Sure, Alex Smith has had seven offensive coordinators, but he’s never had seven million critics – give or take – analyzing his every move.
Today, the 49ers quarterback was asked about the similar paths he and Giants quarterback Eli Manning have taken to the NFC Championship Game on Sunday. The game will mark the second time quarterbacks who were No. 1 overall picks will meet in a conference championship game. Denver’s John Elway met the Jets’ Vinny Testaverde in the 1998 AFC Championship Game.
Smith said he didn’t many similarities beyond their draft slot, noting the pressurized environment Manning inherited after he was the No. 1 pick in the 2004 draft.
“To be Peyton’s little brother, the No. 1 pick and you go to New York to play for the Giants,” Smith said. “That’s a lot of pressure. I don’t think anyone has been in the situation he has … Those are pretty unique circumstances. Your older brother is arguably the greatest quarterback ever and a lot of expectations are on you and you go to a big city like New York. I didn’t have to face those things.”
* Smith said the Giants have dialed back their defense since their 27-20 loss in San Francisco on Nov. 13. New York has forced 16 turnovers in its past nine games, including four in last week’s 37-20 divisional playoff win against the Packers.
“I think schematically, doing a little less is what I see,” Smith said. “Playing faster, though. I think it’s even helped them. Seem to be creating more turnovers. Playing faster on defense. Not quite doing as much, but just playing really sound football.”