Fri, Nov 25 2011 04:02 PM Posted By: Paul Martinez
It's been seven long years in the NFL, but Helix High alum Alex Smith may have finally arrived.
After last year's disappointing 6-10 season platooning with Troy Smith under then coach Mike Singletary, the former No. 1 pick was rehired, almost as an afterthought.
Smith's original $49.5 million six-year contract was up, but ex-University of San Diego football head coach and new 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh decided to keep him on. The fee for his one-year contract: a bargain $5 million.
Expectations were as low as his salary — the 49ers were projected by Sports Illustrated to finish 5-11, last in their division. But as of this week, the 9-1 49ers lead the NFC West largely on the strength of Smith's arm and Harbaugh's tough new attitude.
Through 10 games, Smith sported a 93 quarterback rating and a 13-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
As Harbaugh, an ex college QB himself, installed his system, Smith vied with Colin Kaepernick for the starting spot.
After the 49ers beat the Chargers in the final preseason game, Harbaugh went with Smith. The Niners won their opener, then dropped an OT decision to Dallas before stringing together their current eight-game winning streak.
Smith and the 49ers drew a Thanksgiving Day assignment at 7-3 Baltimore — a team coached by Jim Harbaugh's brother John.
Smith has posted some exceptional numbers this season: 1,976 passing yards and a 62.4 percent completion ratio.
Could he be due for a raise next year?
© 2009 The Star-News