When it mattered most, he delivered. The man, nearly run out of town prior to the year's start, is now much to thank for the 49ers first playoff victory in a near decade. A level of confidence in the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers has been instilled in fans for the first time since Alex Smith's arrival in 2005, as Smith came through in the direst of situations. Down three points with a mere minute and change remaining on the play clock, and with only one timeout remaining, the door seemed to be closing on the 49ers' 13-3 season. With eighty-five yards to travel, a 49ers win could only be delivered by Alex Smith; he would have to manufacture a seamless drive if the 49ers were to emerge victorious.
What happened next debatably redeemed Alex Smith's image and his prior years of perpetual mediocrity in a 49er uniform. A seven play drive, the work of a confident, changed man behind center, will forever alter the image of Alex Smith in the eyes of those faithful to the 49ers. The former #1 overall pick's time in the spotlight was an opportunity not wasted, as with the game in his hands, Smith completed five of six pass attempts for eighty-five yards and a touchdown. Vernon Davis falling across the goal line into the freshly painted red end zone ball in hands, a ball delivered by "game managing" Alex Smith.
It's safe to say that the term "game manager" will no longer be mentioned in the same breath as the words "Alex Smith". Pegged as a "game managing" quarterback by the media earlier this year, Alex Smith's performance against the Saints justifies that term to never again be associated with his style of play. A game manager does not guide his team to a playoff win. Nor does he lead his team to two touchdown scoring drives in the last four minutes of a game or throw for 299 yards, three touchdowns and a 103.2 quarterback rating, all of which Alex Smith did. The maturation process of a quarterback takes some time, and with the effort turned in against the Saints, it appears that Alex Smith has reached that point.
Making it blatantly obvious that he is the long term answer at the quarterback position, Alex Smith is largely responsible for the 49ers advancing to what will be their first appearance in the NFC championship game since the 1997 season. I am thoroughly impressed with Alex Smith's poise and confidence throughout the most crucial drive of his seven year career. Visions of Alex throwing his classic inopportune interception indeed must have briefly entered the psyche of 49ers fans when the clock read 1:37 and the scoreboard 32-29 in favor of the Saints. Those unpleasant memories and the prior displeasure with the play of Smith is all water under the bridge, as the drives orchestrated by Alex Smith redeemed his career.
Visions of #11 leading the game winning drive of a playoff game at Candlestick Park entered the minds of 49ers fans in 2005, when San Francisco made Alex Smith the #1 overall pick. Those visions would be made a reality, albeit seven years down the road. The wait has been a long one. Filled with perpetual losing and immense disappointment the past seven years with Alex Smith at quarterback were tough. Fans of the 49ers: enjoy this victory; revel in the success of your quarterback, for he has finally lived up to the expectations that go hand-in-hand with the #1 overall pick. With a matchup against either the Green Bay Packers or the New York Giants just around the corner, San Francisco football fans should sleep easy after seeing the true capabilities of their quarterback and team leader, Alex Smith.
Date: January 16, 2012 at 1:17 PM
Comment: Smith and Rogers look like they could be brothers...
By: Dallas Niner Fan
Date: January 16, 2012 at 1:04 PM
Comment: Please, if I hear another announcer say I am not totally sold on Alex Smith I am going to puck. I hope this shuts them up. You know Alex could have went to another team a long time ago but he wanted to finish what he started in San Francisco and that my friends is called integrity. One of the traits of a true leader. I was also sick of hearing that Alex would never win a shot out with a QB like Drew Brees. Wrong again Nay-sayers. Go Niners.
Date: January 16, 2012 at 7:28 AM
Comment: I'm so happy for Alex...Vernon said it best after the game, calling him "a warrior". He truly is...but I'll add another word...and that's classy. He's such a classy person, it's easy to understand why his teammates and Coach Harbaugh love him so much. He's been through more than just about any QB that comes to mind...yet, he persevered and has come out the other side. For sure, Harbaugh's the key...he showed the confidence in Alex and has him playing some great football. His numbers will arguably never rival those of Brees, Brady or Rodgers, but he's a winner, make absolutely no mistake about it...and our team is every so lucky to have him.
