Alex Smith Possesses The Clutch Gene

Dec 9, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) throws the ball before the game against the Miami Dolphins at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

I will not use this post to make comparisons between Alex Smith and rookie
quarterbacks who were drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. I
already wrote that article. I will not use this space to say that Alex Smith
is an upgrade from Matt Cassel. If you need me to do that, or you think
Smith isn’t better than Cassel, you probably think the Chiefs will score the
most home runs this year using their football bats and getting past the
opposing goalies.

Nope, this post will be devoted strictly to explaining why I believe Alex
Smith has the “clutch” gene. Yes, I said clutch, as in gets it done under
pressure, doesn’t just manage the clock but goes out and wins football
games, gene. He is clutch.

We all know that Smith didn’t start out his NFL career as well as his No. 1
overall price tag would indicate. Many would call Smith a bust. If you look
only at his stats, I would be inclined to agree with you. But, I’m not just
looking at his stats. Smith is a quarterback, and while the great ones -
Montana, Favre, Brees, Brady – generally make the others around them look
better than they are, there has to be some talent there to begin with.
Smith really had no help in that department his first few seasons in San
Francisco. His first year, his leading receiver was a guy named Arnaz
Battle. Ever hear of him? Yeah, me neither.

So what makes #11 a clutch QB? Is it the ability to sling the football 4000
yards per season? Is it racking up 40 TD’s in one year? Are those stats what
make a QB a clutch player? By that account, Cam Newton of the Carolina
Panthers is the clutchest of the clutch. His rookie year he passed for 4,051
yards, threw 21 TD’s, rushed for 706 yards and 14 more scores on the ground.
But was he clutch? What was the Panther’s record in 2011?  They went 6-10 on
the year, finished third place in the NFC South and obviously didn’t qualify
for the playoffs. On the other hand, in 2011, the 49ers went 13-3, finished
first in the NFC West and were a fumble away from the Superbowl. Despite the
success, Alex Smith’s stats in 2011 were not what many consider top shelf,
or elite for an NFL quarterback. He threw for a career high 3,144 yards and
17 TD’s. While he added 179 yards and two more scores in the rushing game,
his stats were far removed from the Rookie of the Year, Newton. So what’s
the difference? The winning? The playoffs? Was that Smith’s doing, or was it
the defense and the running game?

By 2011, Smith finally had talent in his receivers. While Vernon Davis had
been there as long as Smith, it also took a while for the pass-catching
tight end to come into his own. Let’s not forget, this is the same tight end
who was benched by the “great savior” Mike Singletary, for having a poor
attitude. Smith, also turned the corner in 2011 with his leadership skills
and fire under pressure. While Smith had led comeback victories in seasons
past, he didn’t truly master the art until the week 3 game against the
Philadelphia Eagles, funny enough, against his now head coach, Andy Reid.
Perhaps this was when Reid first discovered the clutch gene in his future
quarterback.

After falling behind to the Eagles 20-3 at halftime, Smith led a crusade
against the City of Brotherly Love and outscored the birds 21-3 in the
second half, including same late 4th quarter heroics that put his running
back, Frank Gore, in position to score the game winning touchdown. Smith
wasn’t perfect on the day, 21/33, 291 yards and 2 TDs, but he got the job
done.

During the playoffs that season, Smith proved his mettle after the famed
49er defense allowed the New Orleans Saints to regain the lead in a back and
forth game with 1:28 on the clock. Smith had just taken the lead in the game
with 1:51 with a perfectly executed bootleg run to the left that allowed #11
to sprint his way into the endzone with the go ahead score and put the 49ers
up by five points with less than two minutes remaining. However, 34 seconds
later, the 49er offense, having barely had time to celebrate their score,
found themselves back on the field, 85 yards from the endzone, and less than
a minute and a half to play.

Smith didn’t cry. He didn’t blink. He went onto the field and led his team
on a seven play drive that ended in a touchdown. I’ve watched the drive so
many times, I could tell you exactly what happens and when. After the huge
catch and run by Vernon Davis, the commentators are talking about setting up
a David Akers field goal to tie the game. If Smith were a game manager, a
facilitator – if Smith weren’t clutch – that’s exactly what would have
happened when they got into range. That’s not what happened. Smith fired a
pass to Davis – into triple coverage – and scored the winning touchdown,
leaving Brees and the Saints only 14 seconds left. Tell me that’s not
clutch.

