This started out as a reply in another thread. After a half-hour, I realized I had started with the dinosaurs and was just about up to the birth of Jesus...
Since I keep harping on the 1st play in Game 3, I decided to GIF it up. By the time I got done GIFing it up, I decided I liked Alex better and Baldwin less. It wasn't Alex's fault he settled for 8 yards to Fasano between the hashes.
Here are 4 GIFs from that 1st play.
Gif 1: Moeaki in motion to the top of the screen. Baldwin in single coverage on #25, Tarell Brown. #99, Aldon Smith, is lined up in pass rush position. #57, Michael Wilhoite, is the nearest ILB to Baldwin. That's Baldwin on top. There's a safety, #43, Craig Dahl, standing 12 yards deep, just above the top hash, but out of the field of view.
At the snap, Aldon Smith comes forward, Craig goes into a backpedal (even FARTHER off the screen, now), and it's Moeaki and Baldwin versus the corner, with the MLB #57 the closest help, and far too far away to do any good. Alex is staring this down
Here you can see Alex's head is turned left. But now watch Baldwin spin all the way around AWAY from Alex instead of simply running straight ahead, and looking over his right shoulder.
This is just after Baldwin completes his lumbering, nonsensical 180. Notice Alex's head is already turned towards the middle of the field. Baldwin ran to the one spot where the corner is in position to make the tackle on either Moeaki or Baldwin, for little gain, all by himself. Meanwhile, you see #57 driving hard, because he KNEW he was out of position. By this time, Baldwin should already have the ball and be past #57, even at his speed.
The play eventually went for 9 yards to Fasano, but it was one that I thought should've gone to Baldwin, only Baldwin didn't make the obvious read.
So what I'm seeing is a QB who would LIKE to go to the WR, but the WR is without a clue.
Alex Smith in SFO was in a situation like Dilfer's in Tampa Bay or Dilfer's in Baltimore or McMahon's or Harbaugh's in Chicago. Teams stacked on defense, brutish on offense, but not very good in pass pro, and maybe not so good @ WR. I think people underrate how well Dilfer played in always-brutal situations, against defenses just swarming the line and trying to punk him, because his teams ran so well and couldn't pass pro'.
It's a unique talent to survive under that kind of abuse, and still be standing there, to deliver a beautiful 38-yard touchdown to Stokley, followed soon after by a 44-yard strike to Qadry Ismail, to set up a FG before the half in the SB for the Ravens. When Dilfer got to those big games, he delivered the big plays on an offense that made big plays very elusive.
Dilfer's kind of one of those Jim McMahon's, who mix it up with the bigs, because it's the only way to win with that kind of supporting cast. Get Sweetness his blockers, but more or less let/make the QB fend for himself. You just have to find a QB tough enough and crazy enough to do it, and make that perfect pass inside of 2 minutes to go, with the championship on the line.
I think that the Vast Majority of APers are aware of the fact that Davis and Crabs were the only targets really worth a darn for Alex, which skewed his numbers in the TE direction. To AP's credit the Vast Majority at the same time, believe that where there's smoke, there's fire, on this one, because there's no change in pattern shown in preseason. But a play that I originally thought was an example of Alex's TE bias was actually an example of WR ineptitude, with a QB who WANTED to use his WR.
I'm still hoping against hope that we'll see Smith break out of that TE rut in 2013, with Andy Reid @ HC and a GM of Green Bay extraction. But I also think that the new GM-HC pair are prob'ly smart to make sure the foundations are laid before deckin' out the penthouse apartment with another big-name WR. And Alex has shown that he can at least hold down the fort in that situation.
Even if their plan is to give Alex better receivers, I still feel a little more confident knowing they overdrafted OT in the 2013 draft, kept a finger in Albert's jersey with the franchise tag, and wooed Schwartz away from MIN with a generous, but less than Earth-shattering contract. There have been more highly-touted #1 overall OT picks, but Fisher is STILL the best OT KC's had in reach in like forever, and I'm glad they got him. I'm glad he'll have a year under his belt when they pick the best QB in 2014 that they've ever taken in literally forever. I know that until you establish some excellence up front, you are a fool to believe it won't take some overkill to get you there.
I'm also glad they went overkill on TE and FB. I'm even starting to be glad that they added a power-and-speed HB, of which they had none, even if it doesn't work out perfectly. It's not like they burned a 1st on him, like King Carl did on Larry Johnson 2.7.
They've done just about everything they could think of, it seems to me, to set the table for WR. I think that gives them a real edge in getting production out of the WRs they have. Built the way they are, they have a better chance of establishing continuity and be in position to really profit by new WR blood in 2014, without being too freaked-out about it getting in the way of other needs. Next year is QB-and-WR year, AFAIC.