Alex Smith has a great game and 49ers’ fans wonder when he’ll fall back to earth. If he has a terrible game, they call for absolutely unproven Colin Kaepernick to take more snaps.

In an effort to determine where Alex Smith actually stands among NFL starting quarterbacks, let’s look at subjective groupings that include QBs I think are clearly better all-around than Smith, clearly inferior to the 49ers starter and some who are too young to really compare to the San Francisco veteran.

In trying to clear Giants’ cob webs, I could come up with only 2 NFL quarterbacks who don’t seem to belong in any of the three groups. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers doesn’t rank among the NFL’s elite, although he did just 2 seasons ago. There’s no way to argue, however, that the 49ers would suffer if they simply swapped Smith for Rivers. The same, I think, holds true in regard to Rams’ quarterback Sam Bradford. He hasn’t accomplished as much as Rivers did before his fall from grace, but he has played well enough to get out of the group that simply hasn’t played long enough to compare to Smith. I might be the only person in Northern California who believes the 49ers would be exactly with Bradford where they are with Smith.

In order to determine where Alex Smith ranks, first we have to look at the groupings (and sub-groupings). They are ranked based on performance.


1. Aaron Rodgers

2. Tom Brady

3. Eli Manning (All he does is bring the NY Giants back from deficits and win championships.)

4. Drew Brees


1. Ben Roethlisberger

2. Matt Schaub

3. Peyton Manning (he’s back among the Superior/Elite when he gets his arm strength back. Big drop from No. 3 to … )

4. Jay Cutler (So, he’s a schmoe … a Franken-jerk! I like his arm and, as I date myself, his moxie!)

5. Tomy Romo (It’s not Romo’s fault he plays for a dysfunctional franchise. The 49ers with Romo would dwarf the 49ers with Smith. Romo playing in the Harbaugh-Greg Roman system? Magic.)

6. Matthew Stafford (Having an inferior year, I know.)

7. Matt Ryan

8. Josh Freeman. (I think, the case for Smith’s superiority can be made.)

9. Joe Flacco.


1. Andrew Luck (If I was starting a franchise, this would be my quarterback.)

2. Robert Griffin III (Can’t go too far wrong with RG III, obviously.)

3. Cam Newton (He’ll get his game together. Wait and see.)


1. Ryan Tannehill (Incredibly strong arm. A virtual neophyte at this most complicated position. Has Dolphins in AFC East title hunt.)

2. Andy Dalton

3. Russell Wilson (His athletic ability could be key to a big career. Or, it could be hiding deficiencies that will kill his career.)

4. Brandon Weeden

5. Christian Ponder

6. Blaine Gabbert

7. Tim Tebow (Look … very few QBs get their teams into the postseason. He did it a year ago.)


1. Carson Palmer

2. Ryan Fitzpatrick (If you’re going to be inconsistent at your job, get paid ridiculously well for said job.)

3. Michael Vick (Without much thought … I’d take Alex Smith over Vick … any day.)

4. Mark Sanchez (he’s young, but he’s played four seasons as a starter.)

5. Brady Quinn (It’s a personal hunch, but I think he’d do well playing for Harbaugh.)

6. Matt Hasselbeck

7. Matt Cassel

8. Jake Locker

9. Kevin Kolb

10. John Skelton

Now … in which group and where does Alex Smith rank?




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  1. Graham Shillaker

    Just check the ratings for all quarterbacks right now, you do not seem too smart but I think you could figure it out.
    Which group would you put him in?

    October 31st, 2012 8:55 pm

  2. overtime

    Graham…Not too smart, huh? I’m smart enough to have written something that you read and responded to, right? You don’t need to be snarky sports fan guy. Thanks for reading. TED

    October 31st, 2012 9:02 pm

  3. Graham Shillaker

    Thank you for your reply.
    I would rank him in the Superior group.
    Have not been hot on Romo or Cutler but it does seem that a quarterback’s success depends on the supporting cast along with key players staying healthy.
    Smith has finally got the support, players and coaching, that has helped his progression, yes, there have been bumps in the road, but that is football.

    October 31st, 2012 9:21 pm

  4. K.T. Hastings

    Okay, I’ll bite. I put Smith in the 4.5 position under “Superior”. I think the bloom is off the Romo rose, and would sooner trust Smith in a late game drive than Tony.

    I’m also comfortable with him at a notch behind Cutler (moxie and all), but I think Smith is closer to Cutler than he is Romo below him. Let’s call Alex Smith 4.18.

    October 31st, 2012 10:11 pm

  5. overtime

    K.T. … I could’ve ranked Smith FOR you and gotten it almost exactly correct. You actually rank him lower than I expected you to…thanks. TED

    October 31st, 2012 11:27 pm

  6. overtime

    Graham…thanks! I wonder about Romo because I don’t watch the Cowboys closely. They can’t fall to pieces and have him playing great, I guess. I appreciate you responding and … look forward to reading your thoughts again soon. TED

    October 31st, 2012 11:28 pm

  7. Matt Witthaus

    I would put him at the head of the inferior group, and only because his receivers make him better by getting yards after the catch. Any throw over twenty yards is either overthrown, underthrown, off target somewhere or (most often) INTERCEPTED. The guy is a BUM, and the way Harbaugh and the rest of the coaching staff protects him and praises his subpar ability when it has a chance to be successful against a subpar defense is maddening. He’s not an explosive quarterback with a rocket arm. He’s not accurate. He’s too careful, takes too many sacks and misses wide-open receivers in the pattern. With him at quarterback, we will get close to a championship but a better quarterback would beat us.

    November 1st, 2012 7:32 am

  8. overtime

    Matt…That’s the input I’m looking for. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Ted

    November 1st, 2012 12:03 pm

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