Smith continued on his winning ways the following season. Out of the gate he
engineered a win against NFC favorites, the Green Bay Packers. Smith went on
in 2012 to win six games and drop two before being injured in the second
quarter of a game against the Saint Louis Rams. Adding to his clutch quality
(albeit a little crazy, considering) Smith stayed in the game and threw a TD
with blurred vision before coming out of the game.

The 49ers have travelled a similar road as the Kansas City Chiefs in the
last couple of years. Both teams have exceptional running games, good
defenses and above average (but not quite elite) wide receiver corps. Both
teams have gone through coaching staffs and especially offensive
coordinators, like most people change their underwear.

Last week Alex Smith took over his football team and started them on the
road to the playoffs in 2013. And that guy who everybody thought should be
drafted No. 1 overall? He fired his agent during a temper tantrum. Is that
clutch? I don’t think so.

Until next time, Addicts.

Topics: Kansas City Chiefs

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  • Justin R Groth

    I liked the article until the swipe at geno in the end because it was unnecessary. First his agent told him not to go to the senior bowl a decision that hurt how he looked to fans and probably coaches. Then his agent ditched him at the draft. Iwould fire him too at that point

    • Doug McD

      We all need to move on. For the record I’m with Jason on this one! And Geno could have just dumped his draft stock at the senior bowl, we’ll never know.
      Nice article Jason!

      • Justin R Groth

        I have moved on, its just between NFL.com and NFL network beating that dead horse I was looking forward to reading an article that didn’t mention Rex or anyother jet while I poured for every ounce of Chiefs news I can get my hand on. Speaking of which one of NFL networks guys thinks the chiefs could give the donkeys a run for their money, that’s one of the few votes of 3rd party confidencei have hears in a while.

        • asmithfan10

          on PFTthere is a jets article where someone moans that the jets get too much coverage, and d-bowe has done dumb things recently that weren’t covered
          what the heck has bowe done lately that I missed?

          • Justin R Groth

            I don’t know I haven’t heard.

          • 7yahweh7

            So in 2010 when Smith had NOBODY to throw to except Davis…. Yeah, He sucks man. Brady would have thrown 8 TD’s per game to those chumps, right?

          • Justin R Groth

            You mean he didn’t have Crabtree too? Because he did and considering Davis and Crabtree were both considered disappointments until 2011 that just puts more emphasis that coaching was to credit for the better niners team we have seen the last two years. However like I said in my original post Alex isn’t great or very good but he is good and much better than say Brady Quinn.

          • 7yahweh7

            Coaching was a big reason, but Smith made his turnaround long before EGObuagh got there. Crab never completed a training camp until 2011, but Davis was considered a fantastic TE before EGObaugh as well. Davis came around in 2010 just like Alex did. But when that happened, dinglebary had already done enough to lose his job. The O-line is overrated even today in pass blocking. Just watch Staley get his A$$ handed to him all day long vs. the NYG and MIN and you’ll see what I mean.

            Since the Car game Alex has put up top 10 numbers in Comp%, yds per attempt, Rating, QBR and INT ratio. As a matter of FACT, when it comes to comp% and INT ratio, he is top 5. In his career, Alex has only thrown ONE red zone INT to 40 TD’s. His red zone TD/INT ratio is better than any other QB in the NFL. If that isn’t great, nothing will ever be, for you.

          • 7yahweh7

            So going 13-3 on a team with the pass drop leaders of the NFL in 2011 isn’t very good?

            You said: “Davis and Crabtree both were considered disappointments until 2011.

            Dude, your comments are based on some of the most idiotic opinions I’ve ever read. For the record, Davis was NOT considered a disappointment in 2009, he was a pro bowler.

            And the results are in: You’re an idiot.

        • 7yahweh7

          Talk about beating a dead horse? You keep bashing Alex and yet you know NOTHING about SF as a team,k what they DIDN’T have in his first 6 seasons, or what he did with the worst WR unit in all of football.

          • Justin R Groth

            Your excuses for Alex being considered a bust befor the 2011 can be said to nearly every first round bust at Qb because good teams usually already have good QBs. Also I’n not bashing Alex Smith I stated my opinion and was asked to back it up with stats which I did. Also before you claim I know nothing about the SF 4ers you should know my Step Mom is from the San Fran area and they are her favorite team so every time they were on and not interfering with KC football I would watch them and I was never impressed with Alex. He is Good but not great and has had issues with consistency his entire career befor Harbraugh.

          • 7yahweh7

            So if Rodgers or Brees played on that crap of an excuse for a team they would have won three Super Bowls by now huh?

