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The Invincible M.A.E.


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Tim Lincecum
harleymae

Is a 49ers quarterback controversy the NFL equivalent of a pillow fight?

Anyone watching FlashForward? It's not bad so far. One thing that struck me while watching the show was that Joseph Fiennes really reminds me of Christopher Meloni, which is weird because he really doesn't look like him at all. But then somebody on a podcast said that he really reminded him of Christopher Meloni too!

Sporting News named Timmy NL pitcher of the year. :) He was picked by a panel of GMs and assistant GMs.

I thought he was even better this season than he was last year, even though his win total is lower. That's really the fault of the offense, though. :P He induced a lot more ground outs and fly balls, instead of getting all of his outs by strikeout (even though he got a lot of those too) which let him go much deeper into games. I think he only had one complete game last season and that one was kind of arduous. This year he had a few. He also stopped wilting as much in hot weather. :P

I can't really compare him to Carpenter or Wainwright because I haven't watched them pitch enough. It would be nice if he wins the Cy Young again, but I'm not going to be upset if he doesn't.

And and and... Alex Smith has been named starting QB for the next game. I am so proud I could burst!

Alex Smith: Unfinished Business
Taylor Price
Posted Oct 28, 2009

Alex Smith didn’t think a seven-week stint as the 49ers backup quarterback to start the season was necessary in fueling his competitive fire.

That flame has always been burning, and has been particularly bright for almost two years now.

Ever since Smith lost his starting spot due to shoulder injuries, the former No. 1 overall pick has been working diligently to reclaim his role with the team.

After last Sunday’s 21-0 first half deficit to the Houston Texans, Smith came in the game with nothing to lose. Ultimately, he ended up regaining his role with the 49ers first-team offense, which head coach Mike Singletary announced the following day.

“I don’t think I ever lost confidence,” the five-year pro said on Wednesday of his performance against the Texans. “It had been two years since I played in a live game, yeah I had played in some preseason games, but that is always different. I think it is more just getting back out there. It felt the same. It always did, especially when you get in the rhythm of things out there playing.”

It’s been a grueling road back for Smith, who will start this Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts for the first time since Nov., 12, 2007 at Seattle. Smith tried to come back early from a separated shoulder two years ago and could not regain full strength in his arm right away.

Smith tried to come back to help his team, but he was not the same player.

A year removed from the injury, Smith was looking to become the team’s starter at the start of the 2008 season. But he struggled to pick up Mike Martz’s complex offense, the fourth different offensive coordinator he had worked with in as many seasons.

Smith won the team’s No. 2 job behind J.T. O’Sullivan ahead of Shaun Hill, but was placed on injured reserve when he re-injured his throwing shoulder three days before the start of the season.

After all that, Smith decided to re-structure his contract with the 49ers this past offseason. No longer was he being paid like a starting quarterback, Smith agreed to a two-year deal to compete with Hill to be the team’s starter.

Both showed signs of emerging as the leader in the competition, but in the end, Singletary went with Hill, who he felt could best lead the team to victory Week 1 at Arizona. Hill got the 49ers out to a 2-1 start and was one Brett Favre miracle throw away from being 3-0.

But the 49ers are 1-3 since beating Seattle Week 2 and Singletary decided it was time for a change.

Now that Smith’s the guy once again, he feels like the way he carries himself hasn’t changed.

“People might perceive things different than you might. I feel like I have always approached this game the right way,” Smith said. “I have always worked incredibly hard, put a lot of time in. I knew that counted and made a difference. I think the thing is over time you get smarter about it, you are more efficient with your time – you are doing better things with it.”

On the contrary, Smith’s head coach has seen a change for the better.

“Alex is a totally different guy today than he was even six months ago,” Singletary explained. “I think his mindset is clear. The thing that spoke volumes to me about him was in the offseason he had a chance to move on and go to another team and make more money. But, he decided to stay because he felt that he wanted to be a part of what was here. He wanted to finish what he started.

“To me, that speaks volumes for who he is and the kind of person that he is.”

Besides deciding to merely stick it out with his original team, Smith was involved in every team meeting while he was out with injuries. The time around the facility with his teammates got the attention of his teammates but not the respect – that’s something they’ve had for him since day one.

