By Jerrell Richardson
As the 49ers play for their 6th Super Bowl victory, very few can even imagine what is going through the mind of Alex Smith. His roller coaster ride of a career has seen more downs then ups, and regardless of what happens in this game, how much he smiles and what he says; he is not happy. It’s easy to feel sorry for a guy that has been the ideal team player throughout his career, especially this year, but the reality is that his demotion was the best thing for both he and the team. If he had been allowed to finish off the season, the 49ers would not be in the Super Bowl, and his value to other teams would only plummet. By looking at the business of winning football games, Jim Harbaugh, once again, made the right call. If anything Smith should realize that when he signs his next contract, it’s because of his former team and coach, who believed in him, even after 7 less then impressive seasons.
Time To Move On
Let’s say San Francisco did the “fair” thing and let Alex Smith finish this season. Of course there is no way to know how the playoffs would have gone, but it’s safe to say that they would not have been in the Super Bowl. The win over the Packers was due to Colin Kaepernick’s record setting performance, and there is no chance Smith pulls off the comeback against the Falcons. A playoff defeat would mean both quarterbacks coming back to camp next year with the position up for grabs, and it’s safe to say that Kaepernick would win that position battle. By making a decision early, Smith has been able to prepare for his future, while the team does the same. The fact that Smith was having his best season is not saying much. There was a marked improvement in his play, but he struggled against the better teams.
His “Best Season”
Smith started the season with a win at Green Bay, but it was Frank Gore, David Akers and the defense that earned the win. The only other win against a playoff team, under Smith, was in week 7 against the Seahawks. Seattle does have an elite defense, but Smith managed less then 150 yards, San Francisco scored 13 points, and the star was once again Gore. The two defeats he suffered were at the hands of the Vikings (a team that had no right beating the 49ers) and a beat down courtesy of the New York Giants. This season he was .500 against playoff teams, did not play particularly well in either win, and was terrible against New York. Beating the Jets, Cardinals, Lions and Bills, all teams that were among the worst in the league, does not put Smith in the elite category, or mean that he was having a good season.
Keeping His Value Up
By pulling Smith, before he could lose in the playoffs, the 49ers made him one of the best options for any team looking for a new quarterback, and will help him maximize his dollars. The harsh truth is that Smith road the coattails of a good team and even better coach. Alex Smith is no scrub but far from the player the team that gets him hopes ther are signing. The Chiefs, Browns, Jets (sign and trade for Darrelle Revis that makes San Francisco EVEN better), are all teams that are rebuilding and Smith is not the answer. If the 49ers playing in the Super Bowl is not enough, to prove that benching Smith was the best decision for the team and it’s fans, wait until Smith goes to another team and will be lucky if he can get his team into the playoffs, where they will ultimately lose to an elite quarterback. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.