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Alex Smith

Alex Smith during the 2009 NFL season.
No. 11     San Francisco 49ers
Personal information
Date of birth: May 7, 1984 (1984-05-07) (age 25)
Place of birth: Bremerton, Washington
Height: 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) Weight: 217 lb (98 kg)
Career information
College: Utah
NFL Draft: 2005 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1
Debuted in 2005 for the San Francisco 49ers
Career history
 As player:
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2009
TD-INT     37-43
Passing yards     7,029
QB Rating     69.2
Stats at

Alexander Douglas "Alex" Smith (born May 7, 1984 in Bremerton, Washington) is a professional American football quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League. Smith was drafted with the 1st-overall pick in the 1st round of the 2005 NFL Draft by San Francisco. He played college football at Utah.


Early Life

Smith is from Bonita, CA. He has one brother and two sisters. His father, Douglas D. Smith, is the principal at the high school Alex attended, Helix High School. His uncle is John L. Smith, former head coach for the Michigan State University Spartans’ football team. His second cousin is Houston Astros first baseman Chris Shelton.

He played football at Helix High School. As a starter during his Junior and Senior years, Smith led his team to a record of 25-1, including two San Diego CIF section championships. He was named to the first-team all-conference and all-county squads in the San Diego CIF system. Smith also earned the conference offensive player of the year twice, and twice won the team MVP for Helix. During his time at Helix, Smith set a school record by throwing for six touchdowns in one game, and recorded the second-highest completion percentage in San Diego CIF history. While at Helix, he played with 2005 Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush, who was also a finalist for the 2004 award, making it the first time a high school had two finalists at the ceremony.

Smith was president of his senior class in high school, and was also an excellent student who graduated with a 4.4 GPA one semester early by earning college credits through a program with San Diego State University and a dozen Advanced Placement tests.[1]

College career

Smith attended the University of Utah and played for the Utah Utes, wearing number 11. He finished fourth in voting for the 2004 Heisman Trophy and was selected as the 2004 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year. Smith posted a 21–1 record as a starter in college, while leading a high-powered spread offense under head coach Urban Meyer. He led the Utes to victories in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl and the 2003 Liberty Bowl. Smith graduated from Utah with an economics degree in three years with a 3.71 GPA,[2] having matriculated with 64 credit hours.[3]

NFL career

At the NFL combine, Smith recorded a 4.7 time in the 40-yard dash, benched 335 pounds and had a 31-inch vertical leap.[4] He also earned a score of 40 out of 50 on the Wonderlic exam.[5]

Smith was the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, selected by the San Francisco 49ers. In July 2005, Smith agreed to a six-year, $49.5 million contract with the 49ers; the contract includes $24 million in guaranteed money.


2005 season

Dealing with an injury and being taken in and out of the lineup by then-head coach Mike Nolan, Smith played in nine games in his rookie season, recording just one touchdown pass while throwing 11 interceptions.

2006 season

After the challenges faced by his rookie campaign, Smith went into the 2006 season with a new offensive coordinator (Norv Turner) and an improved set of offensive weapons around him. The 49ers used their top draft choice on Vernon Davis, a playmaking tight end from Maryland. They also upgraded their offensive backfield, trading underachieving running back Kevan Barlow to the Jets, making Frank Gore the feature back.

Smith also spent the offseason working daily with his new coordinator, wide receivers and tight end, while working to improve his technique and add bulk. The improved offensive cast clearly helped Smith develop in his second year, especially early. Smith's first three games of the season saw him throw three touchdowns, no interceptions, and amass 814 yards. After struggling in Kansas City, he then threw for three touchdowns against the Oakland Raiders, setting a career high. However, the next five games saw Smith resume his growing pains, averaging only 153 yards per game while throwing only six touchdowns and nine interceptions. Despite his difficulty, he led the 49ers on a three-game winning streak in November.

Smith met Joe Montana for the first time on November 5, 2006, during a game against the Vikings. The 49ers wore the throwback jerseys of the 1989 team which Joe Montana and teammates wore. The 49ers went on to win 9-3, upsetting the Minnesota Vikings.

In need of a statement game, the 49ers traveled to Seattle for a Thursday Night Football game against their division rivals. During the broadcast on NFL Network, Cris Collinsworth noted that were he starting an NFL franchise, he would had taken the Broncos rookie quarterback Jay Cutler before Alex Smith and fellow rookies Matt Leinart and Vince Young - and that Smith was not even close to the others.[6] Going into the 4th quarter, the 49ers were trailing the Seahawks 7-3, and pulling out a win looked unlikely. Smith however performed brilliantly in the fourth quarter, and drove the 49ers on a long touchdown drive down the field early, taking a narrow 10-7 lead. Late in the quarter, with the same score, Smith struck again - shaking off an almost certain sack, rolling to the left and completing a pass to Frank Gore for a touchdown to give the 49ers a 10 point lead. On the next drive, Smith cemented the victory by leading yet another touchdown drive, and rushing for a touchdown on a naked bootleg. Collinsworth had earlier in the game observed that "Alex Smith is the best I've ever seen him. That drive is the best I saw," and on seeing his touchdown run, commented "What a second-half he has had!".[7]

After losing to the Cardinals the following week, the 49ers final game of the 2006 season was against a Denver Broncos team looking for a playoff berth. In a major upset, the 49ers defeated the Broncos and knocked them out of the playoffs. During the game at INVESCO Field, Smith threw for 194 yards and a touchdown, leading the team to a come from behind victory for the second time in three weeks.

