View Full Version : Football Miraculously...Alex Smith returns from the dead

10-25-2009, 08:37 PM
and Crabtree didnt look too bad today either......


He couldn't quite manage the fairytale ending that would have ensured him being the NFL's comeback story of the season thus far, but was there a more unexpected and captivating Week 7 plot twist than the spectacular return to NFL relevance of San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith, the all-but-forgotten 2005 first overall pick who had gone almost two full years between appearances in a regular-season game?

There's not a shred of hyperbole in saying Smith might very well have resurrected his floundering NFL career on Sunday in Houston, even though he wasn't quite able to bring the 49ers all the way back against the Texans, who hung on to beat visiting San Francisco 24-21 after leading 21-0 at the half.

Taking over for the ineffective Shaun Hill after halftime, Smith led the 49ers to touchdowns on three of their first four second-half drives, with all of them culminating on touchdown passes to tight end Vernon Davis. Smith, who hadn't even played in an NFL game that counted since Week 10 of 2007, finished a sizzling 15 of 22 for 206 yards and those three scores, for a passer rating of 118.6

And with that, the 49ers might have finally found their long-term answer at quarterback -- a scant four and a half years after first deciding to build the franchise around him in 2005. Can anyone at this point doubt that Smith at the very least has earned another shot at being the guy in San Francisco and deserves an extended chance to build on his boffo showing against Houston?

Smith's desperation pass on 4th and 10 from the 49ers 38 was picked off by Texans safety Eugene Wilson with three seconds remaining, but his three second-half touchdown passes were more than he had thrown in the past two full seasons combined (two). Smith's last touchdown pass before Sunday came in Week 8 of 2007, in a 31-10 loss against New Orleans, and he hadn't had a three-touchdown game since Week 5 of 2006, in a 34-20 win against Oakland.

What will the second Smith era in San Francisco be like? For one thing, it'll be devoid of the huge expectations that Smith had to deal with the first time in took over as the team's starter. Smith seemed to play free and easy on Sunday against the Texans, like a guy who knew he really didn't have anything to lose at this point in his five-year NFL career.

The 49ers have been searching for a viable option at quarterback since Jeff Garcia left town after the 2003 season, and Smith didn't seem likely to ever be that guy after losing a quarterback competition with Hill this preseason. But Hill started 6 of 11 for just 45 yards in the first half against the Texans, with San Francisco punting or turning the ball over on downs on all five of their first-half possessions. But once Smith entered, and completed 8 of his first 9 passes, for 96 yards and a pair of scores, it quickly became apparent that he had provided the needed spark.

After its promising 3-1 start, San Francisco has now lost two in a row to slip back to .500, with a challenging trip to undefeated Indianapolis (6-0) looming next week. But the makings of a pretty potent passing offense in San Francisco is starting to come into view. There's Smith hopeful re-birth, and then there's Davis, who became the first 49ers pass catcher to record three receiving touchdowns in a game since Terrell Owens in 2001. Davis finished with 7 catches for 93 yards, with scoring catches of 29, 14 and 23 yards, doubling his touchdown total in what has been the breakout season of his four-year NFL career.

Receiver Michael Crabtree's NFL debut was overshadowed by Smith's comeback, but the rookie out of Texas Tech caught 5 passes for 56 yards to make a solid contribution for San Francisco. When you toss in the four catches for 62 yards by second-year receiver Josh Morgan -- who like Smith, Davis and Crabtree is a 49er draft pick -- San Francisco's offense suddenly looks like a lot more than just Frank Gore and a grind-it-out running game.