Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 5/24/12

By leading his team to the NFC Championship game last season, Alex Smith proved that he is capable of winning games in the National Football League. Prior to Jim Harbaugh’s arrival in San Francisco, it appeared as though Smith’s career as a 49er was all but over. But Harbaugh found ways to win with a combination of a conservative offense and one of the best defenses in the league. Over the course of the season, the Niners did a good job of proving that stats don’t always matter.

On Wednesday, Smith was asked to explain why the 49ers ranked 29th in the NFL in passing last season. The question seemed to bother him, so he decided to throw a shot at Cam Newton in order to prove a point.

“I could absolutely care less on yards per game,” Smith said according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “I think that is a totally overblown stat because if you’re losing games in the second half, guess what, you’re like the Carolina Panthers and you’re going no-huddle the entire second half. Yeah, Cam Newton threw for a lot of 300-yard games. That’s great. You’re not winning, though.

“We’re up in the third and fourth quarter and naturally you’re going to be in four-minute offense. You’re going to be grinding it out. You’re going to be running the ball a lot more and you’re not going to have as many 300-yard passing games.”

Smith has a point, but there were better ways to make it than calling out Newton after the rookie’s phenomenal season during which he broke a number of rookie quarterback passing and rushing records. At the end of the day, the Panthers would gladly trade their 6-10 season for the Niners’ 13-3 campaign. The difference is we’ve seen what Smith can and can’t do when playing from behind, whereas Newton only has one season under his belt.

Stats don’t matter when you go 13-3, but we all know Smith and the Niners rely on their defense to keep them in games. If the defense slips, so too does the team. Newton showed last season that he has the ability to get his team back into games when they dig themselves into a hole. In terms of skill sets, Smith would have a much tougher time doing that if he were on a poor team.

H/T Shutdown Corner
Photo credit: Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

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