Overall, Smith improved in his second year by throwing as many touchdowns as interceptions. He threw for 16 TDs, 16 interceptions, 2,890 yards and a 74.8 quarterback rating, all improvements over his rookie year, and all well above what would normally be expected of a 22-year-old-quarterback. Alex also became the first 49ers quarterback in club history to take every snap from center over the course of a season in 2006.

2007 season

Smith entered the 2007 season learning under a third offensive coordinator in three seasons. Norv Turner was hired as the head coach by the San Diego Chargers. Jim Hostler replaced Turner. Hostler's system is a mixture of the offensive system installed by Turner with elements of the West Coast offense installed by Mike McCarthy for the 2005 season. During the offseason, the 49ers added wide receivers Darrell Jackson, Ashley Lelie, and rookie Jason Hill as new offensive weapons for Smith.

In the season opener on Monday Night Football against the Arizona Cardinals, Smith led the 49ers to a 20-17 win in a two-minute comeback. While down 17-13 with less than two-minutes left, Smith drove down the field, highlighted by a 25-yard scramble. After the scramble, he threw a 22 yard pass to Arnaz Battle that was fumbled on the one-yard line, but recovered by a 49er so the ball was placed back on the one-yard line with 26 seconds left. The following play Battle ran an end around for the game-winning touchdown. Smith finished the game 15 for 31 with 126 yards and two rushes for 37 yards.[8] Had Darrell Jackson not dropped a perfectly thrown pass in the end zone prior to Smith completing the comeback, his numbers would have been even better.

On September 30 in the first quarter of a game against the Seattle Seahawks, Smith injured his right shoulder after getting sacked by Seahawks defensive tackle Rocky Bernard. Smith suffered a grade-three separation and the initial diagnosis was that surgery would not be required. Smith missed the next three games before returning to the 49ers' starting lineup on Sunday, October 28, 2007.

The 49ers did not win a game again until November 25. Among all NFL quarterbacks who qualify for league statistics, only the Jets' Kellen Clemens had a poorer passer rating than Smith (57.2), Smith completed under 50% of his passes, far below the league average of 60%. Smith was at odds with 49ers head coach Mike Nolan over the severity of his injury. Nolan believed that Smith was healthy enough to play while Smith felt that the injury still affected his ability to throw accurately, an account that was supported by players from the Seahawks[9]. Nolan decided to rest Smith following a loss in that game to the Seahawks on November 12 and start Trent Dilfer to allow Smith's shoulder to recover. Upon further examination following the decision, according to orthopedic surgeon James Andrews, the shoulder did not significantly heal as Andrews thought it would. Smith would not play again in the 2007 season.[10] On December 11, 2007, Smith was placed on injured reserve to undergo surgery on the shoulder.

2008 season

Smith on the sidelines in November 2008

Smith entered training camp competing for the starting quarterback job with Shaun Hill, who won both of the games he started in 2007, before suffering a back injury against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and journeyman J.T. O'Sullivan. Smith would be learning under a fourth different offensive coordinator in four seasons; Jim Hostler was fired and replaced by former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator and St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator/head coach Mike Martz. Unlike the previous three seasons, where offensive continuity was somewhat maintained, Martz's system was completely different. Smith was announced as the second-string quarterback for the 49ers' initial preseason game against the Oakland Raiders on August 8, behind O'Sullivan, who was elevated to starting quarterback, partly due to his familiarity with Martz's offense when he was a member of the Detroit Lions. Smith threw five of nine for 51 yards. He again started as the second-string quarterback in an August 16 preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, which the 49ers won 34-6. O'Sullivan was named the starting quarterback against the Chicago Bears on August 21 in the third preseason game, where he performed extremely well, throwing 7 of 8 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown. Smith threw 6 of 17 for 83 yards and a touchdown.

