If you haven't already seen the excellent video chronicling Alex Smith's career as it leads into and informs last season, then drop whatever you are doing and watch it. So excellent. So electrifying. Absolutely amazing. Be warned, the video is 20 minutes long. I've posted it after the jump.
What is interesting about the video, though, is how it contributes to one particular construction of the Alex Smith narrative. In my mind, there are two ways of "reading" Alex's career up to this point. Both promote a way of understanding his play and projecting his performance going forward.
The first narrative is the type presented in the video: Alex Smith had a rough start to his career, but after five to six years of mainly disappointment, he has finally turned a corner and will keep getting better and better until he is the man everybody thought when he was drafted number one overall. This view is largely predicated upon his relationship with Jim Harbaugh. Because of Harbaugh's expertise as a coach and his willingness to believe in Alex unlike anybody before, Alex has reached a new level of success. This narrative sees last year as the foundation of future success. Alex will build off of his undeniably good season and take a step close to "elite" next year.
There is another way of thinking about Alex Smith's career up to this point, though. The second narrative understands that after six or so years, we have already seen what Alex Smith has to offer - we have seen who he is as a QB. Last season, more than likely, was a career year for the man, and in the future we can expect him to regress to the mean; that is, we should expect him to be more like the QB of before than the QB of last year.
I'm not going to be able to resolve this question. Nobody can, really. I do, however, eagerly wait to see which narrative is correct. I think it more prudent to believe in the second while earnestly hoping for the first.
Alex Smith Video