Alex Smith has played against the Philadelphia Eagles 5 times in his career. The only years of his career he didn't play the Eagles were 2007 & 2012. That is pretty weird. The 49ers play in the NFC West, basically on the Pacific ocean, and the Eagles play in the NFC East, basically on the Atlantic ocean. Meetings between teams so far apart are few and far in between.
Teams don't like these games, and the schedule makers usually have a good number of schedules to choose from. While the teams don't have any direct input on what schedule gets picked, the schedule makers do claim to take time/distance considerations into account.
Smith's record in these 5 games against the Eagles? 1-4, he only won their most recent meeting in 2011.
Smith & The Eagles
Trivia question: who did Smith throw his first (incomplete) pass against as a professional football player? The Eagles. He got thrown into the starting lineup about a year too early because the Eagles were dominating the 49ers 42-3 and the Niner management decided they might as well throw their rookie QB into the mix. Now that I have written that down, it has become harder to follow the logic of it, but I guess that is what they were thinking. That was it for the 2005 game: one handoff, one pass, one run (3 yards). This game, for better or for worse, began the Alex Smith era in San Francisco.
Smith played the Eagles Week 3 of the 2006 season. The 49ers started slow and were down 24-3 at the half. After the break, Smith led a rousing second half comeback, with 3 TD drives against the stout Eagles Defense. But alas, typical of the 49ers of this time, the thrilling comeback fell just short. Smith's final line was: 293 yards 1 TD 0INT. This game was Week 3. Before this game he had thrown 0 INT's. In the 5 games immediately following, he threw 7.
After coming in halfway through the season, Smith was playing the Eagles in week 14 with the playoffs on the line, just as they were the week before when the 49ers drubbed the Kurt Warner-led Cardinals 24-9. The stage was set for Smith to step into the spotlight. Over the past 4 weeks Smith had, quietly, reached the brink of relevancy, and with one more solid performance could get over the hump of hatred.
Smith met his 2005-draftmate Aaron Rodgers in Week 10 of this season, and that game awoke something in him. He exploded for 230 yards and 3 TD's in that game. In the weeks between the GB game and the PHI game (Weeks 10-13) Smith threw for 9 TD's and was averaging 38 attempts and 229 yards a game. Smith was becoming most of the 49ers offense. With easy games against Detroit and St. Louis to end the season, all Smith had to do was beat the Eagles, and he would have had the 49ers (technically only "possibly" at the time, but it turns out he would have) in the playoffs after 2 years of riding the bench with a shoulder injury.
Smith threw the ball 37 times against the Eagles for 177 yards, 1 Touchdown and 3 Interceptions. The 49ers lost 13-27, were eliminated from the playoff hunt, and Singletary refused to even name the Smith the starter for the 2010 season, instead choosing to "evaluate all options."
On the tenth day of the tenth month on the tenth year of the new millennium, Alex Smith changed. On this fateful day Smith played the Eagles in front of a national audience on Sunday night football. On this day, like many others, Smith led an invigorated second half comeback that fell just short. The synthesis of his tenure in San Francisco: just-not-good-enough.
The 49ers walked into that game with a 0-4 record, but it was a better 0-4 than the 2012 Chiefs by at least a few hypothetical wins. Remember, it wasn't just Harbaugh leading the 2011 49ers to the NFC championship. Every single position group but the secondary remained almost wholly unchanged from the 2010 roster. But the real reasons for the misleading record were the close finishes in Weeks 2 & 4.
After getting blown out in Week 1 by an inferior Seahawks team, the 49ers had to face the Super Bowl Champion Saints in Week 2. Smith and 49ers get the ball back at their own 18-yard line with 2:08 left on the clock in the 4th quarter down by 8 points. What followed was magical. Smith was 4 of 5 on what turned out to be a game-tying drive for 51 yards and he even added 24 yards rushing. Smith accounted for every single yard of that 81-yard TD drive before he humbly let Gore take the TD. Then, with an absolutely perfectly thrown ball to Vernon Davis, they got the 2 pt. conversion and were all set to go to OT before they saw their absolutely ridiculous prevent defense bend AND break for the go-ahead field goal.
Alas, they were 0-4 when Philly came to town. The game starts slowly and the Niners are down 17-10 at the half. Going into the 4th quarter, things went from slow to sickening.
First drive: Alex Smith fumbles on one of the ugliest looking plays ever played throughout the history of the National Football League. Eagles score TD.
Second drive: 3 incomplete passes, punt.
Then...it began. Well, actually that's not true. The fans had been booing and hollering and yahooing all game, but at this moment, it became deafening. The commentators simply could ignore it anymore. WE WANT CARR! WE WANT CARR!
Singletary starts foaming at the mouth, and when he asks for Carr, Smith stood up. Then he said something to Singletary. Then Singletary said something back. Then there was some yelling. Then Vernon Davis calmed the situation down. Then there was more yelling. Then Alex Smith grabbed his helmet and walked onto the field, whilst Carr, already on the field, confusingly took his helmet off and walked back to the bench.
