I remember how great Alex Smith was, becoming a star quarterback out of Utah, then becoming the first overall pick of the 2005 NFL Draft, being selected by the San Francisco 49ers.

His first season in the league was god-awful, throwing for 875 yards with one touchdown, but eleven interceptions! He would finish with a 40.8 rating.

Smith got a chance to shine the next season, playing okay with 2,890 passing yards and 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions with a 74.8 rating; playing all 16 games.

However, he only played seven games the next year in 2007, finishing with 914 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions, plummeting down to a 57.2 rating.

Smith did improve the next two seasons, but only played eleven games each with other quarterback problems that arose. With Smith struggling, the 49ers switched around several times with their QB's, even starting Troy Smith for a bit.

Smith would have 2,350 yards with 18 touchdowns and twelve interceptions for a 81.5 rating in 2009. The next season, it was more disappointing, with 2,370 yards with 14 touchdowns and ten interceptions and a 82.1 rating.

With those two seasons being his best, it did not look good at all for a first-overall draft pick. Smith has been scrutinized for much of his career, and as Jim Harbaugh was announced as the new head coach of the 49ers, it seemed like the Niners were taking a new approach for the future of the franchise.

And that answer looked like it would be Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick was second-round draft pick for the 49ers in the 2011 draft, looking to start over Smith. It just seemed as if the Smith era was now finally over.

However, Smith was brought back for another year, and was named starting quarterback for San Francisco. In my opinion, it just seemed crazy! How many times are they going to give this guy chances? I was looking for another bad year in Smith.

So far, it seemed like it kind of. Smith had a positive game in week one with a 33-17 victory over the Seahawks. Smith was accurate, going 15-of-20, but only could produce 124 passing yards. However, he did finish with a 90.4 rating.

The next game, Smith played well again on paper, going 16-of-24 for 179 yards with two touchdowns and one pick, finishing with a 99.1 rating in a 27-24 overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Smith was doing well, and the next game had a 85.6 rating; going 20-of-30 for 201 yards in a 13-8, ugly victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Even though Smith looked pretty good, I still wasn't sold at all if he was the guy and was going to produce good numbers for the year.

But then came week four and five, as Smith got hot as ever. It would start off with a comeback victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, 24-23, as Smith erupted for 291 yards with two touchdowns and a 112.1 rating. Smith would then put up great numbers again, having 170 yards, but with three touchdowns and a 127.2 rating in a 48-3 shootout against the Buccaneers.

Surprisingly, the 49ers are now 4-1, and could've been 5-0 if it weren't for a struggling ending of the Cowboys game.

After that strong showing versus Tampa Bay, Smith received what he finally deserved: respect from his fans. Walking towards the locker room, Smith received a standing ovation from the crowd.

He was finally playing like he should've been, as the 49ers are now off to their best start since 2002! Smith has taken off the criticism and has is now so far having the best year of his career, having 965 yards with seven touchdowns and only one pick, having a 104.1 rating to start off the year.

"You can't be sensitive," Smith said. "I think it's tough to play quarterback in the NFL if you don't (have a thick skin). That's anywhere. You're going to face scrutiny. That's the way it is."

Jim Harbaugh has really changed this team and has been a huge difference as the offensive-minded coach has been great with quarterbacks. He helped Andrew Luck become the solid QB he is right now. And now, he is making Smith look like the elite quarterback he was destined to become seven years ago. He has been such an efficient quarterback.

In fact, Smith has improved so much that he already has more career passing touchdowns (58) than interceptions (54), something that we haven't seen since...well, never!

But what has been the key to Smith being so good now?

"I think consciously, I'm just trying to do less, if that makes sense," Smith told the San Francisco Gate. "I really felt like I was doing too much for a long time. Pressing too hard, trying to make too many plays instead of just letting them come to me. And that's kind of what I talked about playing within a system, just being myself and let the plays happen. Really, not forcing things. Make good decisions, and I think the good plays will come."

Smith was 21-1 as Utah's quarterback in college, and only has one loss this year. However, this year and college are not the same for Smith.

"Schematically no," Smith said. "The one thing, maybe, is the same feeling I had is that I really feel I'm doing less. I really feel I'm playing within the system, doing my job, trying to make the plays when they're there to be made and not forcing anything.

"That's the way I felt in college."

But Smith is playing well now. He's finally playing like the 49ers were hoping for him to be when they drafted him in 2005. Now there is no regrets. Smith is their guy.

He's playing great now.

Just the way he should be.


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