Smith nominated for comeback player of the year

The Alex Smith renaissance continues.

First, coach Jim Harbaugh referred to Smith as an “elite quarterback.”

Now, the NFL Players Association has nominated Smith for the Comeback Player of the Year award.

Smith faces stiff competition for the award: quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Tony Romo, tight end Jermichael Finley and wide receiver Steve Smith.

Last season, Smith separated his non-throwing shoulder after taking a blindside hit from Carolina’s Charles Johnson in Week 7. Smith returned in Week 13, but was replaced by Troy Smith in Week 16 and didn’t play in the final game.

This season, under the guidance of Harbaugh, Smith has led the 49ers to a surprising 8-1 start to the season, with the possibility of clinching a playoff berth by the end of November. He’s not putting up gaudy numbers, but he’s managing the games well and staying away from the costly mistakes that have plagued his career. Through nine games, Smith has only thrown three interceptions in 236 pass attempts.

After five less-than-spectacular seasons, many thought it was a mistake for Harbaugh to bring Smith back for a sixth season. But Smith is showing that he can play at the highest level. It really has been quite a comeback for Smith.

Surely, Smith would love to pick up this piece of hardware. But his mission is to keep the 49ers rolling towards to the ultimate goal of lifting the Lombardi Trophy on February 5th. If Smith continues to play well, he gives the 49ers as good of a chance to win the Super Bowl as any team in the league.