How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Accept Alex Smith

Aug 23, 2011 at 6:22 AM

Needless to say, we've got some issues with the guy.

Of course they start with where he was drafted; there's nothing worse than wasting a top pick. Then there's the fact that our SECOND choice--who was just a little too cocky for us--is now a perennial Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl MVP, and the game's top-rated passer. (Ever.) And then there's this kind of battered-wife syndrome, now in its seventh year, that seems to keep us from just moving on. Whether we choose to place the blame on bad coaches or defensive coaches or too many coaches or whatever else, we just can't seem to close the book on Alex Smith.

This most recent chapter was particularly tough to accept. After last year's finale, Smith mocked the very THOUGHT of coming back. Under normal circumstances, as soon as free agency opened, he would've agreed to sit on some other team's bench. But, then, with home in sight, the owners opened their bag of winds, and there we were, again together, lost at sea.

There was hope, though. Matt Hasselbeck clearly was on his last legs--his recent stats were worse than Smith's--but the playoffs showed he was still legit. A proven winner in the West Coast Offense, he would've kept Smith on OUR bench, if not someone else's. He would've built the perfect bridge for Colin Kaepernick. And, most of all, he would've stamped the Jim Harbaugh era as truly what it should've been: a fresh start, for all of us.

Harbaugh said that "we thought we had a guy there in free agency," obviously Hasselbeck, "and [it] didn't work out." (Oops; Harbaugh must've forgotten the company line, that our second-wave surge was the plan all along.) For his part, Hasselbeck said that we came awfully close. But, in the end, instead of landing the perfect bridge, we landed a guy with six passes in the last three NFL seasons. A guy who was coaching high school, for cryin' out loud. A guy whose only bridge would lead us back to Alex Smith.

All this backdrop led us to Saturday, and here's perhaps the WORST part.

As Smith drove the Niners up and down the field--with a big assist from an offensive line that was vastly improved, at least for now--I just couldn't sympathize with the cheering masses. Of course I savored our offensive might, though an early touchdown or two would've helped. But when I focused on Smith himself, processing his display of competence, all I felt was uneasiness, a disquieting here-we-go-again.

We've seen this SO many times already. Smith shows us a great drive, a great quarter, a great half. This time, most notably, he dropped back, he sensed the rush, and instead of running for the hills, he stood tall and fired a strike, just before taking a punishing hit. And just as you're about to think that maybe it'll be different now, he goes and shows you it won't. This time, like so many others, he locked onto his target, watched him all the way, and threw a pass into the gut of a defensive player he'd never seen.

"That's a correctable thing," Harbaugh insisted. "I know why it happened. We've got to do a little better job with our eyes. And [Smith] knew it. We'll get that corrected."

Coach, no one thinks more of you than I do. But for Alex Smith, it's just too late.

For me, this Smith dissonance has reached a critical mass. On the one hand, I've had enough. Enough of this will-he-or-won't-he charade. Sure, he seems like a decent guy. But I'm just exhausted, and thus I struggle to root for him, lest he somehow trick us again.

On the other hand, though, it's Harbaugh's team now. Last year, I had no trouble watching Smith contribute to a coach's failure. But I've thrown my emotional weight behind Harbaugh, and Harbaugh has thrown his own behind Smith. Like it or not, you can't root for one without rooting for the other.

And there's something else. For years we've looked at our offensive weapons and said, "If only we had a quarterback." But as Saturday showed, those offensive weapons are now very serious. With a properly motivated Braylon Edwards joining Vernon Davis and (a healthy?) Michael Crabtree, and with Kendall Hunter looking like a perfect complement to (a non-trade-demanding?) Frank Gore, we can't be worrying about whether Smith will once again avoid the hook. With the defense looking strong again, it all comes down to this: if Smith and the line play consistently well--though of course there's no reason to think that they will--this team will contend, immediately.

It seemed like a perfect dilemma. Do I root for Smith, when his middling success might induce us to give him ANOTHER "last chance"? Or do I root against him, when his failure will decimate Harbaugh's ambitions?

Then out of the blue it struck me. A way out.

After six years, we're conditioned to look at Smith as one thing, and one thing only: an abject bust of a franchise QB. That's a label he'll never escape, of course. But now, for the first time, we're not asking him to BE a franchise QB. There's a NEW franchise QB in town.

I keep hearing that Kaepernick's "raw," and I suppose he is. Certainly, in the long run, a redshirt year would serve him best. But experience aside, he's not much worse than Smith right now, if indeed he's worse at all. So Smith will beat out Kaepernick THIS year, if just so the rookie can watch and learn. But next year Smith won't stand a chance. Next year Kaepernick will win.

It's time for us to see Smith for what he is, not what he was supposed to be. He's just a bridge, and nothing more. He's not the PERFECT bridge, by any means; he's still young, and he's got more baggage than a family of five. (He's also, of course, not particularly good.) But a bridge indeed is all he is. It doesn't matter whether he wins. Next year, when Kaepernick's ready, Smith will be gone, no matter what.

So go ahead. Root for him.

If Alex Smith wins, we've got nothing to lose.
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.


