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Alex Smith Produces Best Stat of All

Posted Oct 3, 2012

Alex Smith is 16-4 in his last 20 regular season starts and yet, people want more.

Such is the case when you’re a quarterback in the National Football League.

But in Smith’s mind, the savvy quarterback’s recent production under coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman all relates to the comfort level of working with the same talented coaches for consecutive seasons.

“I’m really enjoying where I’m at right now,” Smith, the eighth-year veteran said. “I love my teammates, love the entire organization, love going out and doing what I do.”

Smith added that he appreciates how Harbaugh’s always mixing things up, making things fun for the guys inside the locker room.

“He constantly surprises me, for sure,” Smith added. “The great thing, I think, is he just keeps it about football and that makes coming to work fun.”

Under that environment, Smith has thrived in his last 20 outings with Harbaugh on the sideline.

Only Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has won more games in his last 20 starts, going 17-3 with 53 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. Smith and the 49ers defeated Rodgers when the team's met in Week 1.

Smith’s thrown six interceptions in his last 20 regular season games making him one of the toughest quarterbacks for opposing defenses to disrupt.

Furthermore, other top signal callers in the NFL haven’t had the type of success Smith’s enjoyed in the past 20 games.

New England Patriots starter, Tom Brady is 15-5 with 13 interceptions. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is 13-7 with 19 interceptions. Lastly, Atlanta Falcons signal caller Matt Ryan is 14-6 with 14 interceptions.

Currently, Smith’s 49ers offense ranks 30th in passing yards, to which the 49ers quarterback admitted there’s room for improvement. Already this season, there have been 40, 300-yard passing games in the NFL. Smith’s highest output was a 226-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Detroit Lions.

“You only seem to be as happy as your last game,” Smith said. “What you could have done. Turn on the film and as a quarterback, for me, you’re always just could I have done better. What were the throws I could have made, what could I have done differently? Bottom line is getting the win and obviously it was a great win and looking to get better and move on towards the Bills.”

The win column is Smith’s most dominant statistic these days, that and his ability to maintain offensive possessions of the football throughout 60-minute football games.

With the 49ers holding their first practice of the week on Wednesday, Smith discussed the opportunistic personnel he’ll be facing in four days. According to San Francisco’s starting quarterback, Buffalo brings a lot of talent to the table especially on the defensive line.

Harbaugh also pointed out the impressive play of defensive tackle Kyle Williams in particular. Besides having 3.5 sacks in his past three games, Harbaugh raved about the athleticism the defensive lineman brings to the table.

“You’ll see the equivalent of Justin Smith on their side,” Harbaugh explained. “Extremely athletic on the edges. And inside tackle that is maybe the most powerful, athletic tackle in the game. And he doesn’t come out ever. He’s in there on the pass rush downs as well. Big, 330 [-lb.] plus guy that can move.

“It’s impressive when you watch the film, the end zone shot of him lined up in there. He’s a big powerful man that can run. Just their skill and talent and the way they work, it’s very impressive.”

Smith called Buffalo’s entire defense, “a good test for us.”

But Smith also pointed out that he’s pleased with the progress of his offensive line, a unit that has cut down sacks while increasing yards on the ground.

“They’re playing really well,” Smith said of his blockers. “Everything we do starts with them, run and pass, it starts up front. Those guys know that. We put a lot on them, a lot at times, and every week they seem to step up.”

The 49ers didn’t score a passing touchdown last week for the first time all season, but ran for 245 yards and three scores. Meanwhile, Smith’s five touchdowns on the year rank tied for 14th in the league.

Smith attempted several 20-plus yard passes against the Jets, but only converted on two of the throws. Still, Smith’s not discouraged by being kept out of the end zone in the passing game last week.

“Really the couple deep shots we had and really just wish we could have hit them,” Smith said. “We were close; we were close on all of them. It’s a fine line from hitting those.”

Perhaps the most memorable deep ball of Sunday’s win over the Jets featured second-string quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s 58-yard pass into the wind intended for Randy Moss.

Harbaugh said he didn’t mind Kaepenrick throwing into triple-coverage on the play and later praised the young signal caller’s poise and explosiveness when running the football on designed option plays that mirrored the “Pistol” offense he ran in college.

Smith didn’t mind seeing it either.

“It was great to see him get in there and make some plays and help us win,” Smith said.

Smith, himself, will continue to build chemistry with the team’s perimeter targets. If not for downfield contact between Mario Manningham and New York cornerback Kyle Wilson, some of the deep balls could have gone for big gains.

Smith, however, feels at ease throwing deep to tight end Vernon Davis, a veteran who’s hauled in four of Smith’s five touchdown passes.

“He’s someone I feel extremely comfortable with letting the ball go,” Smith explained. “Feel like we have a good relationship, definitely feel comfortable there, you know, and getting there with the other guys.

“You know, it’s funny some days you, you hate saying this, but some days you hit all of them and some days you don’t. It’s kind of like that with the long ball a little bit sometimes. Such a fine line, they’re not high percentage throws. Something I think, practice you get better at, the more you do it you get better.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean the 49ers will attack strictly with vertical passes.

“It’s going to depend on matchups, who we like on the matchup,” Smith said. “No, if a team is going to play conservative, especially the way the Jets did, turn on the film and every week before that, very aggressive. And turn on that film and they were not, a lot of coverage, two high safeties the entire time. So, you’re not going to get as many shots. That’s just the way the game goes.”

San Francisco is expecting a tough matchup with the Bills on Sunday, especially with the visiting team looking to bounce-back from a blowout loss to the New England Patriots.

“This will be the best defensive line that we’ve played so far this year,” Harbaugh said. “And solid defense, again, very aggressive. Can make things happen. Offensively, you see it from the running game. You see the explosion from the passing game. Ability to put up points, and generate those big numbers. Some turnovers have gotten in their way, but if those were eliminated they would be one of the most effective, explosive teams in the National Football League."
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