Alex Smith has been through a lot in his NFL career, but the steadily improving San Francisco 49ers’ signal-caller may have gotten another endorsement that can carry him well past those trying times.
On ESPN’s “NFL Live” on Monday, Hall-of-Famers Joe Montana and Jerry Rice gave Smith a positive endorsement and were complimentary of his playmaking ability and the team’s overall effort to surround the former No. 1 overall pick with enough talent to succeed in 2012.
“He can make those throws, and now it’s just about managing the game,” said Montana during the telecast. “He can throw the ball down the field, and he can throw it a long way if he has to.”
Newcomers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham will give Smith a chance to showcase his arm strength and give him plenty of chances to build a true vertical passing game in San Francisco — something the team has been missing for a number of years. Smith had the best year of his career as a passer in 2011, throwing for 3,144 yards, 17 touchdowns, and just five interceptions on the year. To build on that success, he’ll have to trust his new teammates and himself.
The other thing the offense has going for it is another year of continuity, something that it hasn’t had since Smith entered the league in 2005. With a second year under head coach Jim Harbaugh, Smith could finally showcase his ability and demonstrate to his critics exactly why he deserved to be a first-round selection.
At just 28 years old, Smith is has plenty of time to realize his full potential, and because of the inconsistency that’s clouded his career, it’s difficult to tell exactly what that may be.
Montana pointed out that there were flashes of brilliance during last season’s playoff game against the New Orleans Saints, specifically on a pinpoint throw to tight end Vernon Davis where Smith demonstrated his confidence in himself and the necessary trust in his receiver.
Rice also expressed confidence in Smith’s offense, pointing out that the unit would need to showcase its ability to put up points and take pressure off last season’s No. 1 defense.
“This is why we play the game,” said Rice. “Because of pressure.”
Michael C. Jones is the Editor of Sports Out West. You can follow him on Twitter for more insight @MikeJonesTweets.
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