Why Alex Smith deserves York’s vote of confidence

Quarterback Alex Smith was given a vote of confidence from the 49ers team president this week when Jed York declared, “Alex is our guy.”

 

York made his remarks a couple weeks after the 49ers attempted to strengthen their quarterback position with the free-agent signing of David Carr, whom the 49ers awarded a contract very similar to Smith’s.

One of the reasons Carr was eager to sign with the 49ers was because coach Mike Singletary intimated to him that he would have a genuine opportunity to get on the field. When asked if Singletary told him he would compete for the starting job, Carr answered . . .

 

“Specifically, those words haven’t been said, but they have said that competition is what they love around here,” Carr said. “It makes you feel better. One of Singletary’s things is, ‘Iron sharpens iron.’ The thing that I wanted to hear, from all those guys, was I’ll have a chance to be on the field if I play the way I know I can play and they said, ‘Yes.’ Once I get on the field, I feel confident that we are going to play well.”

 

The 49ers are expected to add another quarterback for training camp. My suspicion is they’ll grab a prospect late in the draft or they will sign an undrafted free agent.

 

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Some of you have asked: Why should Smith be handed the quarterback job? What has he done to earn it?

 

Looking at things objectively, you’d have to ask the question the other way, too. What has he done to lose the job?

 

Take a look at the statistics for all the current quarterbacks in the NFC West. Smith posted the best numbers of anyone who saw significant playing time in 2009. I’m certainly going to make no predictions on how Smith will fare in 2010, but it seems reasonable to assume that he will continue to get better. After all, he turns 26 in two months. And for the first time in his NFL career, he does not have to spend this offseason learning a new offense.

 

One would figure Smith’s play is on the rise – whereas such NFC West quarterbacks as Matt Hasselbeck and Marc Bulger, who have put together some really good seasons, are on the decline.

 

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All that said . . . the 49ers coaching staff has every reason to bring an end to “waiting” for Alex Smith. The roster is good enough to win the NFC West. Singleary, offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye and QBs coach Mike Johnson must play the quarterback they believe gives the 49ers the best chance to win games.

 

From a statistical standpoint, Smith might need only a marginal improvement over what he did in his 10 1/2 games a year ago to get it done.

 

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Here is the raw data of how every quarterback in the NFC West fared last season:

 

49ers

–Alex Smith, Utah. Exp: 6

225 of 372 (60.5%) for 2350 yards (6.3 per attempt), 18 TDs, 12 Ints. Rating 81.5.

 

–David Carr, Fresno State. Exp: 9

Giants: 21 of 33 (63.6%) for 225 yards (6.82 per attempt), 1 TD, 0 Ints. Rating 93.6.

 

–Nate Davis, Ball State. Exp: 2

Did not attempt a pass

 

 

Arizona Cardinals

–Matt Leinart, USC. Exp: 5

51 of 77 (66.2%) for 435 yards (5.6 per attempt), 0 TDs, 3 Ints. Rating 64.6

 

–Derek Anderson, Oregon State. Exp: 6

Cleveland: 81 of 182 (44.5%) for 888 yards (4.88 per attempt), 3 TDs, 10 Ints. Rating 42.1.

 

–Brian St. Pierre, Boston College. Exp: 8

2 of 4 (50%) for 12 yards (3.0 per attempt), 1 TD, 1 Int. Rating 56.3.

 

St. Louis Rams

–Marc Bulger, West Virginia. Exp: 10

140 of 247 (56.7%) for 1469 yards (5.95 per attempt), 5 TDs, 6 Ints. Rating 70.7

 

–A.J. Feeley, Oregon. Exp: 10

Carolina: Did not attempt a pass

 

–Keith Null, West Texas A&M. Exp: 2

73 of 119 (61.3%) for 566 yards (4.76 per attempt), 3 TDs, 9 Ints. Rating 49.9

 

–Mike Reilly, Central Washington, Exp: 2

Did not attempt a pass

 

Seattle Seahawks

–Matt Hasselbeck, Boston College. Exp: 12

293 of 488 (60%) for 3029 yards (6.21 per attempt), 17 TDs, 17 Ints. Rating 75.1

 

–Charlie Whitehurst, Clemson: Exp: 5

Chargers: Did not attempt a pass

 

–Mike Teel, Rutgers. Exp: 2

Did not attempt a pass

 

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