  • Mark Heatherton
    Edmond- I couldn't have said it better!!!
    Sep 26, 2011 at 1:00 AM
  • edmond
    Man, I wish you'd put your time and little brains into dissecting the Offensive Line's mistakes. Or maybe I'm glad you don't. I suppose it's your job during hobby time, or when you get angry, to bash the hell out of Alex Smith. You, like all the other tools on this negative site, take the easy way out and beat the dead horse. I would personally diagnose Smith's career here, as an observer and an actual 49er fan (unlike you), that if Smith doesn't turn into any kind of championship QB during his stay with the 49ers, he had simply been failed by his organization the first 7 years. Nice big paragraphs, though. Your small-minded wit and pretend intelligence shine brightly since you don't misspell any words and use punctuation. All we want as 49er fans is for our team to win. It kills me knowing that there are fans that have no hope. Not at all. Only blame and a fist full of stupid words to sling at the first name anyone can think of. Too many names on the O Line to dish out, I guess? In the Eagles game, there were far too many mistakes before Smith's happened. Can't bring yourself to blame Gore for his two fumbles? It's a team sport.
    Aug 30, 2011 at 12:38 AM
  • louie
    This must be an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
    Aug 29, 2011 at 7:59 PM
  • Dan
    Actually Terry B. That was a pretty weak comeback. But nice try anyway. You're welcome for the introduction to the urban dictionary, now you have another resource to use to harass people on the internet. I can only hope maybe you'll learn something about the real world along the way. Anyway, you're a hater. I know you're a hater, because you hate. You convey hatred every time I see a post of yours on this blog. You reek of hatred. Everyone else here manages to keep pretty much to their own opinions and observations, and all you ever do is try to knock them down. You add nothing to the conversation, you only attempt to subtract the ideas you don't agree with. Terry B., you ARE a hater. Don't try to wiggle your way out of it. You can try to call me names but they'll never stick Terry B. I'm by no means a homer, but you are a hater. You have been hating on the good people posting their opinions on Jeff's blogs for years now. I'm not going to claim I'm innocent, as I've been hating on your comments as well. However you can't ignore the facts Terry B., you are a hater. Hater. Don't be hating on me. Don't try to manipulate language and style to twist my words. It's not going to work.
    Aug 29, 2011 at 2:23 PM
  • Terry B.
    Actually, Dan, you're even more wrong than I thought. I consulted your "urban dictionary" and found that you didn't read far enough. "A 'hater' is 'A person that develops a strong dislike for another, solely basing their own opinion on personal judgment rather than objective merit. The formation of a hater's contempt commonly arises from jealously and/or resentment. Individuals that make fun of, or 'hate,' others for justified reasons cannot be legitimately classified as 'haters.' " This puts the "street" definition not too far from the legitimate one. If the opinion is JUSTIFIED and based on OBJECTIVE MERIT, then the person is not a "hater." So someone who criticizes Alex Smith's QB play based on its lack of objective merit, or who criticizes the 49ers based on their putrid performance, is not a hater. Nor am I hater of you, as all of my criticisms of you have objective merit. So, I take back what I said. You are not, in fact, an expert in all things street. You are, however, in the urban dictionary under "homer": "Someone who shows blind loyalty to a team or organization, typically ignoring any shortcomings or faults they have."
    Aug 29, 2011 at 7:56 AM
  • DarrelB
    Just a short observation on the guy that was "a little too cocky for us". Remember, the conventional wisdom at the time was that Smith had more "upside" and nearly every other team would probably have drafted Smith with that pick. Rodgers was drafted 24th by the Packers who had Favre at the time. That means 22 other teams also passed on him. Could any of those 22 teams use Rodgers now? At the time Rodgers was a "Tedford QB" with Trent Dilfer, Akili Smith, David Carr, Joey Harrington, and Kyle Boller preceding him and had a "hitch in his delivery". Yes, the Niners made a mistake on Rodgers but they certainly weren't the only ones.
    Aug 27, 2011 at 3:59 PM
  • Dan
    Terry B. you couldn't have said it douchier. You must love to sniff around your own sewage as you think it is so sweet. You will patrol the 49ers fan site acting like an officer of the laws of critical thinking, chastizing all who don't conform to your brand of criticism using your "expert" command of argument. You aren't nearly as intelligent as you pretend to be. You sir DEFINE the term "hater." You troll this blog hating everyone whose opinion does not reflect your own, everyone who criticizes you and your tendency to jump on the negative before the thing plays out. You can't hide behind your worthless education (and I do mean worthless because it seems to have caused you to be a total douche bag, or is it fair to blame education for that?) because people can see you for what you are. A sorry old man pretending to be important by "hating" on people on the internet.
    Aug 27, 2011 at 3:21 PM
  • Terry B.
