Alex Smith’s top-five targets

Ray Rice will speak on a conference call at 10:00 am and John Harbaugh will speak at 10:30 am, but before I got to transcription land let’s play a game.

Who are Alex Smith’s top-five weapons in the pass game?

Smith has thrown the ball 68 times the last two games as Greg Roman tries to establish the pass attack before the playoffs.

Over these last two weeks we’ve gotten a much better idea of who Alex Smith can and should count on to catch his passes.

Here’s how I would rank his weapons. Please give your ranking, too.

  1. Michael Crabtree – He’s Smith’s No. 1 target, hands down. He’s got the best hands on the team, he runs good routes and he’s tough to tackle after the catch. Plus, he’s faster than he gets credit for. He’s consistently gotten open on deep routes the last two weeks.
  2. Vernon Davis – He’s still the receiver opposing defenses focus on. That means he usually gets double teamed, so Smith throws to someone else. And when Smith does throw to him, he has limitations. He’s not the kind of receiver who can catch a pass near the sideline and nimbly keep his feet in bounds. He doesn’t break a lot of tackles after the catch. But if he’s left single covered at the snap, he’s definitely going to beat his man one-on-one, we saw that Sunday when he scored a touchdown.
  3. Kyle Williams – I’ve watched Kyle Williams play since training camp, and I always thought he’d be a perfect slot receiver. He could be their Wes Welker. He’s very fast, but he’s exceptionally quick – the quickest guy on the team, quicker than Kendall Hunter. Plus he has good hands and he’s strong – he can break tackles. Smith threw five passes to him on Sunday and Williams caught all five, including one touchdown. After the game Harbaugh said Williams did earn more playing time, to which we say, “D’uh.” I say Williams should start – he’s that good.
  4. Delanie Walker. He’s almost as fast as Vernon Davis, plus he’s a better runner after the catch because he’s better at breaking tackles. We know his drawback – he doesn’t have the best hands. Walker caught zero of the five passes thrown his way on Sunday, but most of them were off target. Expect Smith to continue to throw at least five passes his way every game.
  5. Braylon Edwards – Harbaugh said yesterday that Edwards isn’t 100 percent healthy after knee surgery, and it shows. He looks like he’s always a little behind where Smith expects him to be on his route. Plus, he’s dropped a lot of passes the last two weeks. He needs to step it up or else he’ll lose his starting job to Kyle Williams, and he may not get resigned this offseason by the Niners.

All in all, even without Joshua Morgan, this is quite an impressive group.

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