The 49ers looked like a team in need of a change in the first half of Sunday's ballgame in Houston. Shaun Hill looked out of sync and off target for the last couple of ballgames and Coach Singletary made a much needed change going to Alex Smith. His performance in the second half of the game has landed him back atop the teams depth chart at QB.
The Texans took a 21-0 lead into the half, and things were starting to look eerily similar to last weeks blowout loss to Atlanta. Hill completed just 6 of 11 pass attempts for 45 yards in 2 quarters of play, and keep in mind that the Texans pass defense is far from the league's elite. To be fair though, the Niners didn't get much of a run game going and their O-line seemed to be over-matched by the Texans defensive front. Frank Gore totaled just 32 rush yards on 13 carries, as the Niners abandoned the run for most of the second half. Still though, Shaun Hill wasn't making things happen for the Niners offense and it looked like defenses were starting to figure this guy out. So, with the Niners offense playing so poorly, and the Texans seemingly having a stranglehold of the game at half, Singletary didn't see any harm in throwing Alex Smith out into the mix, and Smith almost brought the Niners back in an impressive second-half run.
Smith came in and was immediately effective, connecting with rookie Michael Crabtree for a 17 yard gain, then hitting his favorite target of the afternoon, Vernon Davis, for a 29-yard TD strike and it really was all Niners from there in that second half. Smith ended up having the half of his career, going 15-22 for 206 yards and 3 TD's with 1 Int. Even with Smith's impressive second half play, they still didn't quite do enough to overcome the 21 point half-time deficit, but they thoroughly outplayed the Texans in the second half, to the tune of 21-3. Smith got great help out of tight-end Vernon Davis, who hauled in 7 catches for 93 yards, and was the recipient on all 3 of Smith's TD passes. Davis is quietly becoming one of the top tight-ends in football, and if I were to start a team today and had my choice of any tight-end in the league to add to that team, I think I'd have to take Davis. He's young, big and fast and seems to be getting better each week. Let me know if anyone knows of a tight-end as explosive and fast as Davis, cause I can't think of any. Besides Davis, rookie Michael Crabtree was also heavily featured in his NFL debut, reeling in 5 grabs for 56 yards and looked very comfortable running routes.
The Niners receiving corps as a whole looked very impressive with Smith throwing them the football, so it really wasn't a tough decision for Singletary to make, handing Smith the reigns. After sitting and watching for the last year and a half, Smith very well could be ready to make his impact in this league, and I can't wait to see his first start since 2007 next week in Indy.