Chiefs drawn to Smith's efficiency
February, 27, 2013
By ESPN Stats & Information | ESPN.com
Ralph Freso/Getty ImagesAlex Smith is reportedly heading to Kansas City after spending eight seasons with the 49ers.
Smith would be the latest in a line of former 49ers quarterbacks who have moved to Kansas City:
• Joe Montana was traded from San Francisco to Kansas City in April of 1993. He led the Chiefs to a pair of playoff appearances in two seasons and advanced all the way to the AFC Championship Game in 1993.
• Steve Bono was a highly regarded backup in San Francisco when he was traded to the Chiefs in 1994. Bono became the Chiefs' starter in 1995 and led the team to a 13-3 record.
• Elvis Grbac spent his first four seasons with the 49ers before signing with the Chiefs as a free agent in 1997. Grbac spent four seasons as the Chiefs' starter before moving on to Baltimore.
• And now it's Alex Smith's turn. Drafted first overall by the 49ers in 2005, Smith led San Francisco to the NFC Championship Game in 2011 before Colin Kaepernick took over as starter in Week 11 of this season.
In terms of Total QBR, the trade makes a lot of sense from the Chiefs’ perspective. Smith was the seventh-most efficient quarterback in 2012 with a rating of 70.1.
The Chiefs, on the other hand, ranked 29th in QBR at 31.9. Only the Browns, Jets and Cardinals were worse last season.
One reason that Smith posted such a high QBR in 2012 is that he was an accurate passer who took care of the ball.
Smith led the NFL with a 70.2 completion percentage last season and, since 2011, has thrown an interception on just 1.5 percent of his pass attempts. Among qualified passers over that span, only Aaron Rodgers (1.3) has thrown interceptions at a lower rate.
In Kansas City, quarterbacks have not been nearly as secure with the ball. Chiefs quarterbacks committed 29 turnovers in 2012, including 20 interceptions. The 29 turnovers trailed only the Jets (33) for most in the NFL and the 20 interceptions were one shy of the league-leading Cardinals (21).
Kansas City also threw a league-low eight touchdown passes in 2012, the fewest in a single season by any team since the 2007 Oakland Raiders (seven).
Alex Smith threw 13 touchdown passes in just nine games last season and his 30 touchdowns since 2011 are nine more than Chiefs passers have thrown over the same span.
Will the move pay immediate dividends? AccuScore seems to think so. According to 10,000 computer simulations, Alex Smith is worth approximately 2.2 wins for the Chiefs in 2013 and improves their chances of reaching the playoffs from 0.2 percent to 8.8 percent.
All that said, Smith will be forced to start from scratch in 2013. Doug Pederson will be the eighth offensive coordinator that Smith has played under in just his ninth season in the league. The past two seasons marked just the second time in his career that he had the same coordinator to begin consecutive NFL seasons.