After being drafted first overall by the 49ers in 2005, it appeared as if QB Alex Smith was on his way to joining a long list of first round busts. Luckily for Smith (and Niners fans), he has turned around his career and found success under head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Smith’s overall statistics still may not wow anyone, but he has developed into a solid game manager and has learned to limit his turnovers. This past season Smith led the 49ers to one of the NFL’s best records and has the team poised to be Super Bowl contenders for the first time in years.
“I could absolutely care less on yards per game,” Smith said. “I think that is a totally overblown stat because if you’re losing games in the second half, guess what, you’re like the Carolina Panthers and you’re going no-huddle the entire second half. Yeah, Cam Newton threw for a lot of 300-yard games. That’s great. You’re not winning, though.”
To his credit, Smith has a point. Newton has a spectacular individual rookie season (4,051 yards passing, 21 passing TDs, NFL record 14 rushing TDs for a QB), but what matters at the end of the day is a notch in the win column, not the leaderboard of individual stat sheets. Still, Smith sounds a tad bit bitter, maybe even jealous, of the attention paid to statistics.
Maybe Alex Smith should take into account that the NFL has transformed into a passing league, and that fans the media thrive on seeing big statistics put up every now and then. Especially playing in San Francisco, who fan base has enjoyed Hall of Fame quarterback play from Joe Montana and Steve Young.
Long as the Niners keep winning the fan base will reluctantly support Smith. But if he reverts back to his old struggles, he can expect his lack of gaudy passing statistics to be highly scrutinized.