Mike Tomlin will have an eye out for quarterback Alex Smith when the Pittsburgh Steelers meet the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on Monday night. Tomlin told reporters that Smith had matured into a starting quarterback for the 49ers. Tomlin stated that the 27-year-old had put in good performances this season that have quite easily won him the No. 1 title. Tomlin also said that Smith was a consistent performer, who had impeccable chemistry with his team.
“I believe that, but I believe he has been capable of that for some time,” Tomlin said, commenting on Smith being the Niners' top quarterback. “What he has now is a stable, consistent culture and some guys around him who are rightly motivated, and his talents and strengths are showing through.”
Tomlin also pointed out that Smith had shown great chemistry with wide receiver Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis, especially in the red zone. Acknowledging the intelligent link between them coach Jim Harbaugh often bases his strategies around the trio.
“A lot of the balls are centered around those two guys,” said Tomlin referring to Crabtree and Davis. “They have a bunch of quality depth when you’re talking about former first-round picks Braylon Edwards and Ted Ginn, but when they really cut to the chase, they look toward Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis.”
Tomlin mentioned that he had formulated a couple of strategies to counter 49ers play in the last week. Nonetheless, Tomlin didn’t want his players to worry about what the points were on the scoreboard. Tomlin said that he had advised his men to play their natural game against the 49ers.
“We’ve said, and we’ve said for some time now that if we win we don’t have to look around. So we focus on those things. Thankfully we’re in a solid enough position where we can have that approach. If we win, we don’t have to look around to see what’s happening with the Joneses, and we don’t.”
Tomlin also mouthed words of praise for Frank Gore, who still happens to be the fourth most productive running back in the NFL.
“Frank is a 1,000-yard rusher for the fifth straight year, and he just passed Roger Craig as the most productive running back in 49ers history,” Tomlin said. “This guy is a really good football player and has been for some time. He is a well-kept secret because they hadn’t won a lot of games out there. The fact they’re 10-3 makes him one of the top backs in conversations now, but really in league circles he probably has been for a number of years.”