While they surely played a role, something Smith said Tuesday from Super Bowl media day caught my attention. I wondered if it represented a shift as Smith, benched as the 49ers made their Super Bowl run, recasts himself for future employers as more than a product of the 49ers' successful system.
"I really feel like even a few years ago I was the same player," Smith said from the Superdome. "I really think the difference is the receiver group around me changed. [We have] a good system, putting guys in a position to make plays, playing good, sound football and just doing it more consistently."
We have in the past traced Smith's improvement to the latter stages of the 2010 season, when Mike Singletary was the head coach. Smith had eight touchdowns and one interception in his final six starts that season. Brian Burke of Advanced NFL Stats previously traced Smith's improvement back to 2009.
This is a subject I'd like to revisit after the season.