"If Alex makes it in San Francisco, that would be truly unique,'' said former Baltimore head coach Brian Billick, who served as the color analyst for FOX in San Francisco's 24-21 loss at Houston on Sunday, and watched first-hand as Smith re-started his career with three touchdown passes in 30 minutes. "You just don't get that second chance really with the same team. You typically have to go someplace else and start over. Is that going to happen here? We don't know yet. But Alex was brilliant Sunday.''
Interestingly, Billick made a point of how much against the Texans the "new'' Alex Smith played like the "old'' Alex Smith from his high-flying spread-offense days at Utah. Forced to open it up by the 21-point halftime deficit, the 49ers gave their fans a taste of what might be possible in a quick-strike offense built around the first-round talents of Smith, Davis and rookie receiver Michael Crabtree, with the added benefit of play-makers such as running back Frank Gore, second-year receiver Josh Morgan and veteran pass-catcher Isaac Bruce.
"I was very impressed with Michael Crabtree in [his first game],'' Billick said. "He's ahead of the curve. And with what they have there now, I think they have the pieces to run that kind of offense. Gore is a solid, single-back runner who doesn't really need a fullback. If you want to give Smith the best chance to succeed, that may be the way you have to go. What you saw from Alex Smith last Sunday, that's the Alex Smith we saw in college. That's his game.''
"Mike likes to anchor the offense around Gore, and that's Mike's persona right now,'' Billick said. "They spent a lot of time in the offseason and in camp saying, 'This is who we are. This is our mentality, and we have Frank Gore to run the ball with.' Do I think they'll change it? No. And I think they're going to lose because of it. In this day and age, more than ever in the league, you've got to have a quarterback.
"On Sunday, you saw what Alex Smith does well. He doesn't have a huge arm, but he's smart and fairly efficient with the ball. That lends itself to spreading things out. It's about giving your quarterback as many options as possible, and then letting him find the open man.''
"Can Mike [Singletary] give himself over to the so-called dark side?'' Billick said. "Can he say, 'I saw a style of play that can suit my quarterback, and we may have the complementary players to make that offense work,' and then embrace it? Or do they shove him in the I-formation and ask him to play that style? Because I'm not sure Alex Smith can prosper in that system any more than Warner did in New York, where you limit his options and ask him to make the big throw. I don't know that's who this guy [Smith] is, and he hasn't been to date.''
This is what I have always believed about Alex. He can succeed but we have been trying to plug him in the wrong system. Why do you try to put a square peg into a round hole? Why not just try to put a square peg in a square hole?
Warner is a good example. He's been terrible in certain offenses and excellent when in an offense that spreads out the WR's and gives a lot of options. He's been to a few Super Bowls to prove that. And he has won the Super Bowl. You can win in the NFL with that style.
Are we trying to fit Alex into something that is the wrong fit for him? And have we been doing that for years? And should we change to fit what he is good at? And what Crabtree also comes from and is comfortable with BTW.
[ Edited by SanDiego49er on Oct 29, 2009 at 10:24 PM ]