“This is the first time he’s been in playing fully healthy in a long time and he does a great job of being prepared,” said Joe Staley, the team’s starting left tackle and Smith’s roommate on the road. “We have a ton of confidence in his ability to make plays.”

Smith stepped in last week against the Texans and instantly began moving the team with his right arm, completing 15-of-22 passes for 206 yards and three touchdown passes to tight end Vernon Davis. It was the second time of Smith’s career he had tossed three scores in one game, the other time happened in 2006, in a victory over the Oakland Raiders.

Although his comeback bid came up short, Smith looked decisive, comfortable and confident against Houston.

The same characteristics can’t be used to describe Smith’s first NFL start, which happens to be against the Colts, the same team he’ll see this Sunday.

“That was a good game,” Smith said sarcastically, referring to his 9-of-23, 74-yard, four-interception performance. “I think it’s just coincidence, back starting again against the team I got my first start against. A lot has changed since then.”

Smith has grown up a lot since that Oct., 9, 2005 meeting, and so has the Colts defense which enters Sundays contest as the NFL’s 9th overall defense.

“There are some things similar, but I wouldn’t call it the same defense,” Smith said. “They have kind of changed from what I remember, a lot more of the Tampa 2 in the pass than you see today.”

Probably the most important change to Smith’s meeting with the Colts this time around is the level of expectation surrounding his play. Back then, Smith was playing based on potential – now, he’s playing based on production.

“I probably had that excuse when I was younger. Now I have to go out there and produce, go out there and play. There’s no more wait and see.”

So if he doesn't throw 4 interceptions again, the game will be an improvement! :P

Kawakami: 49ers, Singletary were ready to flip the switch
By Tim Kawakami
Mercury News Columnist
Posted: 10/25/2009 05:27:59 PM PDT
Updated: 10/26/2009 08:11:24 AM PDT

HOUSTON — He wasn't the second coming of Joe Montana, obviously. Not ever.

But maybe Alex Smith can pull off something almost as remarkable after his long NFL hibernation.

Can he be the successful second coming of "... Alex Smith?

What a tale that would be. It won't happen overnight. But one essential part of the Smith resurrection story took place in a blink:

With the 49ers trailing 21-0 Sunday in a game they would go on to lose 24-21, coach Mike Singletary decided to sit Shaun Hill and put in Smith to start the second half.

Just like that, the 49ers' universe changed.

It was a surprise to Smith — "I wasn't sure, I guess I was ready for anything," he said later.

A surprise to his offensive teammates, many of whom didn't know the switch had occurred until Smith showed up in the huddle.

A surprise to practically everybody in the NFL, where it has been assumed Singletary was reasonably committed to Hill.

"I just felt it was time to make the switch," Singletary said later. "No long, drawn-out thought process. Just, hey, you know what? Let's make the change."

Singletary also said he doesn't know which quarterback will start Sunday in Indianapolis, but there should be no mystery, and Singletary had to know it.

When you make a quarterback change and your season is on the line and the new guy is better than the former guy, you stay with the new guy. Who happens to be the former guy twice removed, but, oh, well.

It will be Smith, who has the stronger arm, fresher legs and much greater capacity to get the ball downfield to the 49ers' weapons.

It won't be Hill, who was flummoxed in the 49ers' previous loss to Atlanta and who struggled again in Sunday's first half as the offense stalled.

The 49ers' record fell to 3-3, quite a comedown from the roar of their 3-1 start. They need someone to convince them, once again, that they're good.

That would be Smith. Amazingly, he is their best hope.

"You know, we've got playmakers on the field," Singletary said. "If we can get the ball to them, we've got a chance to do some good things."

On his first pass Sunday, Smith fired a 17-yard completion to Michael Crabtree (key new weapon). Bingo.

Smith went on to hit on his next five passes, looked calm in the pocket and generally made every 49ers fan wonder where the heck that had been in the previous four seasons.

Smith threw a touchdown pass to Vernon Davis. Then another. Then a third (tying Smith's career-high for touchdown passes in a game), while hooking up nicely with Crabtree a few more times along the way.

All with his heart beating wildly.

"I'd be lying to you if I said it wasn't," Smith said. "Just because it had been a while since I really took some game snaps. So, no question, it's nice to get in there and finally get sweating and not thinking about it anymore."

