For most NFL quarterbacks, leading your team to a 13-3 record and a playoff bye would mean a steady stream of free steak dinners and a silencing of the haters.
But for Alex Smith, the questions still linger, almost maliciously, about his role in San Francisco's revelation of a season under first-year coach Jim Harbaugh.
Smith has thrown 17 touchdowns to just five interceptions to the tune of a 90.7 passer rating. Gone are the drive-killing decisions of old, but the 49ers' run-heavy offense and dominant defense has kept Smith out of situations where he's asked to do too much through the air.
"I don't care," Smith told the San Jose Mercury News. "I really don't care. I'm looking to outscore him. He can throw for how many yards as he wants."
Harbaugh's received attention for setting appropriate boundaries around Smith's game, establishing an offense that plays to the quarterback's (the indication from some is "limited") strengths, but few and far between are the accounts of how hard Smith has worked since last season to improve his game. Remember, this is is a man who's led five game-winning drives this season, second only to Eli Manning and Tim Tebow.
"There are a lot of different ways to win in this league," Smith said. "We're not going to be somebody we're not. We're going to continue to do what we do ... Obviously this is why you play, to get into the postseason and get a ticket to the dance."