            My mom lives by the airport. Now I know to fly a jumbo jet.

          • Justin R Groth

            First are you seriously comparing me watching a football team play and judging the team in a game that I have played/watched my whole life not to mention was a student scout in college to understanding lift by seeing a jumbo jet? Not only was that preposterous it lowered my respect for your comment. However back to Brees and Rodgers. Rodgers has always had a good team so I will give you that however before brees

    • cyberry

      I really don’t know about the agent stuff..but I did think Geno kinda came off like he was pouting after not being drafted in the 1st round, obviously I wasn’t there but the ..”I’m going home” didn’t come across professional..I know that must have sucked but many had predicted him not getting drafted early..he knew what he was getting in to..If he can’t handle that..The New York media is going to tear him apart with any rookie issues..he need to get mentally stronger…fast..

      • Justin R Groth

        There was a report that his family only had there hotel rooms for the one night and his plane was scheduled to leave on day two.So I don’t care if he wanted to leave his family isn’t the moat well off and college football (supposedly) dosen’t pay. Also the general conscientious was he would go in the first round. Honestly it doesn’t matter and I shouldn’t try to defend these guys. It’s just Geno Smith is my age and honestly most 21-23 year olds aren’t the mature people in the world.

        • cyberry

          Like I said..I wasn’t there.. Plus i’m not going to judge a person on what the media says..I wish him well. But I will say..It did make me feel a lot better about getting Alex Smith. Sometimes as fans..we just see the talent and overlook the intelligence of a player.. Worst of all..maturity and how he fits in the locker room or system is completely forgotten. I try to keep this in mind when they pass on a player that I think would a good addition to the team..

          • Justin R Groth

            D but I think he is much better No o agree with you it made swallowing the pill of giving up (
            Hopefully) two 2nd round picks for Alex.I simply felt the comment was unnecessary for this article wich was to explain how Alex was clutch. I don’t think Alex is great or even very good but I think he is lightyears better than what we had last year on the field. I also believe that with Andy, Charles, and Bowe helping him out he can be productive. However that’s another conversation. :)

          • Suzi Conger

            Justin, what facts, stats and supportive data to you have or can quote that supports your statement “…..don’t…..Alex is great……or even very good….”? Because I can tell you (respectfully) that you are dead WRONG; I do have plenty of data/information to verify my statement

          • Justin R Groth

            Because in 8 years he had one and a half good years. Which cam after Harbraugh took over and basically put training wheels on him for moat but not all the time. Back in 2010 he was considered one of the biggest busts in NFL history. After the 2011 year the only team who offered him ny time of day was Miami who drafted Tannahill instead. Many 49ers fans ans even the media were perfectly content with Kapernick taking over at that time. I think he is better than what we have had in the past however averaging 178 yrds 1 td and 0.8 ints per game don’t scream HOF (What I consider to be vert good or great) plus his career record is 38-36-1. Now like I said he was done well in Tue last couple of years but being good for just shy of two seasons isn’t enough for my to call him very good.

          • 7yahweh7

            WRONG!!!! Alex took a major step forward way before EGObaugh was ever even called on the phone. The Carr game made all the difference. After that game, he finished the 2010 season with 8 TD’s and ONE pick. He did that with NOBODY to throw to besides Davis. The niners led the NFL in drops in 2011 and Crabtree had yet to complete a training camp. All you Alex haters CLEARLY know nothing more than what you see on espn.

          • Justin R Groth

            First I’m not a hater I’m a skeptic. and what I’m judging him on games I have seen him play including the 2010 game vs The Chiefs. I’m not saying Alex is bad I’m saying he has had bad games and good ones. I’m not wrong that before Harbraugh Alex was VERY inconsistent. Some of his decision were VERY questionable. throughout his career.

          • 7yahweh7

            It’s easy to say a QB made a questionable decision when you are blind to the fact he has NOBODY else out there worth talking about besides a good TE. I don’t care who is taking the snaps: if he has a crap O-line and crap WR’s he’s gonna be crap.

        • Patriot42

          Most kids his age believe they are the best at every thing they try and will find excuses for each time they don’t live up to the expectations they have.

          • Justin R Groth

            Really that doesn’t need to held to just people of that age group as its a human tendency. Especially now when every one ands thing gets blamed but those who should be accountable (I.e. sueing McDonald’s because we can’t say no to: Supersize?)

        • Jim Harper

          As you so rightly prove! Justin, it is time to get off the Geno bus or move to New York. Alex Smith is out QB. Get on board. Yancy is correct in that New York will rip this guy if he doesn’t perform or has an attitude.

