Through the halfway point of the 2011 NFL season, the 49ers have to be the most surprising team in the league. They play in by far the weakest division in football but have only faced one opponent from that division. Despite some tough games against teams like the Bengals, Bucs, Eagles, and Lions, San Francisco has the second-best record in football behind only the defending Super Bowl champions. You may have picked them to win the NFC West, but no one called 7-1 after eight games.
Believe it or not, Alex Smith has been a huge part of their success. To his credit, Jim Harbaugh has stuck with Smith since he took over. Many believe it is Harbaugh’s confidence that has led to Smith’s success, which is a definite possibility. In any event, Harbaugh obviously thinks very, very highly of his quarterback after eight games.
“I think people that know football and understand the game appreciate Alex Smith as a very talented quarterback,” the 49ers coach said according to CBSSports.com. “He’s every bit the elite quarterback as there is playing in the game right now.”
It doesn’t take a genius — even a disgruntled Niners fan — to know that Smith is not one of the best quarterbacks in football. He’s on pace to throw for less than 3,000 yards and has only 10 touchdown passes through eight games. The most important statistic is his two interceptions. Harbaugh has found a way to perfectly utilize the former first overall pick, and Smith is rewarding him with great results. In reality, Smith probably isn’t even in the top-10 quarterbacks in the NFL. But if Harbaugh calling him one of the best signal-callers in the league has led to a 7-1 record, who can blame him?Google+