    Ah, a new Dan post. Like a breath of fresh sewage in the morning. Now, in addition to his role as homer-in-chief, Dan is the resident expert in all things "street." As if someone with street cred spends all of his time on a 49ers fan site defending the coaching genius of Mike Singletary. In your typical highbrow manner, you claim that it is "douchie" to correct someone's grammar. For the record, Dan, I did not correct his grammar, but to explain to you the meaning of the word "grammar" is beyond the scope of the post. I like your implied assertion that "street grammar" and "grammar" are equally valid. So, if your kid doesn't come home from school writing like David Foster Wallace, you'll be satisfied if he can write like 50 Cent. If I understand your usage of "street grammar," it means "displaying an ignorance of the English language and using words incorrectly." If that is the case, I'm more than happy to defer to you as the expert in street grammar. I think I can offer a better definition of the word "hater" than you did: "a word tossed out by uneducated sports fans when they are thrown off track by critical thinking." Sound about right?
    Aug 27, 2011 at 11:09 AM
  • Milehigh 49er
    I agree completely with what Vernon Davis said. Despite all of whatever surrounding Smith, the kid just doesn't give up. I have al ot of respect for him in that aspect. People talk about him like he's some P.O.S. He's just following his dreams and goals. Trying to do his best but keeps falling short. 90% of the people that talk shit about him would give up if put in that same situation; under the same scrutiny, day in, day out. I know it's a competitive sport, a business and without production you should be benched. But it's not his fault that they keep giving him another shot. I really think Alex Smith will do well this year. You don't have to be Brady or Manning to win in this league. Look at Trent Dilfer, Ravens 2000, Super Bowl Champs. All we need is someone to manage the game and make smart decisions. All that aside. This is his last chance I believe.
    Aug 27, 2011 at 9:31 AM
  • overthemiddle
    Vernon Davis speaking of Alex - "Because I believe in him. I know he can do it. I know he has what it takes," Davis responded. "I say that because he's been through so much and he has not yet put his head down. He's come a long way, and with him handling all this adversity, it lets me know he's a strong person who wants to succeed and be successful. That's why I have his back." What Vernon has said is why I still back Alex. I am not saying Smith is a good quarterback, he hasn't proved it. I've just got this inkling Alex just might flourish this year. Same kind of inkling I had the year before Walsh/Niners started winning and that was with DeBerg at the helm. Man did I just hang myself out to dry?
    Aug 26, 2011 at 9:15 PM
  • kainoa156
    You're right, the niners have nothing to lose with A. Smith. But i disagree with you that CK is NFL ready, no way is he NFL ready.
    Aug 26, 2011 at 5:44 PM
    Response: Actually, I did say that Kaepernick would be best served by sitting out this year.
  • Adrian
    So let's play the what-if game Mr Kaplan. What if.... Alex Smith goes the whole season throwing for 3400 yards 27 TDs and 12 picks?? Can we get an article out of you saying sorry to Alex Smith and his merry band of supporters? LOL I just thought it would be entertaining. In reality I love the 49ers. I don't care who the QB is as long as they work hard for the team and don't abuse cough medicine or send pictures of their package via text message. Go Niners!... and remember my season stats predictions!
    Aug 26, 2011 at 5:26 PM
  • Dan
    According to Terry B.: "sports fans are the only people in the world incapable of understanding the meaning of the word hate." You know Terry, I think sports fans know the meaning of the word hate. From the looks of the last preseason game, they know it better than most. You need to lighten up on the grammar and english when you're on the internet. It's pretty douchie to correct people's english and grammar anywhere, but it's outright inane to correct people on sports blogs. It's the kind of thing sports fans will somehow find the ability to hate. (although to you it's impossible for sports fans to hate) You know you act like you're so smart but you're not. You gave a dictionary definition for the word hate, when Overthemiddle used a street term "hater." So you need to go to a completely different source to find a definition. Maybe the online urban dictionary can get close. hater: "A person that simply cannot be happy for another person's success. So rather than be happy they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person." That's close but the definition of street terms is fluid. I guarantee almost everyone understands what Overthemiddle said and I assure you it's perfectly logical. When it comes to street words, or slang, you either get it or you don't. If you don't get it, you're not going to look smart by pulling out a dictionary.
    Aug 26, 2011 at 2:15 PM
  • Terry B.
    According to Overthemiddle: "some fans are lovers and others are haters." God, can we please stop this butchering of the English language? Why are sports fans the only people in the world incapable of understanding the meaning of the word "hate"? This is truly one of my pet peeves. A fan is "a person enthusiastic about a specified sport, pastime, or performer; devotee [a baseball fan, movie fan]." Webster's New World Dictionary (2d. ed. 505). Hate means "to have strong dislike or ill will for; loathe; despise." Ibid., at 641. Thus, someone who is a "fan" of a team cannot "hate" that team. It's a contradiction in terms. What people really mean to say is that some fans think critically, while others blindly defend everything about their team. Another way to say it would be that some fans are homers and others are not. But no one who is a fan of the 49ers hates the 49ers.
    Aug 26, 2011 at 7:40 AM
  • Lucky Phil
    To quote the memorable Overthemiddle, "opinions are like a**holes, everyone has one". Great classic line and a nice way to open a response. So why doesn't everyone bend over and give us their opinion? I'll tell you why. Because not many men are man enough to take the abuse. But Jeff Kaplan can and he's not afraid of you. So remember, the next time a man gives you his opinion, you give him a piece of yours! It really changes the way a man thinks about the world.
