Sunday, December 11, 2011

Back From The Dead: The Blog Returns!

Well, howdy, ho! I have returned to the blog after six months. One of these days, I might write this thing on a consistent basis.

Today's post is going to be a veritable potpourri of thoughts. First up, the 49ers. In following the title of this post, the glory of the Niners has certainly experienced a resurrection this year! Today, they sit at 10-2. They have won the NFC West and they are in the playoffs for the first time since 2002. After six seasons, Alex Smith has developed into legitimate NFL starter. Okay, quick show of hands: Who predicted this level of success for the Niners going into this season? Yeah, neither did I.

What has been happening in the Land of Red & Gold is a tribute to the value of good coaching. If you look at this team, barring the secondary, the personnel is not vastly different than the team that took the field for Singletary in 2010. The 2010 team I felt had some good pieces; they just needed to be utilized properly. Harbaugh has utilized them to hilt. And what he's done with Smith is nothing short of amazing. Or is it?

Alex Smith has had the deck stacked against him from the get go. He was picked too high in the draft (thus elevating expectations beyond his ability level). He was thrown into service midway through his rookie year with an offense that brought whole new levels of suck week after week. Since the Offensive Coordinator position was a revolving door of coaches, each year brought a new offense for Alex to learn. The one time he had a coordinator two seasons in a row, the guy was perhaps the worst OC to ever man the booth at Candlestick. Finally, his first two Head Coaches threw him under the bus publicly. Combine that with with a skill set that needed to develop to be effective, and you have the recipe for Smith's career coming into this season.

Most everyone under the sun (myself included)thought that Smith's time as Niner was done following 2010, and that he would be nothing more than a semi-competent backup QB. Jim Harbaugh looked at the twisted wreck that was Smith and saw a hot rod. All he had to do was give Alex the things that had been denied him. He's given Alex Smith an offense plan that was competent. He's trotted out the offense slowly, waiting until Smith had a good grasp of what he was being asked to do before opening up more of the playbook. But most importantly, he's had Smith's back.

And look at the results. Smith no longer resembles Steve DeBerg. While his yardage numbers are not stellar, he no longer is making the crucial mistakes he used to do. Amazing what a person can do when someone believes in them.

I have more to say, but it will have to wait until after the game!