The kind of throw
Sitting on the Arionza 35, the 49ers had a four-receiver set -- two wideouts left, one right, with tight end
At the 17, Crabtree cut hard to the right, using Morgan as a bit of a pick, and Smith, set up at the Arizona 44, let fly as cornerback
"Great throw by Alex,'' San Francisco GM
No doubt. That led me to my question of the night: Has Smith, the former bust of a first-round pick, done enough to be the 49ers' quarterback in 2010 and beyond?
"He's making progress,'' said McCloughan, "Is he for sure the guy yet? I don't know. We've got three more games after tonight, and he needs to end the season strong. But we're encouraged. We're seeing more and more maturity, and he's growing in this system.
"He's had the benefit of working with
That pass to Crabtree is what the Niners need to be sure Smith can do regularly. He came into the NFL with a rep for good mobility and a very average arm. If he's got a deep threat like Crabtree, he needs to be able to hit him downfield. The pass he threw for the touchdown to Crabtree Monday night was on target and fired crisply from 27 yards away in traffic.
At the end of the year, the San Francisco brass -- and McCloughan surely will be back in 2010 -- will determine if Smith can make that throw consistently. My gut feel is they'll say yes, and they'll look elsewhere with their first-round pick. But as McCloughan said, Smith will have to play well against Philly, Detroit and St. Louis down the stretch.
Three quick observations before getting to your mail:
2. Of course the Cowboys have a bad December history. But let's be careful when we say they choked in the loss to San Diego the other day. Come on. The Chargers entered the game one of the three hottest teams in football, with a killer passing game, and Dallas held them to one touchdown pass and 2.4 yards per rush, outgained them and played a superior team well.
I'm not saying I believe in moral victories. I am saying it's silly to look at this schedule, with two of the best four teams in football (Chargers, Saints) on the sked in Weeks 14 and 15, and when, as expected, they lose the first and may well lose the second, think the Cowboys are choking through another December. You can say they're not as good as you thought they were, or as good as they thought they were. But choke? Other than
3. You've seen
There's a reason Brady, desperate for another target at receiver other than
But the reason you won't ever hear Belichick or Brady even remotely chide Moss is because they know -- as
Now for your e-mail:
I don't know. I have to see how the other contenders play in the last three weeks, and how Manning plays, and how much he plays. I'm not sure it'll change my thought process. At first glance, Manning has led the Colts' to homefield advantage through the AFC playoffs and gotten his team to 13-0 and is contending to have the most accurate passing season ever while breaking in two new receivers with a poor running game and a so-so offensive line. That's the definition of value. But let's see how the last three weeks play out, and how
Well, I'll tell you this -- if
Campbell? Very good question. He's shown excellent progress in the last month. But my feeling is the 'Skins will move on from him. They have an itchy quarterback trigger finger. They wanted
He might, but
Well, of course. You don't give a struggling quarterback like
Randy, I understand how this looks namby-pamby. But if you don't draw a line in the sand about head trauma, there's no way the league is ever going to get a handle on it. Do you think any player with his eggs scrambled in the heat of battle of a huge game, is going to answer the question logically if asked if he wants to go back in the game? He's not, and that's why it has to be taken out of his hands and put in the hands of a neurologist who understands the long-term effects of this stuff.