Can Alex Smith keep this up?
The Niners QB may have really changed, but don't give Jim Harbaugh all the credit
For the most part, the 49ers have gotten off to their hot start because of defense and special teams. Both units rank second in the league according to the Football Outsiders' DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) ratings. But the 49ers are also showing a strong passing game, led by Smith, a previously undistinguished quarterback.
Smith is completing 65.9 percent of passes with seven touchdowns and one pick, plus a career-high 7.7 yards per attempt. According to Football Outsiders stats, Smith has been the 10th-best quarterback in the league on a per-play basis this season.
The question is obvious: Can Smith possibly play this well going forward? And how rare is this kind of improvement from a quarterback who struggled so much in his first six seasons?
To read if Alex Smith can sustain this level of play -- and whether Jim Harbaugh deserves the credit for his turnaround -- you must be an ESPN Insider.