Time running out on 49ers' playoff hopes

  • 12/18/2008:C3: 49ers quarterback Alex Smith walks off the field following the 49ers loss to Arizona on Sept. 7.

    9/11/2008: C1: Injured 49ers quarterback Alex Smith walks off the field after Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals.

    9/9/2008:C5: 49ers quarterback Alex Smith walks off the field in street clothes after Sunday's game. Smith was unavailable after suffering a non-contact shoulder fracture. He may need season-ending surgery.

    PC: Alex Smith walks off the field in street clothes. Smith was unavailable after a shoulder injury. The Arizona Cardinals beat the San Francisco 49ers, 23-13, on Sunday, September 7, 2008.

SAN FRANCISCO ? Four-and-a-half games after replacing Shaun Hill as the starting quarterback, Alex Smith was asked for his assessment of the 49ers? offense.

?Some good. Some bad. Some in-between,? Smith concluded.

Time is running out on the 49ers? playoff hopes. In a final six-week stretch filled with must-win games, the 49ers (4-6) face the first ?biggest game? of the remainder of their season today against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Candlestick Park.

The 49ers? passing game has been very good in spurts since Smith took over. But his two best halves of football took place with the 49ers trailing by three touchdowns against the Houston Texans and the Green Bay Packers.

Working predominantly from the shotgun formation, Smith has piled up the statistics. His success in working from 5 yards behind center Eric Heitmann has prompted many to surmise the 49ers should line up in that formation all the time.

Generally, the 49ers have used the shotgun formation only on third downs, two-minute drills or when the team was far behind at halftime.

The 49ers rallied from a 23-3 halftime deficit against the Packers last week to close the final margin to 30-24.

?I don?t think the formation per se had a whole lot to do with it,? 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye said. ?The fact that we were in a semi-rally mode because we were down by four scores (actually, three) had something to do with it.?

Regardless of the reason, the statistics show Smith has experienced more success throwing the ball from the shotgun formation this season.

In 92 pass attempts from the shotgun, Smith has competed 58 throws (63 percent) with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. His passer rating in the shotgun is 95.3. Moreover, he has been sacked just four times.

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