Troy Smith Isn’t The Savior, But He’s The Best We’ve Got

Nov 3, 2010 at 10:08 AM


Troy Smith played the best complete game by a 49ers quarterback this season. He wasn't perfect, by any stretch. Some of his throws were inaccurate. Denver has an atrocious pass defense, ranked near the bottom of the league in defensive DVOA by Football Outsiders. And if Brian Dawkins picks off the prayer... um I mean throw... that Smith launched to Delanie Walker, we might all be singing a different tune.

When it counted, Troy Smith did the things that a starting quarterback should do. He made the right reads, allowed the receivers to continue running after the catch with well placed throws, and he created opportunities when the play broke down.

You can read his stats in various locations so I wont repeat them here. There were two things that really impressed me about Smith that the stats will not show. He commanded a team that needed some leadership and he has some definite physical tools.

Singletary is right when he says that the team has no offensive leadership. Sing himself is too much of an emotional roller coaster and he wouldn't be able to provide much offensive guidance anyway. The supposed leader, Alex Smith, had to be convinced to fight a benching against the Eagles.

So what did Troy Smith do? He calmed the huddle down and provided a bit of calm through chaos. According to Joe Staley in an interview on 107.7 with Lamont and Tonelli, Smith was getting yelled at from the sideline by multiple people due to a personnel mix-up. People are yelling and screaming and Smith looks at the huddle and says something like, "I've got a really simple solution to all this..." and looks to the Referee and calls a timeout. He inputs pressure, spits out calm, and allows the rest of his team to just play.

He is also not afraid to tell people what they need to be doing. Smith had three days of practice with the starters and yet he still forcefully corrected Frank Gore on his alignment on a play in the third quarter. Sure, it may seem like small detail, but thus far the 49ers are used to a quarterback who needed a full year in a system before he started being vocal about assignments.

Coupled with leadership, Smith put his physical tools on display against the Broncos. He is the most athletic quarterback on the roster and he proved that on a couple of plays. On one of those plays, Smith rolled out to his left and saw Jason Hunter bearing down on him. Smith stopped mid-roll, pump faked then took off and hit Crabtree with a good ball to the left sideline. The ability to be crafty in that situation as well as stop and go, allowed Smith to keep a potentially broken play alive.

Smith has a faster release than I was expecting and he throws the ball with velocity. The tight spirals he was throwing around the field surprised me. He was able to his quick slants with seemingly little effort, and his touchdown pass to Crabtree was the right read (albeit the only downfield patter on the play) and Smith got the ball to the sideline quick enough to take advantage of Crabtree's move on the cornerback.

So let's give credit where it's due. I think Sing should still be fired after the season, but he made the right call in going with Troy Smith as opposed to David Carr. It was Singletary's best coaching decision this season. Which should also give you a glimpse into why I think he deserves the boot at season's end.

But Smith really capitalized on his opportunity. At this point, the 49ers have nothing to lose by riding the hot hand. Keep starting Tory Smith and, if he is able to deliver (which I think he will be) the 49ers might actually make a late season push into respectability.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


3 Comments

  • biggiepooner
    Troy Smith played okay. Consider for a moment he played against the Bronco's that gave up 59 pts to Oakland??? Are you that impressed? He came in with no expectations. It's a lot different than having the entire 49er nation wanting to take your head off. (i.e Alex Smith) Alex Smith is better. Plain and simple. He has better mechanics, he has a stronger arm, and makes better decisions. Troy Smith will be exposed. He was released from Baltimore for a reason. God they thought Bulger was a better back up. The 49er faithful make me sick sometimes. Fair weather fans is a perfect summary. Alex has made bad decisions. Nobody debates that. But the 49ers have had a tough schedule and they still had chances to win games at Atlanta, against NO, and the Panthers. Stop being idiotic. When Troy starts to stumble, and I assure you he will, I'll be there laughing.
    Nov 5, 2010 at 2:35 PM
    0
    Response: I agree, he played against a defense that isn't exactly lighting the NFL on fire. And I agree that T. Smith didn't play the most amazing 4 quarters of football, but he played a better COMPLETE game than we've seen from Captain Consistency (Sarcasm alert!) Alex Smith. Better mechanics? A. Smith locks his front leg which causes his passes to sail. He also has a slower release. Better decisions? Why, because he throws the ball away when his first read isn't there? Because he dumps it off rather than take a shot? There's a reason his per pas average is near the bottom of the NFL. He plays with too much caution. Stronger Arm? Maaaaaaybe. But Smith has plenty of velocity and throws a tight spiral. He has an arm good enough to hit the sideline. And his pass to Walker while falling backwards shows all the arm strength he needs. Like I said, T. Smith isn't our savior. But he's the best we've got.
  • ninersush
    i dont mind the play of smith at all. i hope the kid does well. i'm just worried that we'll see a redux of shaun hill. a situation where we win just enough, keep sing as the coach, don't draft a QB, and suffer another terrible season. as long as Sing is fired at the end of the season and we draft a QB high that is a franchise QB, get in the proper WCO minded staff, a GM i am ok w troy. only problem with improving our record and making a run for the playoffs is that long term it does not get us where we need to be. and that is to have a franchise QB. and worse what if Sing is retained. so given that i'd rather lose out, get rid of Sing, Alex, Carr, and remainder of coaches. Start new w Troy as our starter, a new and good coaching staff in place, and a shiny new franchise QB on the wood learning while Troy holds his seat warm. Then insert the kid sometime next season to see what he can do. Hopefully we will have a Bradford/Freeman/Flaco after 2011 draft.
    Nov 3, 2010 at 12:11 PM
    0
    Response: Fair point. I can really see that happening too. The only problem is having a shot at a legit Bradford-type QB means we need to have a top pick. I just don't see that happening. At the very least T. Smith is going to get another start and if he sets the world on fire we will have more to "worry" about. Incidentally, are we so bad that we actually DON'T WANT TO WIN just so we can fire our coach? I think we are.
  • GazUK
    Having been at the game i have to say i was impressed with Troy's poise, he carried himself very well. I noticed the moment with Gore when he grabbed him and dragged him to the other side of the formation. He seemed to play within himself for much of the game except for the Delanie Walker catch at the 1 where it was almost Favre'esque but sometimes fortune favours the brave. He's done enough to merit a few more starts and a more aggresive gameplan.
    Nov 3, 2010 at 12:00 PM
    0
    Response: That prayer to Walker is exactly the throw that Alex Smith doesn't make. not because he can't, but just because throwing into double coverage isn't all that smart. I guess sometimes you just have to throw it up. When it results in an INT people will be calling for his head.

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