The time is now for Alex Smith to win

Aug 28, 2010; Oakland, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) reacts during the preseason game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The 49ers defeated the Raiders 28-24. Photo by Image of Sport Photo via Newscom

For those that stayed up to watch the final two minutes of the 49ers’ loss to the Saints on Monday night, you were treated to a rare sight: Alex Smith on the verge of leading his team to victory.

Granted, the 49ers could only tie the game when Smith led them on an 8-play, 82-yard touchdown drive that took only 53 seconds off the clock in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. But the key is that he put them in position to potentially win the game at some point by throwing the ball with pinpoint accuracy, scrambling for extra yards and making smart decisions to keep the chains moving.

In the end, Drew Brees just had too much time on the clock not to lead the Saints to victory. That’s what Brees does – he finds ways to win. And now it’s Smith’s turn to do that very thing.

The 49ers have to win the NL West this year, period. The Rams are rebuilding, the Seahawks are short on overall talent and the Cardinals don’t have a quarterback. Thus, it’s Smith and the Niners’ division to lose.

That said, they’re already 0-2 and now have to go on the road this Sunday to face a 2-0 Chiefs team brimming with confidence right now. Furthermore, Smith is just 16-24 as a starting quarterback, which is why the time is now for him to step up.

While some aren’t enamored with his arm strength, he proved on Monday night that he could throw the ball. Believe it or not, he’s also one of the smartest quarterbacks in the league and this season is the first time in his career that he’s had the same offensive coordinator (Jimmy Raye) and playbook for two years straight.

But he has to win. That’s what great quarterbacks do and while Smith is far from great, he doesn’t have to be at this point. The 49ers don’t come without some glaring weaknesses (i.e. two rookies are starting on the offensive line and some of the decision-making by Raye and head coach Mike Singletary is questionable at best), but the ’08 Lions could win this division. It’s there for the taking.

Smith doesn’t have to be a Pro Bowler and he certainly doesn’t have to live up to his draft status (No. 1 overall). He shouldn’t have to worry about what Aaron Rodgers (who was taken 23 spots after Smith in 2005) is doing in Green Bay either.

But he does have to start fulfilling some of the expectations that have been laid out for him. He has plenty of weapons around him and he’s comfortable in the offense; thus, there are no more excuses. Win now.

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