Driving around the street's of Phoenix somewhere near 1AM, I had a fleeting thought that blew up on my mind faster than something that moves very quickly: Could Jim Harbaugh end up having to make a case for Alex Smith as an elite top five quarterback this year? If you're as interested as I'm expecting you to be, the jump is going to allow you just enough time for you to let out that excited squeal before you continue reading...
Here's where my question took me: week 15, the 49ers are 10-4 and just clinched the division as the Seahawks at 7-7 can no longer catch them in the division. Through 14 games, the 49ers have overcome some injuries on the defensive side this year, leading to a need for more offensive production than 2011. Alex Smith's stat line looks something like 3600 yards, 25 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and only 18 sacks. To add more fuel to the fire in this crazy (if you comment something about how ridiculous this scenario is, you're so totally copying me) scenario, Alex has averaged 300 yards over the last three games, scoring 8 touchdowns to two interceptions.
And here is the fun part. We're taken to a post-game press conference, sitting at the table with the 49er backdrop behind him is Jim Harbaugh. I'll say it's Maiocco who asks a question to the effect of, "Did you really expect this level of play from Alex after playing catch with him soon after you took the job as the 49er's head coach?" In typical Jim Harbaugh fashion, he lays out how he's had nothing but support and belief in Alex since coming to the organization, then he posses a question that leaves everyone speechless:
"I think a bigger question here is why we haven't seen Alex anointed as the next 'elite quarterback'." Harbaugh muses, before fielding a few follow up questions with answers like "I think his play has spoken for itself over the last two seasons" and "I wish I had had a chance to play at as high a level as Alex has been playing the last few weeks".
Queue the argument. Elite? Alex Smith? What? Those of us with too much free time are now watching First Take and hear Skip Bayless commenting something to the effect of "I've only just admitted that I was wrong to call Alex a bust two years ago, so no, he's not an elite quarterback" then leading himself into something like, "Well, if he keeps playing the way he is now, of course he'll be an elite quarterback, but he doesn't have the track record I need to call him elite yet."
I feel like Skip is probably the best way to end my fantasy, since nothing makes me happier than him painfully trying not to be positive about my 49ers but failing miserably at it.
I'm going to pose one bigger question thought, then let you have fun running wild with my imagination.