One of the sites I check out first thing every morning is Rotoworld's 49ers team page. Due to their work with fantasy football, they provide a fairly comprehensive list of player news updates with some commentary about the particular news. The commentary isn't always spot on, but it can provide some discussion fodder. I mention this all because of some of their comments about Troy Smith making the start this Sunday:
49ers Week 8 starting quarterback Troy Smith's only practice reps have come with the scout team so far this season.
He's been used only to give the 49ers' defense "a look" on the practice field, running the opposition's offense. Playcaller Mike Johnson can't possibly have much confidence in the former Raven. Expect a decidedly run-first game plan against the Broncos at Wembley Stadium Sunday. Frank Gore should get a ton of work, but Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis take fantasy hits.
Smith signed with the 49ers on September 6, which means he's approaching two months now with the team. No matter how smart a guy might be, learning an NFL playbook takes time. And when you're not getting to practice those plays, it only makes it more difficult. After all, learning is often helped by actually doing. Watching other guys run plays certainly won't hurt, but it's not as big a help as running the plays yourself. I have to believe the team will be running a somewhat stripped down offense on Sunday to accommodate Smith.
Given all that, one really has to wonder how effective the offense can be in Smith's first start for the team. Maybe I'm just protecting myself from what might be inevitable disappointment. Is there any reason to think otherwise at this point? I suppose natural talent could provide a helping hand, but at the end of the day, all that natural talent got him cut by the Ravens.
It's entirely possible the change of scenery will be a difference-maker, but I've thought numerous changes would be difference-makers for the 49ers. Will I be proven wrong as the 49ers return to glory under Troy Smith? Please hold back your laughter.