It’s certainly been an up and down journey for Alex Smith since he was selected first in the 2005 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers on April 23, 2005.
When you are taken first in the NFL draft more than likely you will end up at a team that is rebuilding by definition, as the team with the worst record gets to pick first. You hope that rebuilding is a steady progression to the playoffs and beyond. What you never expect is 6 different offensive coordinators over the course of 7 seasons, but that was indeed what Alex Smith faced with the 49ers.
All the uncertainty changed during the 2011 NFL season as the 49ers hired Jim Harbaugh from Stanford to be their head coach. Before the season started nobody was sure who the quarterback would be. But due to the strike and lockout before the 2011 NFL season which caused a greatly shortened pre season, the 49ers really had no choice but to stick with Alex Smith for another year.
What a difference an elite head coach and coaching staff meant for the team. The San Francisco 49ers had only 6 wins during the 2010 NFL regular season. They finished the 2011 regular season with 13 wins and the number one seed for the NFC.
As the number one seed in the conference the 49ers got a bye the first week of the playoffs and get to host the lowest remaining seed ( the New Orleans Saints ) in their first round game.
More information about this playoff game and how the rest of the season went can be found at 2011 Season San Francisco 49ers.
In 2016 NFL Media analyst Elliot Harrison after reviewing five decades of NFL Divisional Round games ranked this playoff game 3rd best of all time. He also commented that this might have been the best football game in the last ten years.
The San Francisco 49ers now play at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Website: http://www.49ers.com/