Alex Smith's development: Stats, lies and optimism

I posted Mike Singletary's press conference transcript from yesterday and he had plenty of comments about Alex Smith.  However, the 49ers also made Alex Smith available to the media and he had a few thoughts before he heads off into the offseason.  I'll have more comments on Alex Smith when we do the QB review, but for now I thought his closing comments were worth posting after the jump.  Smith didn't have anything especially profound to say.  When asked about his performance this season he naturally indicated there was good and bad and pointed specifically to a specific instance of a problem:

What really stands out are a couple of bad games - half of my interceptions came in two games. You have to try to minimize those types of things and focus on what you are doing well and try to reproduce them. That would help going forward. Like anything, look at it, see what you need to get better at, and focus on getting better at that and try to create a well-rounded game.

As Singletary mentioned in his media session, consistency is a huge issue, and I see consistency being necessary for Smith to develop that well-rounded game he mentioned.  Statistically, Alex Smith was a mixed bag of sorts.  His touchdowns were up, while his yards per attempt fell just short of his career best in 2006.  His interceptions were down, but he also missed 5.5 games, so it's entirely possible he would have had a career high in interceptions.

The number some folks like to point to is his career high QB rating and the fact that is surpasses that of QBs like Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler.  I think that, combined with the fact that he had two of his best rating performances the last two games of the season, would hopefully rope in the last few folks who think it's some kind of phenomenal statistic.

I remain stuck on two things (some might say excuses/reasons for optimism) when it comes to Alex Smith.  The first is the issue of his offensive line and the second is the idea of having an OC for two straight seasons.  If you disagree with my comments I'd love to hear why.

I mention the offensive line because there were in fact many times where Smith had next to no time to make his reads and the subsequent pass.  He often was flushed to his right and with nobody open would just fling the ball out of bounds.  Smith has issues with accuracy that I think he can improve on (I believe howtheyscored mentioned it, but Peyton Manning jumped from 62% to consistently above 66% in his 5th season, so after 64 starts in the league).  If he could have a legit line in front of him, is it conceivable he could take some next step in his development?  Maybe not to superstar status, but to at least consistently decent status (which is all the 49ers need with a potential dominant defense)?

The second issue is once again having Jimmy Raye and Mike Johnson together working with Smith for a second straight offseason.  Some folks think it's better to get a new OC than stick with Jimmy Raye another year.  I really do think that with one season under his belt, Jimmy Raye actually could show improvement next season.  Given the review the coaching stuff will be involved in, I actually am kind of excited to see a second year of whatever this offense is.  I suppose this is more of my pointless optimism (as many would view it), but I really do think a second year could make a big difference.  And if I'm wrong?  Well, you know where to find me for communal mockery.

QB Alex Smith
Season-Ending Quotes - January 4, 2010

San Francisco 49ers

On how the players feel about the season:

"Good and bad, I think it is mixed. We did some good things this year. We didn't hit our goal though. Playoffs are the thing you talk about, it is the thing you strive for and the thing you work for. You want a chance to keep playing and we didn't do that. At the same time, we did some good things. I just think we lacked some consistency at some times. So good and bad, I guess kind of mixed."

On the good things that stand out in his mind from the season:

"We went through a lot. We went through a lot of adversity and played in a lot of close games. We lost quite a few of those early on, those close ones, but I think in the end we are better for it. I think by the end, we were tougher for it. When we got in bad situations, we didn't panic. There wasn't a panic in the locker room. We had that self confidence that we knew we could get it done with the game on the line."

On how the offseason will be different knowing he will have the same offensive coordinator next year:

"It will be new for me. A lot of it will be self reflection and self analysis, looking back at this last year and analyzing the things we did and where we can go from there to get to the next step. How do we get better? How do we take it to the next level? This offseason will be big because we won't be installing from square one. It is really, how do we push ourselves to take that step and not just go through the motions of an offseason? We really need to have a sense of urgency and take advantage of the time."

On his play this season:

"It is hard to say at this point, I still haven't really had a chance to reflect on the whole deal. We did some good things, I did some good things. I had some productivity I think. What really stands out are a couple of bad games - half of my interceptions came in two games. You have to try to minimize those types of things and focus on what you are doing well and try to reproduce them. That would help going forward. Like anything, look at it, see what you need to get better at, and focus on getting better at that and try to create a well-rounded game."

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