If only Smith would win one for 49ers

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:14 AM ET

There is a lot of blame to go around for the San Francisco 49ers' 0-4 start to the season.

It is certainly no way for a team to break from the blocks, at least not one that was considered the front-runner to win the weak NFC West.

But the 49ers are 0-4 and the critics tired of beating on head coach Mike Singletary, are now turning their gaze to their second favourite whipping boy, quarterback Alex Smith.

In his sixth season in the NFL, Smith has yet to generate much in the way of excitement since being selected the No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft. In his career with the 49ers he has neither been a bust nor a saviour. He is steady, not great, and the feeling is that the fan base is growing tired of his overall mediocrity.

After an improbable loss to the Falcons last week in Atlanta, the 49ers face another must win game this week at home against the Philadelphia Eagles.

About the only thing that Smith has been consistent at this season is accepting blame and he was at it again this week.

"As a starting quarterback in the NFL, you are more responsible for wins and losses than any player on the field," Smith said. "So to go 0-4 and then say you're surprised by (scrutiny), you'd be pretty ignorant or pretty naive.

"We're 0-4. I'm the starting quarterback. So, no question a lot of that falls on my shoulders, absolutely, without a doubt."

It's a positive sign and all that when a losing team's quarterback accepts responsibility for the club's record, but 49ers fans would rather he clutch up and lead them to big touchdowns at key moments.

In the losses Smith hasn't shown much. He has an overall rating of 66.1 which puts him ahead of just three regulars and is tied with Detroit's Shaun Hill for having thrown the most interceptions--seven.

Still, Singletary is staying with him and going against the trend this season that has seen multiple teams make a quarterback switcheroo.

"I am nowhere near that point," Singletary said. "I think when I look at Alex Smith, it's the growing pains of not just Alex Smith, but our team. Hopefully, we're at a point right now where everybody is growing up.

"I think whatever we've done up to this point, it's got to be behind us. And it's time to move on. I think Alex has done a decent job. And I think going forward he's only going to get better."

Well, there it is, the best word his coach can summon to describe his play this season is "decent."

Decent isn't getting it done.

Time is quickly running out on both the 49ers and Smith.

GOING NOWHERE FAST

Inconsistency seems to be the trademark of many teams this season and no team has been more inconsistent than the 2-2 Tennessee Titans.

Good one game, terrible the next, the Titans are something of an enigma, especially on offence.

In Chris Johnson they have a 2,000-yard man, but this season Johnson has looked very ordinary.

Last season everyone was heaping praise on the resurgence of quarterback Vince Young who bounced back from a JaMarcus Russell-type of career to one that held promise and stardom. But in 2010, Young has been blah.

Johnson has been held in check due to the fact that the opposing defences are stacking the box, daring the Titans and Young to throw down field.

For whatever the reason, coach Jeff Fisher has put the clamp on his quarterback, leaving his offence predictable and boring.

This season, Johnson has 354 yards rushing while Young has just 511 yards through the air.

Fisher has got to show more confidence in Young and let him air it out, which would lead to more room for Johnson to do his thing.

"I'm running the same," Johnson said the other day. "It's a long season and we know we're (the offence) going to get better. That is the wrong thing to do, to start pointing fingers, you start separating the locker room."

The schedule also isn't a favourable one over the short haul.

Beginning Sunday when they travel to Dallas, they go through a stretch where four of their next five games are on the road--the other stops being in Jacksonville, San Diego and Miami.

It's time for the Titans to open things up.

SMOOTH TRANSITION

Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch -- who was traded from Buffalo for fourth-round pick and a conditional pick that's believed to be a fifth or a sixth -- had his first practice with his new team on Wednesday. He is not worried about transitioning to Seattle's offence because of its similarities to Buffalo's. He has 164 yards rushing on 37 carries in four games this season.

QUICK HITS

Jets coach Rex Ryan indicated that team doctors have cleared Darrelle Revis (hamstring) to play on Monday night. Revis suggested that he won't play unless he's 100% ...The Broncos have reportedly informed the agent for Champ Bailey that contract talks are "off the table" until after the season. Bailey wants to stay in Denver--But he's adamant that he won't "beg" the Broncos to keep him. But "I'm not worried about that," he says. "I don't need them to kiss my [butt]. ....

mike rutsey@sunmedia.ca


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