Date: January 16, 2012 at 6:30 AM
Comment: To all of the Alex haters, just shut and find another team! He is the QB of the future. I can't wait to see him next year with a full offseason, an up grade WR (maybe Desean Jackson), and a second year the SAME OC!!!
Date: January 15, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Comment: I always wanted him to shine and he did. I wanted him gone for years now but thats in the past. its like the kid always getting picked but finally stood up and kicked the bullys ass,now he has respect and self confidence. thanks coach for working your magic on alex. now lets make these giants migits and win the Super Bowl!!! Last but not big ups to the defense and Vernon Davis,Crabtree please step up and catch the ball. Kyle Williams needs to be involve with all that speed. 49ers for life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
By: Bobby Moore
Date: January 15, 2012 at 7:47 PM
Comment: I have always stuck with alex smith because I saw the potential and Jim Harbaugh just harnessed it and put it all together. Alex Smith's and Jim Harbaugh's relationship is the main reason for Alex Smith's maturation.
By: MS Niner Fan
Date: January 15, 2012 at 3:47 PM
Comment: I cried for the first time since 1997 when young throw "The Catch II" to T.O. I was a great game and it will ever live in our memories. I also remember after that emotional win over the Packers we lost to Atlanta. We can cheerish this for a week, but don't quit now. I have this feeling like nothing is good enough for this years 9ers team and I want everyone to see how Alex doesn't have to put up all those flashy numbers. He actually has a D fence that can control the game. As you have see several times this year though when he is called upon to win games what has he done? He has had 5 come from behind victories this year. So keep under rating us and talk about all those flashy QB's putting up record setting numbers, because only one thing matters at the end of the season is who is holding that trophy!
9ers 4 life!
Date: January 15, 2012 at 10:51 AM
Comment: " We" 49er faithful need to admit the obvious!! For all
of Alex smith's travails these past few years, the real
problem was not ALL Alexs Smith! The real problem was
the front office and coaching!!!
Date: January 15, 2012 at 8:44 AM
Comment: It's a little hard for me to write, with all the crow in my mouth, after crying that Alex Smith was THE reason for the 49ers inept play of the last several years. Alex Smith played what had to be the best game of his career, on the bigest stage of his life, with the most at stake. What a game for the entire 49ers organization, players and fans. Green Bay or New York will be looking forward to next week's game with a little more trepidation than before. Go niners.
Date: January 15, 2012 at 7:33 AM
Comment: I've been a member of the niner nation for over 40 years through thick and thin. I have coached football at the high school level for over 25 years and have a thorough understanding of the game. I never felt that Alex Smith was our franchise QB, though I could clearly see he was a good athlete. It's time for me to "eat crow." This season I have seen an evolution FROM an insecure, poorly coached, underdeveloped, third rate quarterback TO a skilled, confident, well rounded, decisive, wise, field general who has proven, even to "non-believers," he is worthy of recognition in the tradition of greatness set by Y.A., Joe, and Steve in our teams illustrious history. He has finally reached his potential as a number ONE pick and I am now proud to admit I'm sorry I misjudged him.
By: true niner
Date: January 14, 2012 at 8:22 PM
Comment: Been awhile thank u
Date: January 14, 2012 at 7:49 PM
Comment: Actually I heard Deion say the 49ers would beat the saints BECAUSE of Alex smith. Jamie dukes is the next on the eat crow list.
By: Harry Peterson
Date: January 14, 2012 at 7:37 PM
Comment: Wow! I've been a niner fan a long time.I remember watching the Clark catch on T.V. The kind of game Davis had was magical, the defensive play was aggressive, special teams were undiscribable, Smiths play was a big thank you to his coach for beleving. Now on to the championship with team of believers.
Date: January 14, 2012 at 7:26 PM
Comment: If he doesn't perform next week they will still call him a game manager and even if he does play well, Dieon Sanders will hate on him and so will most of those POS "Analysts" on ESPN and NFLN that are Bandwagoners, they have been talking trash on us all season without actually knowing anything.