Niners’ Patrick Willis says confidence has allowed Alex Smith to play ‘lights out’

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith has silenced many of his doubters with his play over the last 13 months.

After being drafted No. 1 overall in 2005 Smith spent his first six NFL seasons being questioned, heckled and (figuratively) pitched under just about every bus in the Bay Area.

Niners linebacker Patrick Willis told “NFL AM” on Friday that he thinks Smith’s superlative play over the past 22 games has to do with the quarterback’s self-assurance.

“I think his confidence level is at another level,” Willis said. “I think anytime you want to do something in life you have to have confidence in yourself … it starts with you first having confidence in yourself, then it takes those around you to believe in you and have confidence in you.”

No doubt Jim Harbaugh’s arrival in San Francisco initiated the quarterback’s meteoric rise in self-confidence. A fiery leader, Harbaugh convinced Smith that he possesses the tools to justify that No. 1 overall selection.

“When you have that [confidence] in your corner, I feel like you are capable of doing anything,” Willis said. “He’s been playing lights out.”

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