    Aug 25, 2011 at 7:45 PM
  • Alex
    He did not lock on to the receiver. He was looking to his right and middle - they were both covered so he went to his 3rd read which was Davis on an out. The ball was out on time - except that the play was never there to begin with. Shaughnessy faked a rush effectively (you can see this all on film) and then dropped back 10 yards or so to get into perfect position to make a play. He had a 4th option open in Walker, but he fired the pass too quickly and confidently. He beat the same coverage later in the game. It was a poor read and it was worthy of criticism, but at least make it legitimate criticism. To me he had us in position to score some TDs in the only half he played in. That is something. It's just preseason of course, but he looked like a different QB out there and the offense looked much more sophisticated as well.
    Aug 25, 2011 at 6:54 PM
  • BW
    As I did with the last game, I went back and watched Alex's reps in depth, frame by frame at times, and here's what I came away with: not much has changed. He was great throwing to the receivers that had a five-yard cushion, but as is indicated above, too often he locked onto his target early, was indecisive, off target, or panicked and threw the two-yard checkdown. The ONLY throw that he made where he had to put the ball in a tight spot was the long completion to Edwards. OK, bravo, great throw, but it takes more than ONE great throw a game to win consistently. I plan to sit back and take the season for what it is, and that's a lost cause. So pull hard for the Seahawks, Bills, and ESPECIALLY the Bengals, because I'm hoping for some 49ers LUCK come draft day. And trade Gore now for 2012 draft pick(s).
    Aug 25, 2011 at 6:38 PM
    Response: Careful, BW. Someone might think you're not a "real 49er fan."
  • overthemiddle
    You know Jeff opinions are like a**holes, everyone has one. Some fans are lovers and others are haters. The truth probably falls somewhere in between. We have a QB by the name of Alex. I see him as manning up, seems like he is one of the good football players - I am not talking about skill. He seems to be a good person. He stands in there when the fans are booing him, he hangs in there, he doesn't quit. He has a lot of qualities that are good. It's for those qualities as a human that I still support Smith. I like to see the good rise to the top. But........the time has come for Alex to demonstrate his football skills. There are lots of reasons for losing, Alex you can't be one of the reasons. You either play good ball or it's time to go. No more reasons, no nothing.
    Aug 25, 2011 at 3:44 PM
  • REAL 49er fan
    Reading this sounds like this guy is rooting for the Packers. Get over it....we picked Alex Smith and that's that....I mean this is a fan page and all I read from you is another Alex bash, another rant about how many coaches we've had, how our owners suck, get over yourself and go back to the reason you cheer for this team in the first place.....because you love them, we could have better players, but hey so could 31 other teams....but you sir are not a REAL fan and I am disappointed that you would write this kind of article on a FAN page.....the game and the TEAM is a lot bigger than you and your childish rants......don't ever bash my 49ers like that again.....and you call yourself a fan, you should never again be allowed in Candlestick or the new stadium we're getting.....those places are for true RED and GOLD, love us when winning and losing, blood sweat and tears, fans.....and you sir are not one of us.....find a new team, you Johnny Come Lately.....
    Aug 25, 2011 at 3:27 PM
    Response: Good lord, will this EVER stop?!
  • Jeremy
    Re: the Rodgers/Smith comparisons. Can we please stop blaming everything on Alex's coaching and just admit that Rodgers is a superior player? He was the more NFL-ready coming out of college, and he's stayed consistently ahead of Alex. And, as far as Alex's coaching, how many QBs can say they had the chance to learn under Mike McCarthy, Norv Turner, and Mike Martz? He got to work under some of the brightest offensive minds in the game, and, in his seventh season, he still needs to learn how to "use his eyes better." It's not the coaching. It's Alex. I'm as certain that Rodgers would have gotten something out of that same coaching as I am that Alex would have been a bust in Green Bay.
    Aug 25, 2011 at 12:59 PM
  • Lucky Phil
    Jeff, 90% of your comment board are balls-out crazy! And you can add me to the list. But the difference between me and these other yahoos is I can respect other people's opinions. Whether I agree or disagree I appreciate that true fans are opinionated about their team. Does not mean they hate the Niners! Quite the opposite. I don't understand why so many of these comments are negative. If there is anyone out there that is chairman of the Alex Smith fan club enjoy his last season here. Just because I'm not a fan of Smith doesn't mean I'm not a supporter of Smith and the Niners. I hope his last season is a Pro Bowl season. Jeff, just a suggestion: You might want to write an article during the season about the new direction of the team and the improvements they have made. A feel-good article for the angry mob. It's getting pretty ugly down here.
    Aug 24, 2011 at 9:25 PM
    Response: Shane (just below) always says that if he wants "sunshine blown up [his] ass" he'll go to, where Alex Smith is Joe Montana and we're always on the brink of the Super Bowl. If that's what the mob wants, they're free to go get it. I'll stick with my honest feelings, no matter how depressing they might be. And I appreciate those, like you, who appreciate that.
  • Shane
