year just to stay on the team and try to finish what he started says a lot about his character. I don't think anyone can deny that is admirable.
I personally believe Alex Smith has the skill to be an elite quarterback. He has shown great arm strength and profound passing accuracy and judgment at times, but has, in other cases, thrown picks because of his poor handling of pressure. Based on this assessment (regardless of whether or not you agree), it is only fair to say that Alex Smith's problem as a player has nothing to do with his arm strength or skill, but has everything to do with his general approach to dealing with pressure.
As a fan, I have no influence over the decisions that the front office or coaching staff will make. Should they decide to start Alex Smith again, then they will start Alex Smith again with the intention of letting him continue to develop. However, I certainly would not disfavor playing Nate Davis, at least sparingly, over the next two games so that we can all see what exactly he has to offer in a regular season atmosphere. We have seen good ball security but no offensive drive out of Shaun Hill. We have seen good mobility and arm strength from Alex Smith but a bad approach to coping with pressure. It is only fair that we see what we have out of Nate Davis, who has, without doubt, marveled a noticeable following of 49er fans with his incredible passing accuracy and speed, as well as his noticeably good pocket awareness.