Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

20 Mar 2012

ESPN: How Good Will Alex Smith Be Next Season?

Alex Smith returning to San Francisco is the best thing for him and the best thing for the 49ers, but don't expect him to be quite as good as he was in 2011.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 20 Mar 2012

14 comments, Last at 03 Apr 2012, 12:58pm by the cat in the box is dead


by tally :: Wed, 03/21/2012 - 12:08am

Let the Irrational Smith/Manning thread commence.

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 03/21/2012 - 12:17am

Yes, who was the better safety in the 2006 draft, Danieal Manning or Anthony Smith?

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 03/21/2012 - 10:36am

Even FO's analyis of Alex Smith comes out as 'meh'.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 03/21/2012 - 2:30pm

I've always felt that guy's problems are mostly mental ones. When he loosens the fuck up, he plays twice as well. It makes him frustrating to watch. I wish someone could hypnotize him into thinking the 49ers are always behind by 14 points.

Note: "twice" here is being used hyperbolically, not quantitatively.

Heh. I love Jed York's tweet to Alex after he signs: "Thanks for choosing the #49ers Alex. Sorry it was a tough week..." Dawww.

by Chill (not verified) :: Wed, 03/21/2012 - 4:50pm

I couldn't read the article, but so far as I can tell, there is no good reason to believe that Smith won't do better personally this year than he did last year.

He has another year of experience, but has not yet reached an age where he will physically decline. This will be his second year in the offense as well, in offense he didn't get much practice in at all before an abbreviated training camp last year. (Camp Alex hardly counts, though it probably helped.) He was completely unfamiliar with the coach and the system.

The young offensive line had a very bad year last year pass blocking compared to what they have the ability to do. It is very unlikely that they will be worse pass blockers this year.

It is unlikely that the Niners will have to start a fifth string receiver for a good portion of this year, and give playing to to completely unknown, and not decent, guys like Brett Swain and Joe Hastings. There weren't a lot of injuries on the team last year, but there were an awful lot of WR injuries.

Most likely he will have more yards, more TDs and yes, more INTs this year than last year. Alex Smith is a good QB, and it would be foolish to expect him to be worse this year than in one with so many damaging circumstances.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 03/22/2012 - 9:16am

There are all kind of reasons to expect him to do worse.

1. He has never been anywhere near as good as he was last year, indicating that it might have been somewhat fluky and he really isn't that good. (He led the league in INT% with 1.1%! That's completely unsustainable. For his career he averages 3.0%.)

2. His success was related to a simplifying of the offense. It worked, but the offense is more limited and defenses may be able to stop it more effectively in the future.

3. He could get hurt. (He led the league in sacks last year.)

4. The defense could regress, putting him in more unfavorable positions.

I'm not saying any of that will happen, but it's easy to imagine him playing worse this year than last.

by LionInAZ :: Sat, 03/24/2012 - 5:49pm

Just replace 'Alex Smith 2011' with 'Matt Cassel 2010' and you can easily understand how Alex Smith could be worse in 2012. And Smith has worse receivers and RBs to work with.

by greybeard :: Sun, 03/25/2012 - 11:52pm

I don't understand your proof. He will have the same running backs. And his receivers go from Crabtree, Edwards, 5 games of Morgan and Ginn to Crabtree, Moss, Maningham and Ginn. I'd say that is s pretty good upgrade.
He will also have the benefit of an offseason to work on the plays with his receivers.
49ers have overall what looks to be tougher schedule next year but that is mostly because they are going to play better offenses not better defenses.
I also don't understand how Matt Cassel example is relevant. He changed teams. Smith plays for the same team.

by Independent George :: Mon, 03/26/2012 - 4:16pm

Cassel changed teams between 2008 and 2009. He was very good for Kansas City in 2010, setting personal bests in TD%, INT%, sack %, an ANY/A, but reverted back towards his career averages in 2011 even before his injury.

by greybeard :: Tue, 03/27/2012 - 1:19am

That makes sense. I don't think it is a relevant example though. But we will see.

by LionInAZ :: Mon, 03/26/2012 - 5:08pm

I meant that KC has better backs and receivers than SF.

by Andrew M (not verified) :: Thu, 03/22/2012 - 8:46am

No one ever states the obvious with Alex Smith. Look at a picture of him - his eyes are too close together. He lacks binocular vision. It's like the 49ers have a cyclops out there playing QB.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 03/22/2012 - 8:05pm

You might be on to something, he is susceptible to defensive backs who hide underneath sheep.

by the cat in the box is dead (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2012 - 12:58pm

'Oh rampaging Safety, before you run unimpeded into the endzone with my errantly thrown pigskin, please at least tell me your name!'

'My name is No Juan. I am an undrafted free-agent you have never heard of who did ok in some preseason games and lucked out due to your opponent's injury situation. Quite what my parentage is to warrant my strange name I haven't quite figured out, but as a freshman I was a captain for the Ithaca Bombers....'