SANTA CLARA -- No one is going to confuse Alex Smith with Drew Brees.Smith threw for 17 touchdowns during the regular season. Brees, 46. Smith set a personal record with 3,144 passing yards during the regular season. Brees set an NFL record with 2,332 more passing yards than that.
Smith has thrown for more than 300 yards only twice in his career and lost both games. Brees just threw for a playoff record 466 yards in a win over the Lions last weekend.
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Brees puts up the numbers. Smith doesn't and bristled at a reporter's question on the chance he could out-throw the Saints signal-caller when the teams meet Saturday for their playoff match up."I have no idea. I don't care. I really don't care," Smith said. "I'm looking to out-score him. He can throw for however many yards he wants to."Smith knows he doesn't need to out-throw anybody. It's not his game. His game is centered around only one notable number, the kind that quarterbacks want as low as possible.Smith's threw the fewest number of interceptions in the league this season. His five interceptions not only set a 49ers record for fewest in a season, it ranked third-best in NFL history among quarterbacks with a minimum of 400 attempts. It's a number that has caught Brees attention as well."That's the biggest stat in football is the turnover ratio, and he's done a great job of taking care of it," Brees said during a conference call to Bay Area reporters when asked what stands out about Smith."So I'd say his decision making. He's made some big throws in some big situations. I can recall the one against Seattle down the sideline to (Michael) Crabtree on that drive to go down and kick a field goal to take the lead. I've seen him make some throws, a couple against Tampa, because we played Tampa the next week after they played them early in the season. He looks like he's playing with a lot of confidence and taking care of the football."Avoiding the turnover started to take hold in Smith's decision-making last year when he ended the 2010 season with only one interception in his last six starts of the season. It developed further under first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh. His five interceptions this year came during a season in which he led the 49ers to five fourth-quarter comebacks, four of them on the road.Smith says he and Brees know each other a little bit. They worked out together awhile back in Smith's hometown of San Diego where Brees spends part of the offseason, and they share the same agent. Beyond that, Smith is leaving any further evaluation between the quarterbacks to others."You can say what you want. A lot of different ways to win games in this league," Smith said. "Obviously offensively, they're doing a lot of great things right now. Record-setting offense. It's kind of what you aspire to get to, no question, offensively. To be able to put up those kinds of numbers, do what they're doing. They've been in it a long time. Doing it at a really high level, no question."It's kind of for you guys to write about, to talk about the differences and differences of style. Whatever you want to call it. It is what it is. It still comes down to scoring more points than the other team and that's what we're looking to do."