"I think he has a chance," Williamson said Thursday. "I'm surprised more teams weren't interested in him."
The 49ers signed Smith to a one-year, $545,000 contract Sept. 6, after the Ravens made Marc Bulger the No. 2 quarterback behind Joe Flacco. The Ravens wanted a more experienced player behind Flacco. Smith was not particularly impressive during the exhibition season. The Ravens knew he wasn't happy as a backup, let alone as a third-stringer.
In 2007, Smith completed 53 percent of his passes for 370 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 1-1 record in his only two starts with the Ravens. The victory came against Pittsburgh in Week 17, ending a nine-game losing streak and Brian Billick's run as head coach. Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu did not play for the Steelers. The defeat came at Seattle a week earlier.
"To me, Troy Smith is an ideal No. 2 and the league seems to see him as a No. 3, which I do not agree with," Williamson said. "He could be exactly what the 49ers need. Alex is so streaky. Troy Smith could be a refreshing change to the position."
Williamson was assistant recruiting coordinator at Pitt when Smith was playing high school ball in Ohio. He watched Smith for two years at that level before Smith enrolled at Ohio State.
"He is tough," Williamson said. "He is a city kid that plays really hard. His teammates love him. I am guessing he has a way different demeanor than Smith and David Carr."
Smith's relative lack of height stands out as one obvious negative at the NFL level.
"He is an athlete first and that is good and bad," Williamson said. "He is not the most refined passer or reader of coverages or accurate, but he makes plays, takes hits, tucks his head down. At the end of the day, he is still 6 foot and it shows. You can see him in the pocket struggling to find passing lanes."
Smith was the favorite to start for the Ravens in 2008 until a case of tonsillitis removed him from the race. Smith lost 20 pounds and could only watch as Flacco established himself as the starter.
"Frankly, he was going to win the Baltimore job if he didn’t get that ailment," Williamson said. "When they drafted Flacco, Troy was planning on being the starter, but they had to play Flacco and he took the job and ran with it. Troy Smith got Wally Pipped."