This wasn't the same antsy guy who was awful as a rookie, decent but fragile in Year 2, bad and then hurt in 2007, lost in 2008 and not terrific in the training-camp battle with Hill this year.

Smith hadn't played a down since Nov. 12, 2007, but he didn't look rusty. It might have been only a temporary flash, but this was Smith the way he was supposed to be — and the way the 49ers' offense was supposed to be — from the moment he was chosen No. 1 overall in 2005.

At the end, Smith couldn't convert the 49ers' final drive — his fourth-down pass was short of Isaac Bruce and was intercepted by Eugene Wilson — and the Texans held on.

But he gave them a shot. Smith was the igniter.

Stat line: Smith completed 15 of 22 passes for 206 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception, for a 118.6 passer rating.

"It's a longtime coming," receiver Arnaz Battle said of Smith. "He's gone through a lot."

Yes, he has, and yet Smith still is only 25. He is the favorite of general manager Scot McCloughan and he has a better chance of enlivening this offense than any other 49er.

Naturally, Singletary said he needed to look at the film when asked if he thought Hill played poorly. But every smoke signal points to Smith at quarterback, for at least a few weeks, just to see how long this lasts.

"I don't like going back and forth," Singletary said.

Alex Smith is back. More than four years after he joined this franchise, he's back, precisely when they need him most.

Oh boy, this one made me a bit weepy. Because I thought he was gone, too. I even (sadly) replaced my 49ers icon of him with the current one of Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and Patrick Willis.

Smith to start at QB for 49ers
John Crumpacker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 27, 2009

(10-26) 13:02 PDT Santa Clara -- Not many professional athletes ever get to re-invent themselves with their original teams. Alex Smith is one such athlete.

The 49ers' quarterback of the past is now their quarterback of the present, and quite possibly the immediate future as well. It's up to Smith to play his way back into the role he was given in 2005 after San Francisco made him the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

"It's not going to be an easy road," Smith said. "You have to fight through. You have to stay level-headed. ... You never know when (an opportunity will) come. That's the hard part about it. You have to be ready. It's a cliche, but it's the truth."

Coach Mike Singletary announced Monday that Smith is his quarterback, a day after he led the 49ers to 21 points in the second half at Houston by throwing three touchdown passes, all to tight end Vernon Davis.

"I had to make a decision based on who I felt gives us the best chance to win," Singletary said. "I feel Alex gives us the best chance to win. I think Alex has had a chance to regain some of the confidence, not that he ever lost it. It gave him a chance to settle in and watch Shaun Hill."

Singletary pulled an ineffective Hill at halftime in Houston, hoping Smith would give the offense a spark. Though the 49ers ended up losing 24-21, Smith led three touchdown drives in four possessions, convincing Singletary to go back to this former franchise quarterback as he tries to slough off the ruins of his young career.

"It's what I've been waiting for," Smith said. "I've been out for two years now. I don't know if I was getting any hungrier. I've always wanted to play this game at a high level. That's not going to change."

The one salient fact to keep in mind with Smith is this: He's only 25 years old. Teams generally do not throw away young quarterbacks with potential. Smith was the youngest player in the NFL in each of his first two years with the 49ers.

The string of rotten luck the last few years forced him to mature while gaining perspective from the remove of the sideline. In the process, his bum shoulder of 2007-08 healed and he's now throwing pain-free for the first time since early in the '07 season.

"I don't think about it. I didn't think about it yesterday," Smith said of his twice-repaired right shoulder. "Haven't thought about it in awhile."

Hill was disappointed with Monday's development but said it would have no effect on his friendship with Smith. Hill was a groomsman in Smith's wedding.

"Neither one of us has exactly had it easy in this league," said Hill, 8-6 in his time as the 49ers' starter. "We've both had our ups and downs. It's frustrating. It's disappointing. It's not going to hold me down. It didn't hold him (Smith) down, either. That's what it takes to survive in this league."

Rough roller-coaster

Smith's journey from anointed starter (2005-06) to starter playing hurt (2007) to injured reserve (2008) to backup (2009) and now the starter was a tortured one involving hits from defenders, abuse from fans and a fractured relationship with his former head coach.

In 2007, trying to play through the pain of an injured shoulder that eventually would require surgery, Smith said he thought then-coach Mike Nolan had "undermined" him with his teammates by suggesting the quarterback was not tough enough.

