Alex Smith's excellent third quarter on Sunday has earned him something he rarely has achieved in seven seasons - national consideration. Smith is one of three quarterbacks being considered for weekly quarterback honors in the form of the FedEx "Air" player of the week. Fans can vote through Friday at noon here.
Smith threw for 291 yards and two touchdowns in the 49ers' 24-23 win over the Eagles. Both touchdowns and 179 of the passing yards came in the third quarter. Smith was 9-9 in the quarter, and it was the most yards in a single quarter in Smith's career. His rivals for this week are:
â€¢ Eli Manning, who completed 67.5 percent of his passes for 321 yards and two scores in the Giants' 31-27 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
â€¢ Aaron Rodgers, who completed 29 of 38 passes for 408 yards, four touchdowns and an interception in the Packers' 49-23 win over the Denver Broncos. His 134.5 quarterback rating was the highest on the weekend.
Through one quarter of the season, Smith is way down the list in passing yards (he ranks 28th) but has been one of the more efficient quarterbacks in the league. His 67.3 completion percentage ranks fourth (between Philip Rivers and Tom Brady) and his 97.7 passer rating ranks 8th. Perhaps most important to the 49ers' early success - Smith has thrown just one interception. Only one other quarterback who's started all four games, St. Louis' Sam Bradford, can claim that.
Smith never has won the "Air" award. However, he was nominated for his Week 14 performance last year against Seattle in which he threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns. Brady, however, ended winning the honor with a 369-yard, two-touchdown performance at a snowy Soldier Field in Chicago.
The NFL won't say who's leading in the voting. But most of the time, the player who gets the most buzz on social media sites -- Facebook, Twitter, etc. -- ends up winning. As of now, Smith is buzzing nationally better than Rodgers, the Super Bowl MVP, and Manning, who plays in the nation's media capital. How often does that happen?
Since the inception of the award in 2003, Jeff Garcia is the only 49ers quarterback to have won it. He did so in Week 14 of 2003, a 50-14 win over the Cardinals.
-- Matt Barrows