Some of you may be wondering why Frank Gore and Alex Smith were not finalists for my midseason offensive player awards. Afterall, they are both having the best seasons of their careers.
First, I’ll address Gore. He’s excellent, but he’s benefitting big-time from the 49ers offensive line. He’s regularly running through gaping holes at the line of scrimmage. He’s averaging 5.5 yards per carry, and that’s impressive, but Kendall Hunter is averaging 5 yards per carry, too, and there are probably two dozen running backs who could average 5 yards per carry behind Mike Iupati and the 49ers O-line.
Now, Alex Smith. He is completing 69.4 percent of his passes and is on pace to throw 24 TDs this season. Those are big improvements for him.
But he is benefitting from the defense and the running game. He usually doesn’t have pressure to score a lot of points because his defense is so strong, and he rarely faces obvious passing downs. As a result, he frequently can use play-action passes.
Also, he’s been inconsistent. He was excellent against the Packers, the Lions, the Bills and the Cardinals, but he was not-so-good against the Vikings, the Jets, the Giants and the Seahawks.
If he can be more consistent in the second half of the season, he will challenge for an award after the season.