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Meyer sees QBs thrown into fire amid rocketing expectations

Blame the QB.

It's how we're wired.

What a strange sensation it must be for Alex Smith, who spent six seasons as the whipping boy for a frustrated 49ers fan base, to rest at the center of the team's surprising, but legitimate 5-1 start.

Coach Jim Harbaugh's steady grip has shaken Smith from his nightmarish jaunt of seven offensive coordinators in as many seasons to the tune of a 95.2 passer rating.

Smith's former coach at Utah, Urban Meyer -- who went on to coach Tim Tebow at Florida -- has tracked the 27-year-old's career, mildly appalled at the uneven situation he's endured in San Francisco.

"I follow the NFL a lot with Alex, Tim and other players," Meyer told The Sacramento Bee. "It's amazing to me in the NFL that if you're on a really bad team -- bad offense, bad defense, bad kicking game -- then it's the quarterback's fault.

"Alex was like my son. I was real close to Alex. I watched coordinator after coordinator come out of there. The defense was ranked near the bottom every year. It's a really bad team. And all of a sudden, it's, 'Well, Alex can't play.' And I'm thinking, 'What are you talking about? Alex certainly can play.' It's the same thing with Tim."

Certainly Meyer has a soft spot for his former players, but he also has a point. 

The pressure on today's young guns is jacked up all the way. When a player like Aaron Rodgers is carefully developed behind a veteran like Brett Favre, we're looking at a total departure from the norm. These days, you're thrown into the fire, normally on teams completely ill-equipped to support a young passer.

Get it done fast, or get out, pal. That's where we're at with the quarterback position.

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