This was a game for the ages this past Sunday as we all watched with great expectations as to the new wave of energy that has suddenly gripped this team with the second unveiling of new San Francisco 49er quarterback Troy Smith. Just one week ago overseas in London, England before many thousands of English football fans he made a great quarterback controversy happen with his victory over the Denver Broncos. This time he made a great legal statement in cementing himself as the real undisputed starting quarterback of this franchise based upon sheer will, extraordinary self-confidence, great athletic ability and tenacity to fight till the very end.
Despite fourteen referee called penalties four of them game stoppers in reversing an interception and three touchdowns in our opponents red zone, Troy Smith rallied his troops to play for yet another drive right after the other until we had forced the game to be decided at home in Candlestick in overtime. Troy Smith faced what no quarterback ever wants to face the ultimate despair in a game being behind in the score with precious time running out on the clock. We were in a dire straits situation as we faced a third-and-32 from our own 47-yard line with just 2:30 left to play in regulation.
To be honest and all the players in the locker room will agree, they wouldn't want anyone but Troy Smith to help dig them out of the enormous hole they were facing in this very desperate situation. San Francisco 49er veteran linebacker Takeo Spikes made the best indication that the facts really just speak for themselves as with Troy we are (2-0) on the season with zero turnovers and with Alex we might not be where we are right now. Spikes spoke as a 13-year veteran and the 49ers have only won 1-of-6 games that Alex Smith has actually started as our quarterback. Momentum means everything to a team that is trying to dig itself out of the division cellar.
Frank Gore the main focal point of our entire offense spoke in length about the character and ability of Troy Smith as bringing a new element of danger as an offense to be respected. Troy Smith shows a willingness to air the ball out in which he did averaging 12.7 yards per pass attempt, the highest by a 49ers quarterback dating all the way back to Steve Young in 1997.
Taking a risk is what Troy Smith lives for. Believing in his supporting offensive cast around him he talks about all the playmakers he has at his disposal on any given Sunday. He shows public recognition to his players and a great deal of respect to those that are around him as he attributes all of our success on their backs believing that forward momentum can only be sustained by those leaders willing to take chances. I am a firm believer that with this type of personality and a mature type of analysis of oneself, Troy is going to be more successful than he already gives credit to those around him ending with him last.
When Troy hit Frank Gore on 3-32 from our 47-yard line making it 4-18 from the St. Louis 39-yard line I was still very much in doubt that we had a legitimate chance to reach the first down marker. But as he did before he hit Frank Gore who converted 23 total yards to end at the St. Louis 16-yard line and helped set-up the go ahead touchdown to Michael Crabtree that left everyone's jaw agape. This very situation with Alex Smith at the helm would've never been possible based upon his many deficiencies he has registered as a quarterback under pressure and in need of a miracle.
Troy Smith unites the locker room gives San Francisco 49er fans new hope and inspiration and allows the coaches to breath just a little lighter knowing that they have someone that can and will fight to the very end. Mike Singletary can sidestep the quarterback issue all he wants and not make any kind of indication that he is solidly behind Troy in sticking with him for the remainder of the season. But the one thing he can't ignore is what he is witnessing out on the field and the new wave of optimism that has gripped the entire roster by the throat in making them realize that we still have plenty of fight left.
The San Francisco 49er offense put up 421 total yards of pure offense on the field but struggled horribly on converting third downs going 0-for-11 and was penalized 14 times for a loss of 105 total yards most of which were very careless mistakes playing right at home before a friendly home crowd. As each of the three touchdowns were nullified because of careless penalties the players in the huddle began to unravel right before Troy Smith's eyes in thinking that the game was very much in jeopardy. Troy spoke charismatically to all of them and kept his players level headed as he broke each huddle to assume his position behind center all over again.
In fact Troy Smith finished the game with a passer rating of 116.7 and threw for 356 total yards and one touchdown going 17-of-28 in pass attempts. He was sacked five total times with some of those sacks he took ownership of in not getting rid of the ball fast enough and others appeared to be a breakdown on the right side with rookie Anthony Davis getting beat on more than one occasion. Left tackle Joe Staley suffered an injury that he was carted off the field for, but came back out and played only to break his leg and be out for most of the remainder of this season. Tony Wragge was called upon to take his place and did so with great candor.
Despite taking the San Francisco 49ers on a 55-yard drive in overtime to give kicker Joe Nedney a chance to kick the game-winning field goal, Troy Smith made the assumption he still has a lot to improve and that he would love to have some of his throws back if he could to make the proper adjustments. Smith used his legs and his keen sense of location of his receivers to propel the offense to excellence making one key throw right after another, sometimes breaking the pocket and finding a crease that he would run through if need be to keep drives alive.
And let's give credit to defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and the San Francisco defense in overtime knowing that they had to either force a turnover and or make them go three and out. Doing the later helped save the game for us as Troy Smith simply took over and did all the rest. Sack master Justin Smith got his hands on St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and linebacker Patrick Willis registered 11 total tackles. Our defense also made sure that the Rams had a tough time on third down conversions as they only converted 2-of-14.
We must ride the wave of the Troy Smith momentum as we take on the unpredictable Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Again a victory is a must as we stay in the race for a division that is turned upside down without any real victor at this time to really talk about. We have to strongly consider as the remainder of this season unfolds and with a few more victories under his helmet that Troy Smith get the just nod from Mike Singletary that he deserves with undisputed control of the offense and real confirmation that he is and will be our starting quarterback until further notice at this time, as the Alex Smith experiment has been a Frankenstein project almost from the very beginning of his drafting.
Sources of Information: Mercury News.com, SF Gate.com, Inside Bay Area.com, NFL.com and my own personal analysis and opinion.