The 49ers return to the scene of the crime on Sunday. Sure, it was during the first meeting with the Seahawks in San Francisco that Alex Smith's shoulder was separated. But it was the second meeting between the teams, on Nov. 12 in Seattle, that really underscored how bizarre and dysfunctional the situation had become.
Smith struggled badly in the game, connecting on only 12 of 28 attempts as the 49ers were shut out in an ugly, ugly loss on national television. Later that week Smith told reporters what every observer had suspected for weeks - that his shoulder was messed up and had been killing him with every pass.
What was so warped about the situation is that no one on the 49ers seemed to stick up for him. Mike Nolan continually dismissed it as mere soreness. None of Smith's teammates said boo. Smith's agent never stepped in and said, "Hey, my client's getting killed out there. Stop the madness." Certainly Smith is complicit in the affair as he also told reporters he felt ok. But the 49ers - and Nolan in particularly - were looking for him to tough it out. Someone should have interceded on his behalf.
Ironically, the only one who stood up for Smith was his enemy. After the game in Seattle, Seahawks linebacker Julian Peterson said the quarterback didn't look like the player who had engineered a fourth-quarter comeback a year earlier in the same building. Peterson elaborated on that today during a conference call.
"I thought he wasn't ready to go," Peterson said. "I thought it was still kind of banged up. I thought he just tried to tough it out and it really wasn't a smart move for the team and for himself. But I just thought he tried to do it for the team and wasn't really ready."
Asked if he told Smith as much, Peterson said, "During the game? No. During the game we were just trying to kill him. After the game I just told him to keep his head up and make sure to get healthy enough for the next offseason to try to get better."
-- Matt Barrows