Needless to say, I would really love to know what was said during that conversation. After the spat, Smith came back and led back-to-back Touchdown drives. But, (if you have read my other articles, you get the pattern) typical of the 49ers of this time, the thrilling comeback fell just short and the 49ers lost 27-24.
So, it's the first quarter of the season, Alex Smith is the starter, and the 49ers are due for their yearly loss to Philadelphia. Harbaugh has instilled some hope in the Niners fanbase, but after a so-so performance in Weeks 1 & 3, and a loss in Week 2, watching the Eagles build a 3 score lead by halftime seemed all too familiar to long-time Niner fans.
After the half the Niners get the ball, get their field goal blocked and then watch the Eagles score again. Perfect, as far as the narrative is concerned. Then, no big deal, Smith leads 3 consecutive Touchdown drives and the 49ers win. Typical of Alex Smith led teams since (see above), the comeback fell just right, and the [49ers] got the victory.
In 2005 Alex Smith played against the Eagles and showed us all he wasn't ready.
In 2006 he showed us he was almost there.
In 2009 he let us know we were reading him all wrong.
In 2010 he stopped caring.
In 2011 he shut us up.
Each one of these games meant something to Smith's career and each one was against the Eagles. Each taught us a little bit about Alex Smith, and each taught Alex a little about us.
Andy Reid was the coach of the Eagles for each of these games...what did they teach him?
Smith & Reid
When the Chiefs acquired Alex Smith via trade, a number of rumors began swirling around about his fit with the team, and more specifically, his fit with Andy Reid. Trent Dilfer, a former teammate of Alex's, was the first one to speak about it publically, and what he said turned out to really be the biggest story to spawn from the original news.
Andy Reid tried trading for Alex Smith before--while he was the head coach of the Eagles--multiple times. Ha. O, Dilfert you make me laugh.
Even I, the Kool-Aid drinking Joe Mantegna himself, did not believe it for a second. This was, I reasoned, nothing but a case of Dilfer pumping up Smith's ego, something he willingly did every opportunity he got.
But then, at Smith's introductory press conference, Reid confirmed it. He said that he had tried trading for Smith multiple times while he was with the Eagles. He said he was a fan of Smith's since day one, getting to know him because a good friend of his coached at Utah while Smith was setting records there (Kyle Whittingham). He said he always thought Smith was perfect for his offense, and saw that the coaching turmoil was actually hurting the development of the young QB during his early years in San Francisco.
I still wasn't sold. Not even a little bit to tell you the truth. I have been watching football for a long time, and none of this made any sense. Because of how the Niner fanbase felt about Smith, it would have been in the interest of the Eagles to leak news of a trade; so not hearing even the faint whisper of a rumor seemed unlikely.
Then--in one quick snippet from the coach of the San Francisco 49ers--I believed it. I believed it all, and it made everything else around the trade make sense.
Jim Harbaugh absolutely denied that there was any such trade offer from the Eagles while he was head coach of the 49ers. He (a sadistic genius mind you) was in a unique position to validate the admiration another esteemed Head Coach had of his former starting quarterback and acted exactly as Harbaugh would. He didn't lie, but he kind of did.
How would Trent Dilfer know about any Alex Smith Trade, and why didn't Harbaugh know about any Alex Smith Trade?
Because it didn't happen while Harbaugh was Head Coach. Enter: Scot McCloughan. VP of Player Personnel for the 49ers from 2005-2008, General Manager from 2008-2010. McCloughan was involved both in drafting Smith in 2005 and in bringing Dilfer in to mentor Smith in 2006. If the Eagles ever tried to trade for Smith, it would have been before 2011, and would have been under the watch of McCloughan. It probably would have happened soon after Smith was drafted, Smith did not perform well in his first year starting, but the Eagles were having their own troubles. In 2005 Mcnabb only started 9 games and led the Eagles to a 4-5 record. In 2006 he started 10 and only mustered a 5-5 record.
It was looking as if time was finally catching up to Mcnabb, and the 49ers were quickly proving themselves incompetent of building a decent team around Smith. No matter how weird this trade sounds now, it would have made a lot of sense for both franchises to go through with around 2006-2008.
Why did the Chiefs give up two 2nd round picks for Smith?
Smith was already under contract for two years at 8.5mil a year. Two high draft picks was a hefty price to pay for the QB, but it makes perfect sense if you believe that Reid pursued Smith before. This explains both the timing of the trade and the price. Why did the 49ers agree to a trade before the market even opened? Because they knew Reid would give them whatever they wanted, they went to him first, and they got it. The only reason Harbaalke wouldn't let Smith hit the open market (and I mean only) is because they got what they asked for the first time they asked. They both knew they could move Smith at their price as soon as they saw the KC area code on the phone call. (Do I even need to mention that this was an illegal call, because Reid wasn't technically allowed inquire about Smith yet?)
But Constable, what does it all mean?
That there are a lot of plotlines intersecting at the Linc tomorrow. But really nothing, this really means nothing. Some fun story telling before the game.