Alex Smith throwing with better accuracy

August 15, 2012, 4:22 pm
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SANTA CLARA -- Quarterback Alex Smith has looked good during the offseason months in previous years. But he has never looked quite like this.His strong training camp continued Tuesday with an outstanding start to the 49ers' three-hour practice. The only incomplete pass among his first 25 attempts came when his toss to Randy Moss, running the back line of the end zone, zipped through Moss' hands.RELATED: 49ers camp summary (814): Smith heats up, new depth chart
Smith's next two incomplete passes were deep attempts to tight end Vernon Davis late in practice. Three of Smith's final four attempts were incomplete -- no need to sound the alarm.Smith looks to be better at every aspect of his game. Obviously, with a year of experience working with Jim Harbaugh, Greg Roman and Geep Chryst, his knowledge of the system is better than ever.Examining him with the naked eye -- usually from a hundred yards away, where the media is stationed during practices -- it's impossible to pinpoint any dramatic mechanical differences. But the Alex Smith I've seen through 14 practices has been noticeably more accurate with his short, intermediate and deep passes. He also appears to be quicker with his decision-making.I'm not predicting a Pro Bowl season for Smith. But I am predicting the 49ers' passing game will be more formidable than a year ago when the team ranked 31st in the league in third-down conversions and 29th in passing yards.The 49ers have surrounded Smith with better options. As written and talked about after the 49ers' exhibition opener, look for the 49ers to use a lot more variety in the passing game. Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis are the team's top targets, and expect Randy Moss and Mario Manningham to share time as the Nos. 2 and 3 wideouts.Smith signed a three-year, 24 million contract in the offseason. His average salary places him in a tie with Matt Schaub for 18th-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. Schaub and Joe Flacco, whose contracts expire after this season, will likely bump Smith down to No. 20 next year.Once thought to be worth nowhere near the financial investment of the No. 1 overall pick, Smith could become one of the best bargain players in the NFL if his training camp carries over to the regular season.

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