    hey Jeff, fair enough, didn't realize how good those numbers were when i threw them out there! but the reality is smith won't ever be that good. rodgers is a much better QB in any state on any team. Nolan whiffed and i have learned to accept it. what will most likely happen is smith will have a decent season and go on to get a good-size deal from another team without a franchise QB, or maybe even the Colts, imagine that! but the true dilemma for fans is this: as 49ers fans we all want to win the SB this year, that's the point of being a fan, the point of the season, no matter how unrealistic. and if smith did such a thing do you let a SB-winning QB walk away and give the keys to a 2nd-yr QB?? it's just weird cuz then you just waste Kap? as a fan you're conflicted. and to me this article is about the assurance that listen: smith won't be that good, it's reality, so as fans we can root away but the facts will be the facts and next year we begin the future, cuz after 7 yrs alex is who we thought he was!! (thanks Denny) Now all of a sudden Smith never had a chance....come on.... good stuff Jeff, look forward to the next one... good luck with the recruitment of the Matts' readers!!
    Aug 24, 2011 at 8:41 PM
  • Clay
    "Then there's the fact that our SECOND choice--who was just a little too cocky for us--is now a perennial Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl MVP, and the game's top-rated passer." Does anybody really believe that Aaron Rodgers would be a pro bowler had he been drafted by S.F.?
    Aug 24, 2011 at 10:37 AM
    Response: See, here's the thing about this argument. Of course Smith was at a disadvantage. But that doesn't mean that WITHOUT that disadvantage Smith would've been as good as Rodgers or even anywhere close. It's not like Rodgers has had perfectly smooth sailing; he's taken some awful beatings over the years, and he's still been outstanding. I think we've seen enough to conclude that Rodgers would've been better than Smith under any circumstances.
  • Dan
    You hit the jackpot on this one. I didn't really like the writing, you seemed disinterested, like you were forcing it. But that's just my opinion. Your epiphany was kinda an anti-crescendo for me. Nothing's going to get more negative comments in 49er land than writing about Alex Smith. Maybe next week you can write one calling Frank Gore washed up. That will get you some good controversy. So what do you think of that Aldon Smith? How about Navorro Bowman? Not bad picks after all as far as I can tell. Navorro is only in his second year but he's zippy, and he really seems like he gets it. Aldon really uses his length well. I bet next season, he'll be scary. I'd like to see him have a couple more moves, but he's just getting started, I'm sure he'll progress.
    Aug 24, 2011 at 9:53 AM
    Response: Oh, I dunno, Dan. It seems like the backlash this week isn't any rougher than it was when I knocked Trent Baalke for failing to deliver on free-agency Plan A (though of course I gave him credit for his execution of Plan B) and when I knocked Coach You-Know-Who for being a philosophical caveman. As you and I have discussed for years now, most fans see critical thinking or even cognitive dissonance as anathema. I don't worry about it; I get my say, they can have theirs. (Oh, and I agree: time will tell, but both Aldon and Bowman are ahead of where I thought they'd be.)
  • AJ Dembroski
    Perhaps Alex Smith is only a bridge, but I have yet to see anything out of Kaepernick that tells me Smith is a bridge to him. At best, he's a bridge to whomever we draft next year. Kaepernick's a rookie, yes, but he lacks the two basics that successful quarterbacks tend to show up in the NFL already equipped with: accuracy and footwork. Alex Smith in his rookie season was better than Kaepernick in these areas right now. I was a Kaepernick fan entering the draft, where I'd only read scouting reports. Since I've seen him play, I've changed my mind. I'm no pro-coach, but I have coached quarterbacks at multiple levels, and my job offers me the ability to see the coach's cut of all game tape, so while I may just be a fan, I'm a fan with a better view of the field than most. That doesn't mean I'm right, only saying that I don't make these comments from a totally ignorant position. I'm still rooting for Kaepernick (and Smith for that matter), I just don't have a lot of faith in him.
    Aug 24, 2011 at 3:31 AM
  • James
    I came in here thinking I'd read something that was a little less Alex Bashing and a little more understanding. I read what was written and pretty much the whole article was an Alex Bash. With inaccurate comments as well. I know that it has become popular to put the blame for the Niners' dismal years all on Alex's back. And that writing negative articles about him is a popular way to get hits. But it is also very unprofessional. I believe BELIEVE that Alex will show that he isn't a crappy QB but a decent one and under a decent HC and OC he will take us to the playoffs. I don't see him as just a bridge. I do see him as someone Kap can look up to and someone Kap can learn from. And in a few years when Kap is ready he will take the mantle. But to rush Kap into the starting position just because you hate Alex is probably the stupidest thing that can be done. It's what ruined Alex and it's what would ruin Kap. Like a commenter said before me: What if Rodgers was here and Alex was over in Greenbay? Would Alex be that Superbowl QB and Rodgers the hated QB? Think about it. And understand that it takes a lot to make a great QB, it takes a team.
    Aug 24, 2011 at 2:38 AM
  • Vilhelm
