Smith has seven touchdown passes without an interception when the 49ers are inside their opponents' 20-yard line this season. That sounds great, and it is, but some perspective can help. Quarterbacks tend to throw lots of touchdown passes when they're close to the appropriate end zone. They tend to avoid interceptions, too.
For years, the Seattle Seahawks weekly in-season news release has featured updated information on Matt Hasselbeck's exceptional stats in the red zone. Hasselbeck has 112 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions in the red zone since joining the Seahawks in 2001. He had 12 touchdowns and no interceptions in the red zone during the 2002 season. The ratio was 20-2 in 2007.
This doesn't invalidate the good work Smith is doing in the red zone. He's been very effective there. Smith is completing 76.9 percent of his passes in the red zone, the highest percentage in the league among quarterbacks with at least 20 attempts, according to Keith Hawkins of ESPN Stats & Information. Tony Romo ranks second at 72.7 percent.
Among quarterbacks with no interceptions in the red zone, Peyton Manning (nine) and Tom Brady (eight) are the only ones with more touchdown passes than Smith. Romo, Matt Schaub and Drew Brees also have seven touchdowns and no interceptions in the red zone this season.
It's a good thing for the 49ers when Smith is mentioned among those players in just about any category.