SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Don’t like Alex Smith? Tired of all those interceptions and high throws? Wish the San Francisco 49ers would bench him?
Forget it. Smith isn’t going anywhere.
Niners coach Mike Singletary is sticking with his quarterback, who struggled again on Sunday despite putting together a couple of encouraging drives against the Atlanta Falcons. In fact, although Smith tossed two interceptions and had a passer rating of 65.6, Singletary said he did a “petty decent job” against the Falcons.
“He just has to do a better job in terms of where to place the ball,” Singletary said. “Sometimes you have to eat it, sometimes you have to try to get rid of it. So in those instances, yes, he was pressing it a bit. But I thought many of his other throws went well.”
Agree or disagree, it means that Smith will continue to start ahead of backups David Carr and Troy Smith. Any notion otherwise would be wrong.
So far, it’s been a struggle. Smith has seven interceptions and two touchdowns, and his 66.1 rating is behind all but three quarterbacks in the league. He ranks 27th in average gain per pass attempt and is tied for 25th in TD passes.
Asked how much accountability he has for the team’s failures, Smith said, “A ton, especially after a loss. I take a lot on my shoulders for (Sunday). Two critical errors and it cost us, looking back. To win consistently, you can’t do that. So no question, as the starting quarterback, a ton.”
As the weeks go by, Singletary’s unflagging support for his quarterback continues to draw questions. Calls for Carr are getting louder, and many wonder why someone wasn’t brought in during the offseason to compete with Smith for the starter’s job.
”I wanted Alex to focus on executing the offense,” Singletary said. “For the first time, you had a coordinator and a system that was in place. (He’s) had five or six coordinators. He’s played a little less than three years with those changes. There’s no consistency anywhere. So the thing I wanted to do is make sure that he had some consistency without trying to compete with somebody else.
”Let’s give him the opportunity to get out there and play football, work through some of the stuff that he’s had to work through.”
The consistency with coordinator Jimmy Raye, of course, was cut short last week when Raye was fired and quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson was promoted. So now Smith begins all over again.
“I think the only person that Alex Smith needed to really compete with this year is himself and get rid of some of the ghosts he already has,” Singletary said. “That’s the competition I felt was the most important thing for him to get rid of. And I think he’s working through that. I think he’s doing a good job of working through that.”
Perhaps. But four games into the season, it hasn’t been enough to get the 49ers a victory.