          • William Campbell

            Jets fans are gonna tear geno smith and his crybaby bitch attitude apart. Boo hook I didn’t get drafted in the first.. he woulda been a perfect fit to back up Phillip cry me a rivers in San Diego..
            Glad he wasn’t drafted here

          • Justin R Groth

            I’m sorry but I believe I ha e been very mature and respectful in my comments. Also my defending him has nothing to do with me wanting him to be a chief he isn’t and won’t be. I simply thought the article was not improved on by making a swipe on a guy who hasn’t played a down. Besides that one sentence I really liked the article. It helped me convince my self we could be good again. I

          • Darkwolf1414

            That was real mature, Jim. Justin’s comments were well thought out and he was speaking from his experience. Most 21 – 23yo don’t see their lack of maturity, whereas Justin is seeing that people his age do tend to have shortcomings in that area. His comments showed no measure of level in maturity. Yours certainly showed your maturity, or lack thereof.

          • Justin R Groth

            Thank you for your comments on my behalf I apologize that you were given a negative vote for your efforts.

          • Suzi Conger

            Yes indeed Jim. I am also tired of hearing about Geno S.

    • Brody Hall

      If u ask me his agent did a damn good job keeping all of this out of the media before draft day. I was an avid Geno guy but now im glad we didnt get his cray baby, diva ass. Good call R&D Alex smith was the best QB any team could have got and we did that with a second rounder! However I still feel we could have landed him with a 3rd rounder and then we would have Manti on our roster… Oh well… Go get Urlacher for a 2 year deal and all is forgiven!

    • William Campbell

      But it was true…

      • Justin R Groth

        From our perspective. To be honest we have no idea why he fired him hell he might of left a candy wrapper on his desk AMD that irked the kid. (Is it weird I refer to people my age and older as kids?)

  • John Wright

    Hey I don’t mind the Geno swipe because he was overrated from the start. Everyone kept calling for us to draft him number 1, why? It’s almost as if everyone forgets we do have a number 1 draft pick next year and another one the year after that and so on. Why would we take Smith number 1 when NO ONE wanted him in the 1st round! Enough about him thank God we didn’t take him. I like Alex Smith as a good replacement for now and remember when we picked up Trent Green, how many of you out there thought he was going to be as good as he was for us?

    • calciomoti

      I was all for Geno, and mostly because I just want to see us draft a QB in the first round. After this temper tantrum, I am glad I was not making the picks…guess ill just stick to Madden drafting, and leave the real chiefs to the real experts.

      • Jim Harper

        Good advice

  • Brody Hall

    If u ask me his agent did a damn good job keeping all of this out of the media before draft day. I was an avid Geno guy but now im glad we didnt get his cray baby, diva ass. Good call R&D Alex smith was the best QB any team could have got and we did that with a second rounder! However I still feel we could have landed him with a 3rd rounder and then we would have Manti on our roster… Oh well… Go get Urlacher for a 2 year deal and all is forgiven!

    • tm1946

      Bit of a pinch point about MLB, got more than a few on the roster, so I doubt Urlacher is on any Chiefs memo pad.
      But we sure could use another WR, I just do not see Baldwin figuring it out. Avery has some speed but another to fill in the slot or 4WR sets. I do not even see Baldwin even in the NFL, just not got “it”.

    • William Campbell

      People say “we coulda got him for a 3rd” all the time but how are we to know that? Maybe there were other teams involved

      • Suzi Conger

        AZ wanted AS11 bad, but Harb blocked the trade… Chiefs and Alex got the good deal…AS11 is SUPER.. take it from an X-SF9er

    • asmithfan10

      except they couldn’t have just got him for a single third. I mean really, they didn’t just go in there and throw out 2 potential 2nd rounders. give me a break!

  • tm1946

    Isn’t it about time fans get on board with Alex? He will be given every chance to succeed just like almost every QB in the history of the Chiefs. I am talking 2-3 years unless one of the subs steps up or an injury effects things. He and Reid are tied at the hip for now.
    If the Chiefs are to win it will probably be with Alex running things. Want Arrowhead filled and rolling…..hello Alex.

