Ok - so he's improved this year (or, said better, his results have improved). And my expectations of him have been realistic all season - he's no Joe, or Steve...or even a Jeff, for that matter. Great - we look to be going into the playoffs. But is a one-and-out post-season enough for us? Heck no - we have a Super Bowl calibre Defense and one of the top running backs & tight ends in the league. And while our recievers aren't Top Shelf, they have been pretty darned proficient as of late. We have a real shot at something special here this year. But Alex's play cost us the game last night and that's inexcusable, regardless of our record, and it bodes poorly for our chances to advance in the playoffs.
He holds on to the ball way too long. He doesn't have the quick release the elites do - and for some reason his internal clock doesn't tick. The announcers call sacks like that "coverage sacks", but not in Alex's case. More often than not, his slow decisioning causes the sack. It's like he's a deer in headlights. He fixates on the developing routes and waits too long to make a decision, then WHAM, down he goes.
I know many will blame the O Line...and they deserve their fair share of it, really. Especially the right side. But still, rewatch those sacks (and several other plays that didn't happen). They weren't all jail breaks. Alex just held it one or two seconds too long, and that's an eternity in the pocket. 3 Sacks belong to the OL, 6 belong to Alex. We could have overcome a 3-sack game. The additional 6 cost us the win.
He's always been that way. For the most part, the Niner play calling has minimized the impact this season. Not last night, though. The Ravens blitz package exposed it for the whole league to see...and, again, that bodes poorly for the rest of the season. Every team worth their salt will try the same thing against us for the rest of the year (ask Michael Vick about that). When facing top teams in the playoffs, we're in trouble.
Now I suppose I can blame the coaching staff for the play calling. 5-step drops were stupid. Sure, we were trying to look deep and get back in the game...but it obviously wasn't working. We should have gone to quick slants and dink-and-dunk stuff. At least on 1st and 2nd downs. And how about swinging Smith out to pass? I mean, the Ravens always knew where he was going to be...5 steps behind center. And I'm dumbfounded why we didn't try a traditional screen or two in an attempt to make them think and slow the rush. I'm not paid to coach football, so maybe I'm off-base...but I remember Walsh designing plays and game-plans that best fit the talent we had. I didn't see that last night.
Regardless, Alex is just good enough to disappoint and he proved it again last night. I'm confident there are few out there who think he's the answer, anyway, but I'd hoped his flaws could be overcome or compensated for by Harbaugh & Co.
Believe it or not, I'm not a neigh-sayer. My expectations are still high for our Niners and I'll still root for Alex to do well as long as he's our starting QB. But I'm convinced Alex remains our achilles heel and even though his results have improved, my fear is that he'll ultimately cost us another ring.