There were a lot of things the 49ers could've planned to lean on late in a close playoff game ‒ an incredible defense that's almost without a weakness, a strong running game and a brash coach with some tricks up his sleeve.
A dual-threat quarterback, immune to fear and with the strength, accuracy and confidence to stick the ball into a tight window with the game on the line? They probably weren't counting on having that. They had it, though, because Alex Smith was a superhero late in the 4th quarter against the Saints.
Too many words already. The moving pictures tell the story so much better.
He's not him, of course, but the game he played on Saturday did evoke memories of the great Joe Montana. Alex Smith's performance was that inspiring.
It wasn't just those two plays, either. Smith finished with 299 passing yards on the day, continually dropping perfectly-placed footballs into the breadbasket of Vernon Davis. Add in three passing touchdowns, the one rushing touchdown, and maybe most importantly, no interceptions, and you've got a career day for Alex Smith. The kind of day that could change his career forever.
The running touchdown will be remembered more as a great call from Jim Harbaugh, and rightfully so, but Smith still executed it perfectly. Alex Smith is an athletic guy, but it's not like he's got the natural running ability of Adrian Peterson. He had to step outside his comfort zone and execute a play he doesn't see a whole lot of.
As for the game-winner to Vernon Davis, well, it doesn't get much better than that. In that situation, you expect that throw to be made by Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. You probably didn't expect it from Alex Smith, but Alex Smith probably did a lot of things you didn't expect today.
I don't know if he can reproduce this performance next week or next year, but on Saturday, Smith was special.