49ers to start Troy Smith … will lightning strike the Rams twice?

Troy Smith: fear him?

Mike Singletary’s last shred of patience with Alex Smith lasted a damn short while — two starts, one good, one bad, which is about what you get. This week against the Rams, he has decided to see if lightning can strike twice: he’s named Troy Smith as the starting quarterback. That shiver  you just felt run down your back? That’s cold illogical fear — not a pure animal fear that you might have against a monster opponent like a Drew Brees or Tom Brady, but a fear borne of shame. A fear that asks into the dark: “Can we really let Troy Smith have his way with us … twice?”

Fellow Bloguin man Josh over at The Red and The Gold offered this take on Singletary’s now constant vacillation at the helm of this team:

This whole situation reminds me of when I’m hungry and looking for a snack, I’ll keep going back to look in the same cupboard, the same drawers 10 times somehow thinking that a new snack will magically appear. I think Mike Singletary and Mike Johnson are going back in the same QB cupboard thinking a new QB will magically appear.

— “If the 49ers Can’t Pick a QB, then Why Not Let the Fans

Now that he’s apparently made up his mind, though, it falls to the Rams to prevent Troy Smith from showing the same magic he did in their first matchup. The numbers are simply astounding…

Troy Smith Yards Yards/Attempt TDs
Week 10 vs STL 356 12.7 2*
Weeks 11-13 (average) 157 5.6 0.67
Rookie Season (avg as a starter) ** 171 6.1 1

* one of his TDs in Week 10 was a rushing score.
** Smith has only started two games in his career before this season, both in his rookie season.

The simple fact is, the Rams’ softness on big plays made Troy Smith look like a brand new quarterback. And while I generally frown on the Steve Spurrier philosophy of interchangeable QBs, in this case, why not gamble and dare the Rams to stop you? 

For the Rams, this game offers a big chance at redemption, especially in the secondary. The timid play of the Rams’ CBs — notably against the Saints, as VanRam at TurfShowTimes pointed out:

Without pressure, the responsibility for shutting down the Saints’ mighty passing game was left to a banged up secondary, without top cornerback Ron Bartell and key role player CB Justin King.

— “Questioning the Rams defensive strategy against New Orleans”

Also notable in that New Orleans game was the consistent depth that the Rams’ DBs gave up in front to the fleet core of Saints receivers. Even on a third-and-three, our corners were consistently lined up 6-8 yards off the line of scrimmage, all but conceding the first down rather than get burned big plays…

Exactly the kind of big plays that Troy Smith and the Niners blitzed us with just a few weeks earlier. The Rams’ defensive mojo has not been right since that week. This rematch on the home turf offers as good a chance to get it back as we will have, as we push forward toward the next level.