Jerry Rice wants 49ers to ‘take the diaper off’ Alex Smith

Alex Smith re-invented himself — and saved his career — under the tutelage of coach Jim Harbaugh, leading the 49ers to an appearance in the NFC Championship game last season. He did so with a controlled approach, leaning mostly on the running game, tight end Vernon Davis, and suffocating defensive play.

After the team went out and buffed up their receiving corps this offseason, adding Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, and rookie A.J. Jenkins, Smith now has plenty of weapons at his disposal.

Taking that into consideration, former Niners great and ESPN analyst Jerry Rice feels it’s time to remove the training wheels and let the pigskin fly.

“I seriously think they got to take the diaper off this guy and let him play,” Rice said Thursday, via USA Today. “Let him be a grown man.”

Rice’s position is understandable, given that Smith had just 445 passing attempts in 2011. Though he managed to throw for 3,144 yards and 17 touchdowns in a run-first offense, Smith rarely took shots downfield, a trend that has to change with Moss and Manningham, among others, vying for targets.

Zack Kelberman
An award-winning sportswriter, reporter and blogger, Zack currently serves as the Miami Dolphins live correspondent and Team Stream curator for Bleacher Report. He's also a freelance NFL writer and the founder/editor-in-chief of Helmet2Helmet. His work has appeared on media outlets such as ESPN, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports,,, and Zack can be reached on Twitter (@ZackKelberman) or via email (
  • Blake

    Still no respect for Alex Smith. The man went toe to toe with Brez and Manning in the playoffs and still doesn’t get the respect I think he deserves. Maybe he didn’t throw as much as they did. He throw what he needed to and still got it done. I don’t think coach is going to keep him down this coming season. Let it rip Smith, let the pig FLY.

    • john

      No doubt…..he beat the elite at their own game….Alex doubters- BEWARE!
      the pigskin will fly and it will fly far indeed.
      Predictions: randy n crab will have 1K yd seasons….Vernon will have 9 td rec…..delanie w 6…I’m rooting for Dixon but I hava feeling he will be in sea by the middle of Sept.

  • Danny

    Sorry I don’t think one good year automatically washes out all the bad years he’s had before. So at this point you can’t be talking about how underrated or how much lack of respect Alex gets.
    I also think he’s pretty much Trent Dilfer, a mediocre qb who won a superbowl on the heels of a Ravens defense.

  • Non-Bounty Contct

    Please just play smart football. I do not want a repeat of Singletary or Nolan. Enough is enough. I do not care if the 49ers win just play smart situational football and use the clock wisely. Thank you.

  • Does it really matter where the SF 49ers finish?The NY Giants will repeat as Super Bowl Champions if healthy.