Yesterday the 49ers pulled out a tough "home" win over the Denver Broncos thanks in large part to some huge fourth quarter play from quarterback Troy Smith. While Smith didn't finish with monster numbers, he put together an incredibly efficient fourth quarter that included a pair of huge passes to Delanie Walker on one drive and two huge passes to Michael Crabtree on a second drive, both resulting in touchdowns.
It's waaaaaay too soon to declare Troy Smith some kind of QB of the future. After all, it was only one game. At the same time, Smith showed some definite skills we most definitely have rarely ever seen from Alex Smith (going with first names from here on out). The biggest difference came on the scrambling. Alex has shown an ability to move around in the pocket and take off for some big yards. However, Troy's scrambling abilities seemed a bit more productive at least within the pocket. There were at least three separate opportunities for the Broncos to bring down Troy but he spun out of harm's way and at the very least fired off an incomplete pass. However, more often than not he would hit a receiver for some sort of gain. On several of those plays I could very well have seen Alex going down in a heap or forcing a throw before he went down (instead of spinning out of a sack) and firing an interception.
One of the issues that Troy seemed to struggle with early in the game was accuracy. He hit some of those nice slant passes, but just as often he seemed to fire slants just out of the reach of his receiver's hands. He also overthrew Crabtree on a beautiful play-action pass. Crabtree was covered fairly well but a little less on the pass and I think Crabtree hauls it in. However I think much of that early inaccuracy could potentially be attributed to still-developing chemistry between Troy and his receivers.
And that might be the rub. Alex Smith was projected to miss two to three weeks with his sprained shoulder. He missed this past week, and the current week is a bye for the 49ers, after which the 49ers will take on the St. Louis Rams in what is now a monstrous home game for the 49ers. The Rams are two games up and while the 49ers may not be going to the playoffs this year, any chance of that miracle happening will require beating a Rams team that is looking fairly spunky behind Sam Bradford.
After the game yesterday, Coach Singletary was asked if Alex Smith was his starting QB at this point. Singetary basically said that Troy Smith was the starting QB right now but the team would speak with the doctors upon returning to Santa Clara and reassess things from there because Alex Smith is "week to week." I didn't really think of this until afterwards, but I should have asked "If the doctor's determine Alex is healthy when you get back to Santa Clara, will he be your starting QB against the Rams" (thanks to Tre9er for that suggestion). I'm sure Singletary would have weaved an answer working around it about not dealing with hypotheticals, but it's still an interesting question.
My prediction at this point is that the 49ers decide Smith won't be quite ready for the Rams game. That would then give the team a week and a half to implement their game plan for the Rams game and give Troy Smith an opportunity to put together a performance with some serious practice time. I think part of this prediction is wishful thinking. While I don't think we can determine Troy Smith's long term viability after one game, I really would love to see him get at least another start to build on this performance.
In a similar vain, I've got a question for the crowd that's been down on Troy Smith, or at least didn't see him as any kind of answer heading into yesterday's game. What have you viewed as Troy's negative attributes, and of those attributes what do you feel was confirmed in yesterday's game? Also, what negative attributes were proven wrong for at least one game?
I've included a poll to this and again it's not a question of what you want, but what you actually think will happen. Also, I've added Troy Smith's post-game transcript after the jump...
TROY SMITH: I missed passes through the course of the game, and sometimes things aren't going to be the exact way that you wanted them to. The reason we came out today was to get into a rhythm and be in a rhythm.Even though we missed some things early on, when the rhythm was put in place for us to make some plays later on, and sometimes through the course of the game, things just don't happen the way that you want them to.You have to be able to keep your head down and stay even-keeled. As a quarterback, the game plan is the game plan and you have to execute it.
