Editor's Note: Sportswriter Ray Didinger is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and an NFL Insider with our sister network, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.
When we watched tape of the 49ers early in the year, NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger and I were struck by how little Harbaugh seemed to trust Smith. The 49ers were 2-1 but they were coming off a 13-8 win over Cincinnati that was every bit as ugly as the final score suggests. Harbaugh called mostly running plays. When he did call a pass, it was usually a short hitch or a screen.
You cant hide your quarterback in the NFL, Baldinger said. You cant play around him and thats what Harbaugh is doing.
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It was clear: The coach didnt have faith in his quarterback. The play-calling would best be described as baby steps.
But then came the game at the Linc in Week 4, the game in which Smith brought the 49ers back to win when they were the 32nd ranked offense in the league. He threw for 291 yards and two TDs and rallied the 49ers from a 23-3 deficit. The next week, they blew out Tampa Bay, 48-3, and Smith and the offense have been on a roll ever since.
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