You’d think that on a day when Alex Smith throws for 230 yards and no interceptions en route to a 97.5 quarterback rating and a 20-6 49ers win, he would be able to avoid the patented Singletary sideline shoutdown.
Guess again, Alex Smith. The quarterback was on the business end of another classic Mike Singletary fire-and-brimstone sermon Sunday – and right after he threw his only touchdown pass of the day.
Smith put the Niners up 13-3 with his two-yard touchdown strike to Vernon Davis in the third quarter. The trouble was that Smith had acres between him and the nearest Detroit Lion during the early stages of the play. He could have more easily waltzed right into the end zone himself with a simple quarterback sneak, had he not pulled back to pass. His path to the end zone was so open that he probably could have one-hand cartwheeled it in.
Smith ignored the easy touchdown, and took a risk by throwing to Vernon Davis instead. It was a crappy throw, and a lot could have gone wrong. In fact, something did.
Smith may well have crossed the line of scrimmage, but the officials ruled that he hadn’t when the Lions challenged. The call could have gone either way.
Sure, the play worked, but that’s not satisfying Samurai Mike. “I need to get both of them in a room and lock the door and find out if Vernon had talked to him and told him he needed another touchdown or something like that,” Singletary groused after the game, in remarks published by the San Jose Mercury News. “Alex came to the sideline, I was scratching my head and he knew what I was going to say.”
“He just said, ‘Coach, be nice. Be nice.’,” Singletary said. It will come as no surprise that Singletary was not nice.
“Next time, just dive in or something,” the coach complained. “Just run.”
Smith, for his part, claims he was coached to avoid running the quarterback keeper after he ignored a wide-open Eric Johnson to run for a touchdown on a sneak in 2006. “I remember watching film the next day and getting told that touchdown passes are a little more valuable,” Smith told the Sacramento Bee.
But touchdown passes are not more valuable, Alex Smith – they’re worth six points plus a PAT, just like rushing touchdowns. The only difference is that when you throw, you’re less likely to have a linebacker knock you into next week.
But then you’re more likely to have Mike Singletary knock you into next week.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer with a sudden funny suspicion that Alex Smith has Vernon Davis on his fantasy team.