The shoulder injury limited Smith to seven games in '07 and none in '08 as he went on injured reserve and eventually had a second surgery to repair the sum total of the damage.

It seemed that Smith's run with the 49ers had come to an end after 30 starts and an 11-19 record, especially when general manager Scot McCloughan said he could not keep Smith on the roster as a backup making starter's money.

Instead of looking elsewhere, Smith looked within and decided he wanted to stay right where he was. It took a substantial cut in pay to make it work, but that's what Smith did in March of this year when the last two years of his original 2005 rookie contract were redone at a sacrifice of more than $16 million to him.

That old deal would have earned him a total of $24.67 million for 2009 and 2010. His new contract will pay him $4 million in '09 and the same amount in '10.

"I don't measure myself in terms of what I'm making," Smith said at the time. "Having gone through what I've gone through the last couple years, being on the sideline, I guess I've got a different perspective on the game. I wanted the chance to compete."

Another new offense

Along the way, Smith's development as an NFL quarterback was retarded by a parade of one-and-done offensive coordinators for each of his first four seasons with the 49ers. He's now on No. 5 with Jimmy Raye, learning yet another offense.

In explaining why he's going with Smith instead of Hill, Singletary said, "It's probably a combination of a number of things - getting settled, you have another coordinator coming in, you have an offense where you're trying to work things through with your shoulder. Let the guy get settled. Let him develop that hunger. Let him get excited if he gets the opportunity again ... rather than put him in there at the beginning of the season."

When he sent Smith into the second half at Houston on Sunday, Singletary said, "I really didn't know what we were going to get. I was hoping we'd get what we saw in practice, and that is what we got."

Smith and Hill are both popular with their teammates. Monday's move by the head coach did not create a schism in the locker room.

"I've always believed in Alex," Davis said after catching three touchdown passes from the man. "Sometimes it takes certain guys a little longer to come around. Alex stepped in and made good decisions on throwing the ball. He stepped up. I was proud of him for that."

More downs than ups

Career of Alex Smith
2005

-- Selected by 49ers with first overall pick in NFL draft.

-- First rookie to start game at QB for 49ers since 1997 (Jim Druckenmiller), but hampered by knee injury (four games inactive), passing (11 interceptions, one touchdown) and reputedly small hands.
2006

-- Became first 49ers quarterback to take every snap of the season.

-- Led memorable fourth-quarter comeback at Seattle with two TD passes and a TD run.
2007

-- Shoulder woes began with separation Sept. 30. Returned a month later and started three games before missing more time and ultimately going on injured reserve.

-- Status of shoulder became sore point between Smith and head coach Mike Nolan.
2008

-- Offseason quarterback competition won by J.T. O'Sullivan, over Smith and Shaun Hill.

-- Went on injured reserve with shoulder injury Sept. 10 and had surgery Oct. 30.
2009

-- To the surprise of many, Smith remained with 49ers, signing a restructured contract March 10.

-- Hill named starter Aug. 24.

-- Smith makes first appearance Sunday and finishes 15-for-22 for 206 yards and three TDs. It was his second-best yardage total since October 2006.

I still can't fucking believe that JT O'Sullivan was our QB. WTF. I still remember how happy I was when instead of being released, Alex restructured his contract to make much less money and stayed on with the team as a backup. My respect for him grew so much when he did that.

Ugh, I can't find the article again, but I read something that was pretty accurate about the Texans game. Alex was coming in down 21-0 and there wasn't any pressure on him. It's a good situation. The team that's up tends to relax a bit, and the team that's behind feels free to play loosely and try creative things. So the real question is how does he perform when he knows he's going in as the starter?

It's not that I dislike Shaun Hill. I just think he's a placeholder and I think the longer he's in there, the more of a waste of time it is when the real QB (whoever that may be) isn't playing. Alex has the potential to be something more than a placeholder, and that's why I support him on a football/practical level. On an emotional level, I just like the guy. :)

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I was watching Flash Forward, not bad so far. Not really any standout new shows this season yet. Liking Flash Forward the best.

Yeah, I totally agree. I'm watching a few new shows but none that I really love or anything. I hope they delve more into the philosophical issues as the show goes on.

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