    No way Mr. Kaplan can be a fan - absolutely no way. Writing such a post is just utter disgrace and you should be banned from going to the stadium and wearing a 49ers jersey. Furthermore what a bleak outlook on life and humanity. There is no way you have any kids and if you do, poor kids. What you are saying is that teachers have no effect on kids and can't correct or even develop a kid, in class over time. A person is what he/she is and will never change/develop (or maybe just to the worse...?). Furthermore, if your kids aren't behaving, well you might as well give up on them, because they aren't going to better themselves, because, in your theory, no man can. It's just sad reading your childish rants on this so-called fan-page - it's actually turned into a "hate 49ers page". Hate the owners, hate the coaches, hate the front office, hate the players. It is clear you are on a crusade and one can only wonder where your hate and grudge against Alex Smith will stop (even Baalke and York), I hope it stops here on this web page, because it would be horrible if Alex Smith would have to endure any of this. It just isn't healthy hating a person this much, it actually borders on psychotic.
    Aug 24, 2011 at 12:17 AM
  • sddave
    This column really shows how little you understand the importance of coaching and having an offensive scheme. Rich Gannon even said that Manning and Brady would not have made it under the conditions that Alex has had to endure. I was at Qualcomm when Dan Fouts was booed out of the stadium in his fifth year with the Chargers. In five years he had thrown for 34 TD's and 47 INT's. Enter Bill Walsh as QB coach and Don Coryell as Head Coach and Dan is now in the Hall of Fame. No fooling. Dan had no coaching up until then. I saw Harbaugh take Josh Johnson with no Div I scholarship at USD to the leading offensive player in Div I and get drafted by Tampa Bay. You really don't understand the POS offensive direction he has had other than Norv. No wonder there are so many fans below who laugh at your comments. I am not saying that Alex will be MVP but that he will look a hell of a lot better. We had to suffer with two HOF QB's playing together at the same time. I hope we have the same problem with Alex and Kap.
    Aug 23, 2011 at 9:22 PM
  • louie
    It's hard to believe that Jeff and those of you that follow his articles are STILL talking about Alex Smith! Talk about hard-up! Alex Smith is done. He's not worthy of being a starting QB on an NFL team. The only reason he's still here is that Harbaugh thinks/thought he could help Smith play well enough this lockout year to be somewhat effective enough to buy time while the team is REBUILT. Most fans want to think the 49ers are almost "there". They're not. All of the three other teams in the NFC west have a better shot than the 49ers of winning the division. And it's probably a good thing (draft wise) for a new, talented coach trying to rebuild this mess without a legit GM to help him. I suggest patience and setting expectations a few years out for a REAL contender, rather than make short-term moves to try to win a weak division that has already passed by the 49ers. Send "thank yous" to Jed for his ignorant, spineless moves in the past few years.
    Aug 23, 2011 at 8:35 PM
  • M. Horner
    Adam, it was Harbaugh who wanted Hasselbeck. I'm not one of those people who think only those who played or coached the game are qualified to comment on it, but on the limited question of who is the better QB to run the west coast offense for a year or two while CK gets ready, I'd go with Harbaugh's opinion over yours any day of the week.
    Aug 23, 2011 at 6:40 PM
  • ladale
    I'm in agreement with you Jeff Kaplan, it amazes me how so many so-called fans in this "what have you done for me lately", "dog eat dog", "winner take all" sport continue to throw support behind a guy who has yet to make anybody else better himself. For every comment about this one particular guy not having a consistent coordinator, you can also say that a truly talented Q.B. would have made the best of those offenses and won the division.
    Aug 23, 2011 at 6:34 PM
  • Eddd
    Totally agree that Alex is just a "bridge", because he just isn't a franchise QB. What I'm not sure is if that bridge ends with Kaepernick. It's just too early to tell if Kaepernick has enough to be a starter in the NFL. But short of a miracle, I believe Alex will be gone next season.
    Aug 23, 2011 at 5:48 PM
  • Shane
    You know Jeff, it's funny to me. Every blog must have its own set of "fans". Being an east coast fan (or maybe just a die hard) i read every single article on this site. I have been reading Matt M for years. Every comment i have read over the last six years has basically said that alex smith is the worst thing to happen to football since tailgating! then you write an article addressing the elephant in the room (i'll admit, you took the thought right out of my head) and out come all the alex supporters and the dozens of excuses why he isn't good. let's face it, at this stage he isn't good because he overthinks, doesn't make NFL reads, and plays with fear, straight and simple. This is a guy who was only offered TWO legit big boy scholarships and one was to UTAH! so on to the real problem, which i was thinking bout last week. what if (and i understand the size of this if) smith throws for 3200, 25/10, 66% and we go 11-5, 10-6, win a playoff game. harbaugh does exactly what he does, and makes smith good. he is now a FA. do we just say it's Kap time and hope that Harbaugh can do it again? Smith isn't taking another 1 yr deal. i guess i assume he leaves, takes the $. but it certainly is interesting.
    Aug 23, 2011 at 5:46 PM
    Response: It's true, Shane. Scanning the comments on the Matts' blogs, you'd have no idea that my opinions are so controversial. I gotta recruit some of THEIR readers! Anyway, your hypothetical would be troubling, but it's just impossible. Let's say he throws 400 passes this year. With your numbers, his rating would be 100.8. That would've placed him fourth in the league last year. There's no way. Sure, he might play well, but he WON'T produce the kind of miracle that would induce us to keep him around.
  • Adam
    LMFAO!!! Yes, Matt Hasselbeck was our savior. LMFAO!! Get a life dude. Alex Smith outplayed Hasselback many times in his career. Matt had better coaches and had the same offense his whole career. Gimme a break.