TROY SMITH: Ohio State has 100,000-plus fans every week, you know what I mean? But I understand where you're coming from. I understand exactly where you're coming from, and I think Frank hit it right on the head.This trip was a tremendous trip. The people here in London are incredible people --some of the most cordial people that you'll ever meet. I've done nothing but have a great time since I've been here. Obviously the fans love football, United States football, just as much as we do. And I've had a tremendous time over here. The fans made it a good time.But the butterflies were out pretty early. My offensive line did a tremendous job of helping me calm down a little bit and get into the flow of the game.
TROY SMITH: The play that was designed was pretty much three verticals down the field. Denver had been playing single high, and they do an incredible job of pressuring you and being able to play man behind it. Delanie Walker was a tight end/receiver/fullback/special teams player of the week -- all of the above. He is one of the guys that offensively helped me throughout the week game planning,my whole preparation.I told him, if I get into a situation where I have to look for a guy, it's going to be you,because he helped me so much throughout the weekend. He came up with a tremendous play right there. The offensive line did a great job withholding up and the rest is what you saw.
TROY SMITH: What we work on here is to throw to our guy away from theirs, so it doesn't matter. If there's a slight, tight hole that you can put the ball in, I trust that my guy is going to comedown with the ball. I trust that my guys are going to come down with the ball.As a passer, I think that your receivers respect you a little bit more when you let them know that you're going to trust them.
TROY SMITH: I mean, that's not bad that really isn't. But to compare myself to Brett is doing Brett a disservice. I've got a long way to go to even come close to being mentioned in any type of same sentence with him. He made it so I can play the game, so I definitely have to show homage in that respect. But I appreciate the compliment.
Q. Can you talk about the scrambling situation as a quarterback?
TROY SMITH: The scrambling situations come when you try to make a play. Through the course of my life I've always been taught that my arm is just as much of a valuable weapon as my legs. They've definitely done an incredible job with keeping me on a teeter totter, keeping things equally sound, whether it's pass and run or giving me the chance and opportunity to make a play. Without Coach Singletary, though, I wouldn't be in this situation. I know he probably took a lot of slack with his decision. Him being the emotional leader, emotional man that he is, he does nothing but help any and everybody around him. The standard of excellence that has been portrayed here and set up by Coach Singletary is just that. It's a trusting thing. As long as he knows that you have his back, he's going to have yours,and without him none of this is possible.
TROY SMITH: Right. Well, it wasn't me. I said it time and time again. As a quarterback, you execute the game plan. You execute the plays that are called. I don't have any say with the passes or runs that are called.They do a tremendous job with game planning. Not only that but overseeing things.When I'm on the field, they're looking out from the box. Whatever Coach Mike Johnson is going to call is what we're going to run, and we're going to execute it.
TROY SMITH: I think the first time I stood smack in the middle of Piccadilly Circus. There is a lot of stuff going on around here. There's a lot of people.That's what I'm saying. You would think that a big city, a lot of people -- it would be a lot of crazy things going on. It just seems that everybody's in a rush, too. Where's everybody going? I don't know yet. I'm having fun though, so I appreciate it.
TROY SMITH: It's definitely riding a fine line when I say this because I don't want to make it a contradiction. The things that happened to me in the past happened to me for a reason. Everything that is happening to me now is happening for a reason. I'm not going to attach anything from the past with the future. I'm a 49er now, and that is the only thing that I'm worrying about. Everything else in the past is done, and we're going to move forward now.
TROY SMITH: There is no doubt about it.You can check any video game that I play, I'm the starting quarterback now (laughing).
TROY SMITH: I would like to say that, but I'm not going to go down that road. I think the coaching staff does a tremendous job of putting the players and the guys in a situation and in the position to make plays. We're going to play it by week and they'll let me know what's going on.But we're going to enjoy tonight, have some fun, hopefully, in Piccadilly Circus and be okay.
TROY SMITH: I wouldn't say to get the guys to understand that I'm 100% in it. I think the only way that all the guys could really have that understanding is by making plays. And that goes back to my preparation.I'm going to continue to prepare. That's my only salvation. That's the only thing that makes me comfortable with the game plan. But definitely,going out there and trying to make a play for the guys. It's a long flight with a loss, so we should feel good now.