Billick: Niners QB Smith showed he can play

Alex Smith has been named the starting quarterback for the 49ers. But what happens next in his second stint as the starter is anyone’s guess.

NFL Network analyst Brian Billick was on hand to call last week’s matchup between the 49ers and Texans, in which Smith nearly led a 21-point second-half comeback by completing 15 of 22 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns. Billick was impresssed by the performance.

“It was fun to watch Alex Smith get the opportunity to get himself back into the offense,” Billick told fans during his live chat on NFL.com. “He did show he can play this game. He may have that potential, with the addition of players like Michael Crabtree and the emergence of Vernon Davis, to do it for the 49ers.”

The qualifier, Billick believes, is whether the 49ers will choose to adjust their offense to fit Smith’s strengths. Smith, who excelled in the spread offense at Utah under Urban Meyer, is at his best in that format. 49ers coach Mike Singletary, however, promised a power-running attackĀ that focused on RB Frank Gore this season.

“I think San Francisco will have to make a fundamental decision,” Billick said. “Do they want to put him back into the formation and format of running the ball and playing good defense, which they’ve been fairly good with, or do they really allow him to open it up, much like he did in the second half of the Texans game?

“They have the assets to spread it out if they want.”

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