    Aug 23, 2011 at 4:24 PM
  • How I learned you're not a good jour
    This article is more inane than your idiotic piece outlining Baalke's failure as a head GM. Good job. Ehhhhhhh.
    Aug 23, 2011 at 4:04 PM
  • Arod
    You call yourself a sportswriter but all i hear is someone crying about a player that has never had a real chance in this league. He finally has a competent coach and offensive-minded staff. I won't be surprised if Alex does real well this year and the niners resign him for a couple more years... What will you bi*ch about then?? TRUE NINER FAN, AROD!!
    Aug 23, 2011 at 3:50 PM
  • David
    Jeff, Your analysis is off on so many levels. If you were an intelligent football fan (notice I'm not saying an intelligent person as you obviously are that) you would be able to look at the situation for what it is. The organization has been in disarray, there has never been a #1 receiver, and the O-line has been one of the worst in the league for Smith's whole career. The fact that you have a hard time rooting for the guy just shows that you are not looking at the situation fairly. Unfortunately you haven't seen that in the last two years Smith has become a competent QB on a team with an anemic offensive strategy and a horrible line. A team whose receivers routinely dropped crucial passes. Certainly he will improve in a more QB-friendly system. Your most laughable point is that Kaepernick is basically as good as Smith right now. You obviously know almost nothing about the actual game because Kaepernick is having a huge problem reading defenses, his decision-making is slow, and he is nowhere near the QB that Alex is right now. He definitely has loads of talent, but to pretend that they are playing on the same level is just a joke.
    Aug 23, 2011 at 12:07 PM
  • Darrell G.
    It's been debated many times. Without going through all the usual tripe or what some call "alexcuses." It's even money if Smith went to GB and Rodgers came here, it could be a complete reversal of fortunes for both players. Rodgers had the benefit of sitting behind a HOF QB for what? 3, 4 years? And the same system with talent all around. Smith got thrown to the wolves, with no talent around him and the line of HCs and OCs yanking him in and out of the line-up is already well established. I think any QB would have been ruined, including Rodgers. Confidence shot. IMO, if anyone has battered-wife syndrome, it would be Smith. He's a bridge, absolutely, too much abuse in the marriage BOTH ways.......but maybe this year we'll also see what we had hoped to see for the last 6 years and the debate will then become instead of "Rodgers over Smith" .... "what if we'd have had an offensive HC and QB guru 4 years ago" .......... Smith for comeback player of the year I say...........
    Aug 23, 2011 at 12:06 PM
  • dtcomposer
    Jeff are we talking about Lowell Cohn? Not exactly a treasure trove of insightful or accurate commentary. If you can link to any of the reputable journalists that reported the same thing I will eat crow. Hold on one second, I have NFL preseason so I will watch that play again... Ok I watched it several times and he clearly looked off to his right and then made the throw. The reverse view is particularly clear. My main point is just that while many may agree with you, you need to be accurate or you lose credibility. You made other outlandish or inaccurate statements in this article, and it isn't the first time I've read them. The most important point is that you never root against your own players (with few exceptions - criminals, locker room cancers, etc).
    Aug 23, 2011 at 11:48 AM
  • BOI49er
    Let's spare us six years of Alexcuses, but here's my caricature of last year. We run Gore between the tackles on first and second down, and then on third and eight we throw two yards behind the line of scrimmage on a bubble screen or a swing pass. Punt. Early in the third quarter we get a two-point lead, and see defense-minded Singlecell call up to the OC, "keep doing what you are doing, but just run it more and pass it less". In the fourth quarter, Nate gets beat deep by a fast WR with no safety help over the top, or "not an NFL safety" Mays just gets beat. Put another "L" in AS's column. After the game, our O says the D is calling out the plays before the snap, their LB says all you have to do is follow Iupati in the hole to find the ball, and Crabs says publicly "the only way I know to play is with the pedal to the metal". Still, AS's ratings the last three years are 82.1/81.5/dnp, to Hasselbeck's 73.2/75.1/57.8 without such playcalling problems. Still, we'd have won the division and beaten Hasselbeck's record if the coach hadn't preferred the QB that gets the most fired up like a defensive player with everything on the line. Coach is fired the same day. Hasselbeck would have preferred to slide down the coast to play for us and Harbaugh, but we know Harbaugh told him he'd compete for the starting job, because he's told every player on and off the team that wasn't in last year's pro bowl the same thing. Hasselbeck knows the 49ers and AS's talents well, being in the same division, and he knows which was the problem. So off he goes to Tennessee, Tennessee!, with a rookie coach and a rookie QB. If we win the division, AS will be back to compete with Kaep and Josh Johnson, and we'll roll the balls out and see who wins. Where am I going wrong?
    Aug 23, 2011 at 11:46 AM
  • Bob
    Jeff is the Alex Smith of journalism.
    Aug 23, 2011 at 11:21 AM
  • dtcomposer