On August 22, 49ers head coach Mike Nolan announced[11] that O'Sullivan, who had competed with Smith and Hill, would replace Smith as the 49ers' first-string quarterback for Week 1 of the 2008 season. This decision led former NFL coach Jim Mora to call Smith a "bust," and argue that the 49ers should not have drafted him as the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.[12]

On September 10, the 49ers placed Smith on injured reserve after Dr. James Andrews confirmed the team's diagnosis of a broken bone in his shoulder,[13] believed to have been caused by a wire left in his shoulder from the previous surgery, which had sawed through the bone [14]. Regardless, the 49ers' general manager, Scot McCloughan, said that the 49ers expected to release Smith before the 2009 season, when they would owe him a salary of $9,625,000.[15]

After Nolan was fired on October 21, 2008, the 49ers expressed interest in having Smith remain for the 2009 season if he was willing to renegotiate his contract.[16] On March 10, 2009, the 49ers announced that his contract had been successfully restructured and that he would stay with the team. He took a considerable paycut to remain with the 49ers, with whom he would be under contract for the next two years.[17] Smith will make $4 million a season in 2009 and 2010, in addition to base salaries that weren't immediately made known. In his previous contract, he was scheduled to make $24.6 million in the final two years. [1]

2009 season

After restructuring his contract with San Francisco, Smith lost the battle for the starting quarterback position to Shaun Hill. However, in a Week 7 game against the Houston Texans, Smith replaced him in the third quarter, after Hill had performed poorly in a 0-21 first half deficit. Smith led the team back with three touchdown passes, all to TE Vernon Davis, but fell short of victory, 21-24. [18] Head coach Mike Singletary named Smith as the 49ers' starting quarterback the next day at his weekly press conference on October 26.[19]

Since his return as the 49ers' starting quarterback, Smith has shown signs of progress, despite the team's 2-5 record in his first seven starts.[20] He led the 49ers to a Week 12 victory, 20-3, against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, throwing for 232 yards with two touchdown passes while posting a 96.8 passer rating.[21] In a Week 13 match-up against the NFC West division rival Seattle Seahawks, he recorded the first 300-yard passing game of his career, completing 27 of 45 throws with two touchdown passes.[22]

He also worked for the BBC in the United Kingdom, covering Super Bowl XLIV.

Career statistics


    Passing   Rushing
Season Team GP Comp Att Pct Yds TD INT Att Yds TD
2002 Utah Utes 2 2 4 50.0 4 0 1 2 -11 0
2003 Utah Utes 11 173 266 65.0 2247 15 3 149 452 5
2004 Utah Utes 13 214 317 67.5 2952 32 4 135 631 10
Totals 26 389 587 66.3 5203 47 8 286 1072 15


    Passing   Rushing
Season Team GP Comp Att Pct Yds TD INT Att Yds TD
2005 San Francisco 49ers 9 84 165 50.9 875 1 11 30 103 0
2006 San Francisco 49ers 16 257 442 58.1 2,890 16 16 43 147 2
2007 San Francisco 49ers 7 94 193 48.7 914 2 4 13 89 0
2008 San Francisco 49ers 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2009 San Francisco 49ers 11 225 372 60.5 2,350 18 12 24 51 0
Totals 43 660 1,172 56.1 7,029 37 43 111 390 2


  1. ^ "Alex Smith answers call as top choice by San Francisco 49ers". Retrieved 2007-09-07. 
  2. ^ "Ute QB Alex Smith Announces Plans To Enter 2005 NFL Draft". Official Website of Utah Athletics. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  3. ^ Sorensen, Mike. U.'s Smith is true student athlete Deseret Morning News, 20 December 2004.
  4. ^ "Alex Smith profile". Retrieved 2007-03-16. 
  5. ^ "Alex Smith Wonderlic Score". Retrieved 2007-03-16. 
  6. ^ Matt Maiocco. "Matt Maiocco account of SEA vs. SFO game". Retrieved 2007-03-16. 
  7. ^ Matt Maiocco. "Matt Maiocco account of SEA vs. SFO game". Retrieved 2007-03-16. 
  8. ^ "ESPN - Arizona vs. San Francisco Box Score, September 10 2007 - NFL Football". 
  9. ^ "Player notes". 
  10. ^ orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews
  11. ^ "Transcript: Mike Nolan talks about JTO, QBs". Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  12. ^ "NFL Video Galleries: Smith and Leinart's Future". 
  13. ^ "Niners QB Smith has broken shoulder, will not play this season". Retrieved 2008-09-10. 
  14. ^ "Alex Smith an unanswered question for 49ers". Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  15. ^ "49ers place Smith on injured reserve with broken bone in shoulder". 
  16. ^ "McCloughan talks up possible return by Smith". 
  17. ^ Alex Smith Stays With San Francisco, March 10, 2009
  18. ^;_ylt=AqxN7QOWLMaeg2FsmxuFJgBDubYF?gid=20091025034&prov=ap
  19. ^;_ylt=Auc2vtuY.ciUOHhLn6jZE3BDubYF?slug=ap-49ers-qbs&prov=ap&type=lgns
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^

External links

Preceded by
Tim Rattay
San Francisco 49ers Starting Quarterbacks
Succeeded by
Trent Dilfer
Preceded by
Shaun Hill
San Francisco 49ers Starting Quarterbacks
Succeeded by


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