It is amazing, not in a positive way, when a quarterback gets benched a year after leading his team to the conference championship game and who was leading the league in completion percentage. But injury brought upon the Alex Smith benching and the inception of the Colin Kaepernick era, and Smith hasn’t started a game since.
For the ‘Niners, the benching proved to be beneficial (see: Colin Kaepernick).
Smith, however, has played well over the past two seasons with accuracy and poise. In the 2011 playoffs, Smith took his offense to the Saints’ 14-yard-line with 14 seconds left. Smith threw a game winning touchdown to Vernon Davis to win 36-32. The way Smith brought his team the length of the field with less than two minutes remaining showed he has poise and was not shaken by the timing or clutch factor.
A year later, Smith contributed for his team well, leading the league in completion percentage until he got hurt (concussion). His physical attributes are present: he is mobile, escapes pressure, and efficiently gets the ball to open receivers. Smith may be considered only a game manager, but I believe he is a solid quarterback. He’s definitely better than the man who was under center for the Chiefs last season.
The 49ers will not end up regretting the decision to bench Smith: Colin Kaepernick showed the coaching staff that he could step up to the challenge and stay poised, with his breathtaking speed and ball accuracy. His astounding play resulted in the starting position for the remainder of the season. But Smith bolted out of California as soon as free agency started.
The Chiefs picked up a franchise quarterback. He will be a big help to the offense by delivering passes to the talented receivers and tight ends (Dwayne Bowe and Tony Moeaki. Matt Cassel is a below-average quarterback; he isn’t very accurate or mobile. He has regressed since his Pro Bowl year in 2010 where Kansas City actually won the AFC West.
There is other significant talent on a team that produced five Pro Bowlers last season: one of them being Jamaal Charles. Placed in the top 20 of NFL Network’s “Top 100 Players of 2013”, he has explosive speed and is more effective on outside gaps. Pitches and stretch runs are part of his strengths – he is almost impossible to slow down in the open field. He will certainly help Alex Smith if new head coach Andy Reid can use him correctly and effectively.
Kansas City finally has a solid quarterback, although they may not be completely ready to compete in a division that features Peyton Manning on a different team.