    • asmithfan10

      it will be trent green all over again if this works out

      if he struggles, they will create a new nickname based around whatever he is doing that is bothering them. then when he starts to play well, the fan base will get behind him, but there will still be a majority of these keyboard warriors who really are only happy when the chiefs are failing so that they can point at “true fans” and make themselves feel better about dumping on one of the few things they love

      fact is, some suck with relationships, loving the chiefs is just that. IMO 30 percent of the people posting about the chiefs are either pure trolls, fans of other teams, or, that guy in “major league” who roots against his team til they win a playoff game, then he “told you so”

  • Troy Utt

    Great read Jason… I could not agree more and took much grief early on from those on the “Geno-Bus”… Come to think of it, I have not seen the driver around for awhile??? LOL…
    When you look at A. Smith’s stat’s especially in red zone and fourth quarter it gives me hope as a Chief’s fan for the upcoming season! I just hope we have enough at the WR position…Can Baldwin step up this year? Or must we go-fish in FA if at all possible? for the few that are left?

  • Jim Harper

    Great post Jason. Always love your posts. Mostly because you think like I do. Keep up the great work!

  • Chief Hokie

    It’s a bit of a stretch to compare Newton and Smith’s “clutch-ness” by their teams’ records. Let’s not forget Carolina had the first pick for a reason – they were the worst team in the nfl. Of course the niners are going to have a better record.

    • Ninersfan4

      Agreed comparing apples to oranges as far as teams, but I will point out that often you see those high passing games when teams are playing from behind and QB’s have nothing to lose so they sling it around. Not always the case but the 49ers offense was by design a safe and sustain drives kind of offense. Football is the ultimate team sport and it takes all of the players on the field to make it work. I will take the “W” every time over the stats!

    • Justin R Groth

      also it took awhile for Alex to catch on. Unless Newton gets 4+ years to try before they give up on him he should never be compared to Alex.

      • 7yahweh7

        Yeah. It generally takes a while to “catch on” when you have to learn a new playbook EVERY YEAR for 5 years in a row.

  • asmithfan10

    yep. Smith has what Cassel doesn’t. some people are able to handle pressure. I cannot handle pressure. It is what it is, and I will shake like a leaf. we all saw matt cassel do the exact same thing, and that just can’t happen at the pro level at quarterback!
    smith is a real man, he does not break under pressure and is battle tested. lot of faith in smith. he won’t be the REASON the chiefs lose games. he WILL be the reason the team is able to close out some close games.

  • Gopal Rao

    Smith also made a pretty nice 4th quarter pass to win the game against Detroit in 2011 as well. I think it was a slant route to Delanie Walker against tight coverage.

    Really though, Alex’s game evolved in the direction of game manage when you can, and make big plays when that’s the only option. He has said as much himself, citing the waning days of the Singletary era as his big turning point.

  • James Harper

    No joke, Alex will lead the KC to the playoffs. It’s in the bag. Smith will guide the Chiefs to a 5-1 division record with the only loss to DEN on the road…I watched this guy play his entire career and he is a winner. He never complains and only works hard. he is so dam smart it isn’t funny. All those OC’s actually helped him bc he learned a whole new offense every year so there’s not to much he hasn’t seen.

    He is going to throw 25 TD’s and 8 INT…3800 yards, plus he’ll run a bit, especially with the pistol installed…by the end of training camp Bowe and Charles are going to gush about Smith’s ability’s and what he brings to the team…12-13 wins is not out of reach….

  • Suzi Conger

    Great article Jason, thanx. As an X-SF9er ( now KCC ), I’ve been an AS11 proponent since the Singletary days; when I could clearly see that Alex was not the problem, but rather coaching/management

  • Hacksaw 46

    Chief Fans, I have been a 49er fan since going to my first game in 1956. I have seen a lot of good and great Qbs.Your organization has given you a Very good Qb on the cusp of greatness. Alex came to the 9ers when the franchise was at its low point, He was tested with some of the most bone headed coaches that you can imagine. The team was completely restructured to be a running team, built around Frank Gore. It is well documented about how many OCs he had to work with, it is notable that many of the OC left because of the coaching philosophy , muddled at best , down right criminal in some cases. But through those first 8 years battling through injury and coaching incompetence Alex grew into the complete QB. I am sorry to see him leave SF but at the same time glad to see him in an organization , The Kansas Chiefs, that under stand what this guy can and will do. Count your selves blessed, you have a winner that will lead your team to the promise land!

  • 7yahweh7

    Justin R Groth says Vernon Davis was a disappointment until 2011. I guess going to the pro bowl in 2009 and breaking the single season record for TD’s by a TE was disappointing.

    Justin R Groth = complete idiot. The guy talks out of his A$$ so much I would be amazed if he doesn’t put lip stick on it.

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