    In response to the response to Cole, you are incorrect. Harbaugh was referring to Smith seeing that the lineman had dropped into coverage. That is what was meant by the eyes remark. All the quotes from the game (did you read them?) made it pretty obvious that Smith had decided by the coverage that he was going to throw out to Vernon on the left sideline. He looked off the safety (his quote) and then let it fly before seeing that the DL had dropped back into coverage. While it was a mistake, it certainly wasn't staring down his receiver. While I understand your issues with Smith there is no excuse for rooting for a member of the team to fail, especially in the regular season. Not expecting him to do well is one thing, but rooting for failure is inexcusable.
    Aug 23, 2011 at 10:26 AM
    Response: Not that it really matters WHICH rookie mistake Smith made, but for what it's worth, here's Cohn: "He took the ball in the shotgun formation and stared at Davis. He stared at Davis a long time. The coaches have told him not to stare at one receiver, but gee whiz, he just can't help himself. If the play was a cartoon, a big black arrow would have pointed at Davis' helmet and the words INTENDED RECEIVER would have floated above Davis' head to let everyone know Smith was going his way."
  • Alden Brown
    I'll say it, Gandrew. Alex Smith sucks.
    Aug 23, 2011 at 9:54 AM
  • Terry B.
    Marc Ward: When you say that Jeff is "always" "completely wrong," are you referring to last year when he initially was criticized for being so negative about Singletary's vision but then by the end of the year everyone was agreeing he was right? Is that what you're talking about? Matt: You are correct that one interception in a preseason game does not make Smith a horrible QB. It's the last six seasons that make Smith a horrible QB.
    Aug 23, 2011 at 9:52 AM
  • Cole
    dude, you are a bad reporter, first of all Alex didn't stare down his target, if you watch the replay he went through his progressions, saw that it was man coverage and like 99% of other QBs wouldn't assume that a DE would be 15 yards deep in the flat, 9 out of 10 times that's a completion and a 1st down, either be a real 49er fan or stop writing for them, Alex is the starter, get over it.
    Aug 23, 2011 at 9:50 AM
    Response: Cole, I just watched the replay on youtube, several times. I don't agree with your interpretation, and evidently Harbaugh doesn't either. If Smith didn't stare Davis down, what did Harbaugh mean when he said that Smith needs to make better use of his eyes?
  • Thomas Jefferson
    If this is a true QB competition, CK should start the next game since Alex started the first two and didn't impress. If CK starts and lights it up, the job is his. I think this is what Harbaugh planned from the beginning, otherwise why would he have had Goodwin as CK's center each time he plays, and Snyder at center for Alex? No way Alex can win a head-to-head competition against this kid.
    Aug 23, 2011 at 9:45 AM
  • overthemiddle
    I have been a Smith supporter. Lots of disappointments with Smith. Still he has the tools, he has the will, and he has the brain. We all know that. I sure wish he would put all three together consistently. I can't call him Mrs Alice Smith as there is not a female side to him. He is a man's man but that doesn't make him a good QB. All the arguments about so many different OCs and now his third head coach, all the injuries and the Niners were a terrible team, are true but the reasons/excuses are not enough. Is he a bridge to CK, I don't know that. I haven't seen enough of CK to see if he is going to do well or not. I have been a strong supporter of getting Josh Johnson but Josh is also unproven at the pro level. One thing that keeps me coming back to Smith is that he is a good man. I really would like to see good people do well. So far he hasn't. This year he either plays well or he is gone. For the Niners' sake and Smith's sake I hope he does well. But...........
    Aug 23, 2011 at 9:20 AM
  • Gandrew
    Alex Smith has made a lot of awful plays in his time as the Niner QB so you shouldn't have to make stuff up to try and make your point. On the interception he threw to the defensive lineman that dropped back into coverage, Smith was looking off the corner on the other side of the field, not staring down his man. I get so sick of this conversation. If you are going to write an article that has the sole intent of saying "Alex Smith sucks" just put it up front so that I don't have to read the article.
    Aug 23, 2011 at 9:20 AM
  • DC Niner
    Stop with the buyer's remorse or what-if musings. Do you think any QB could have survived the past seven dysfunctional years? Mike Nolan was more interested developing dapper sideline style points than developing a young QB. Singletary's Fhysicality was literally passed over by the pass-happy modern NFL. Mike Martz's ego blocked whatever genius that made the greatest show on turf. Look at the top QB's in the league. Eli, Big Ben, Aaron Rodgers, Phillip Rivers, and Romo. All sat on the bench to learn. Imagine inserting a young QB with an established o-line and receiving corps and a defense to backstop the offense. See the formula for success used by New England, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Dallas, Green Bay. Now that the Niners may finally assemble talent around him and coaching from the modern NFL era, Alex Smith might finally develop like others.
    Aug 23, 2011 at 8:43 AM
  • Telecat
    I have, very reluctantly, come to the same conclusion, Jeff. I also think CK may not be the 49ers' QB of the future. Josh Johnson becomes available as a free agent after this season and Mrs. Alice Smith could easily be the bridge to Johnson. We're probably not going to be bad enough to get Andrew Luck and Johnson is probably the best bet. I'm not convinced CK is anything more than a more mobile Jim Druckenmiller. But having seen him in the preseason, Josh Johnson IS the real deal, even if he was playing with and against 2s. Time will tell but I don't think there is a straight line in the bridge, yet.
    Aug 23, 2011 at 8:17 AM

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