Many of the news stories we read after the fact are run of the mill summaries or commentaries on the just-completed game. But after Alex Smith-gate I can't help but read into some of the comments the players make after the game or some of the observations the press, who spend an awful lot of time around the players, make.

In reading this weeks summaries and post game quotes, I couldn't help but feel bad for Alex Smith. This team is starved for a leader that doesn't dress in suits on game days. They have plenty of veterans, and plenty of player-coaches (see: Trent Dilfer). The team seems to lack a true outspoken leader, though.

Sure, the team has outspoken players (see: Vernon Davis) but rarely are those players seen as leaders. The unquestioned leader in the locker room, Bryant Young, is more on the quiet side, not to mention close enough to retirement to inadvertently get a pension check instead of a game check.

In comes Shaun Hill. Here is what the team had to say (emphasis added for effect by this columnist):

Tackle Joe Staley: "We've all known he is a natural leader. We see it every day in practice...After everything that's been going on with this team, tonight was really good. The one thing about this whole team you can say is, no matter what, we've never given up."

Receiver Darrel Jackson: "I like his swagger, the way he carries himself. He's very confident he can make every pass on the field, and it shows. He's a great leader. Guys really, really like playing with him. " Jackson was quoted in a second article as saying: "I've been waiting to get fed like that since I've been here." And in yet another article: "I thank Shaun Hill and the coaches for calling my number a lot tonight."

Running Back Frank Gore:"Shaun is very hungry. He gave us a shot."

Tight End Vernon Davis:"I just love him. I felt comfortable around him ."

And finally from Mark Purdy, who admittedly has been critical of Nolan all season: "For the first time since the season opener, laughter was actually heard in the home locker room."

Sure, you can chalk up the laughter and tomfoolery between players as part of the post game euphoria. But call me paranoid, I just can't get over the language used in praising Hill.

The team seem to be saying "FINALLY! A freakin' LEADER! Take the reigns and lets go!"

Even Hill sounded like a confident starter, saying all the right things, praising the right people, and celebrating his touchdowns the right way - by letting his offensive line take the fun parts.

All these comments simply cement the fact that Smith is not seen as a team leader by his peers. (see: Smith's inability to earn a team captain spot, something voted on by players). More so than injuries or poor play, a lack of leadership could spell doom for the 49ers development as a team.

Whether or not Hill continues to shine, one thing is clear: If Smith (and by extension, Nolan) is to succeed in San Francisco he needs to assert himself in the locker room. Smith needs to fill the leadership void that Hill so easily filled.

Even more so than coaching or talent, the team needs a leader on the field. The post game quotes are pretty clear - Hill is that leader. Smith is not.