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49ers vs. Chargers Thursday Night Football Player To Watch: Quarterback Alex Smith

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Is it cliche to go with the quarterback? Probably - but it's also probably cliche for the 49ers to go with Alex Smith at this point. They've turned to him for what appears to be the fifteenth or twentieth time to save them, to be the quarterback he was supposed to be when they drafted him, and to lead the San Francisco 49ers deep into the playoffs, all the while saving the jobs of Mike Singletary and Co.

It's almost romantic, but it's still folly at this point. Is Alex Smith's career in the NFL over? No, it probably isn't. Can he still start somewhere in the NFL? Definitely a possibility. Will it be with the 49ers? That's a lot less possible. But there's still a chance, he's coming off his best performance of his career and that chance is what the 49ers are sticking with tonight, and it's why you should be watching him tonight against the San Diego Chargers.

Oh sure, they boast the league's best passing defense and a top ten rushing defense. They get to the quarterback with the pressure while the 49ers offensive line is mostly inexperienced. They can make plays on the ball and force turnovers while the Niners may be playing a little bit of desperate football. Things are not stacking up in Alex Smith's favor and when we don't have actual, factual statistics going in his favor, we've got to turn to the murky world of intangibles.

Some folks will hope that Alex Smith is "on" tonight. He's out there fighting for a job, fighting for the playoffs and fighting for respect. Number one ranked passing defense? No problem. A turnover-creating unit? Get outta town. Bringing the pressure on the outside? Bring all you got.

Perhaps he won't be that confident tonight, but it would certainly help. Watch a potentially desperate, but definitely focused Alex Smith tonight against the Chargers.