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Alex Smith and the San Francisco 49ers wanted to prove to the rest of the NFL that it was a team to be reckoned with.
The team did just that and a man named Smith did prove he belonged in any conversation about the best players at his position.
The problem for the 49ers, that Smith happened to have the first name Justin or Aldon, not Alex.
But the 49ers much-maligned quarterback is finally getting some national love. Respected NFL columnist Jeff Pearlman wrote an homage to Alex Smith in Esquire but not the one that most people would expect.
Instead of putting the former Urban Meyer product in the same league as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees, Pearlman compared Alex Smith to another Meyer product: Tim Tebow.
Tebowmania has swept the country despite the left-handed quarterback's ability to accurately throw a ball, which would have been enough to make an accurate comparison to Alex Smith in his first six seasons in San Francisco.
But Pearlman lays out an interesting case for why Alex Smith is actually more like Tim Tebow than Tim Tebow himself.
After praising Smith for making two excellent throws during the 49ers victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pearlman writes:
But, again, this is all an endorsement of Smithmania; of the ability to fake people into believing you've got the goods. Though a nation's longing eyes turn toward Tebow, they should be focused upon Smith, an average man doing average things for an excellent team. When Coach Jim Harbaugh tells Smith to roll out and throw a three-yard screen to Gore, he does so. When Harbaugh tells Smith to hit Crabtree five yards out on a slant, he does so, too. The whole thing is uncomplicated and precisely scripted, the updated version of NFL Quarterbacking for Dummies.
And for the San Francisco 49ers and Jim Harbaugh that is just fine. The team is 11-3 and Harbaugh says he has no doubts who his quarterback of the future is.
Hint: His name isn't Tim Tebow.