Why Smith should be 49ers' starting QB

November, 9, 2009
11/09/09
9:10
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Charlie suggests via Facebook that I prematurely jumped on Alex Smith's bandwagon by suggesting two weeks ago that the fifth-year quarterback gives the 49ers the best chance to win.

Smith
Mike Sando: You have to realize that I do not and have not considered the 49ers to be a playoff team. If you think they are a playoff team, start Shaun Hill and play it safe. If you want to have a chance to develop something meaningful, play Smith, who still might be better than Hill right now. Watch Hill against the Falcons and tell me Smith is the problem.

It's also misleading to say I jumped on Smith's bandwagon following the comeback he led against the Texans. Here is what I wrote after that game: "Starter Shaun Hill wasn't solely to blame for the 49ers' early troubles, of course, but he was a limiting factor Sunday. Hill checked down to Frank Gore on one play when [Michael] Crabtree might have been open. Smith was much more aggressive pressing the ball down the field and the line seemed to block better for him. The 49ers will find out next week whether the quarterback change produced only a temporary spark. The team's problems at both guard spots and right tackle aren't going away."

Heading into the Colts game a week later, I anticipated a 49ers defeat while writing: "If Smith commands the offense reasonably well and Crabtree builds upon a promising NFL debut, this game against the Colts can still qualify as progress, at least in my view." Smith did command the offense reasonably well in that game.

The 49ers should not suddenly reverse course at quarterback just because Smith threw a couple of late picks while playing catch-up Sunday. Smith definitely locked onto receiver Josh Morgan without regard for Titans safety Chris Hope on the first fourth-quarter interception. That was bad. Let's see how he responds in the coming weeks.

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