Well, by the time this goes up (I'm writing it the night before), people will hopefully have had a chance to have calmed down from a rather bitter loss to the Tennessee Titans. At the very least, people will be at work and not screaming at their computer screens in anger. Personally, I tend to be angry about the game for a couple hours after it finishes before it subsides and I'm ready to move on. We've got plenty to discuss about the Titans game (and plenty of threads to do it in), and of course with the short week we've got the Bears to discuss as well.
This post really covers both games, and plenty more going forward. There were numerous complaints about yesterday's game, but the biggest was definitely the performance of Alex Smith. Smith finished 29/45 for 286 yards with 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions and 1 fumble. Not exactly a shining performance, and given the timing and results of the various turnovers, people were quick to jump all over Smith. And given his past performance, I don't think anybody could be surprised when people jumped all over our starting QB.
However, I also think that it is necessary to keep Smith in there and keep sending him out there. Barring an injury, the 49ers have an important opportunity at their disposal. They can finally decide one way or the other, what exactly Alex Smith brings to the table. Is he the guy who lit up Houston in the second half? Is he the guy who struggled against Indy, but kept his team in it? Or is he the guy who yacked it up late in the game against Tennessee? At this point he could be any one of those guys.
If Smith struggles the rest of the way, then finally you can cut bait, or at least know you've got nothing more than a second string QB. Cutting bait on Smith at this point would simply be too soon. Yes he struggled, and yes he's making some of the same mistakes he made two years ago. But he's also shown some skills and some improvement in his game. Maybe it's not enough to save his career in San Francisco, but I'd rather take my chances figuring that out over the next two months.
One big argument for switching things up in some manner (be it Shaun Hill or Nate Davis) is the idea that Smith is costing the 49ers wins and this team needs to be battling for a playoff spot. To those I say that at this point in time, Alex Smith gives the 49ers their best chance to win. This is where the chants of wins and losses come into play. Alex Smith did not make some bad plays to cost them the game, but I will go to my grave arguing that wins and losses are not a quarterback stat; they're team stats.
More after the jump...
I've posted a poll to see who people are lining up behind at this point in the season. We've heard clamoring for a lot of folks, although the Shaun Hill crowd has been relatively quiet. Alex Smith simply brings more athleticism to the quarterback position, which is necessary if you want to take advantage of the various weapons on display. When you've got guys like Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, or even potentially emerging Jason Hill and Josh Morgan, you need more than a game manager at the helm.
Shaun Hill simply cannot make the plays needed to have any sort of high octaine offense. He can make the occasional solid play to move the chains, but I believe Alex Smith can do that on a more consistent basis. This offense needs some level of consistency and at this point I'd rather see if Smith can do it. I simply see no upside at this point to Shaun Hill. Again, maybe Alex Smith just doesn't pan out after this season. But at least let's find out for sure.
One particularly expected reaction yesterday was from the Nate Davis crowd. Folks have clamored for him based on his preseason performance. While I do think Nate Davis is talented and could eventually be a starting-caliber NFL QB, I don't think that time is now. Plenty of good quarterbacks in this league sat out an entire season, if not more, before getting their crack at the starting lineup.
At this point, this turns into somewhat of a money decision, at least for 2009. When you've invested so much time and money into an asset, do you want to just dump it before being as close to 100% sure about it as possible? I'd imagine some folks are 100% sure Alex Smith is not the answer. At this point I'm still on the fence. I'm swaying towards dump him, but I think the wise course of action is to make certain.