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The Giants' Brandon Belt, left, talks with Niners' coach Jim Harbaugh, center, and quarterback Alex Smith while waiting for the parade to start as the San Francisco Giants were feted with a parade down Market Street in San Francisco, Calif. Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012. The parade culminated in a rally in Civic Center Plaza in front of City Hall. The Giants are now two-time World Series winners in the 21st century, winning in 2010 and again in 2012 after sweeping the Detroit Tigers in four games. (Patrick Tehan/Staff)

SANTA CLARA -- No matter how much Steve Young raves about Alex Smith's passing efficiency and gritty resolve, Young knows what fans want.

"Who doesn't love a 60-yard bomb for a touchdown?" Young asked Thursday in an exclusive phone interview.

That's easy for Young to say, a Pro Football Hall of Famer who in the 49ers' last Super Bowl victory in 1995 threw a 44-yard touchdown strike to Jerry Rice on the third play from scrimmage.

Smith didn't exactly air it out Monday night during an 18-of-19 masterpiece. None of Smith's passes traveled more than 20 yards in the air, although he passed for 232 yards and three touchdowns.

Young came away impressed, having worked as an ESPN analyst at that 24-3 win in Arizona.

"No, there were no long ones, and people are going to peck away at that," Young said. "I don't know if that's their philosophy. With who they are, it's fine."

The 49ers are a first-place team that takes a 6-2 record into this weekend's bye. Defense remains their strong suit, complemented by arguably the NFL's top rushing attack and specialists.

Smith's contribution wasn't overshadowed Monday, and the league took notice by naming him the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Helping boost Smith's passing stats were the yards gained after catches by Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss. Crabtree produced two touchdown catches, but Moss' 47-yard touchdown catch-and-run really ignited a team-wide celebration.

Young said half the league's quarterbacks couldn't make the progressive read that led Smith back to Moss, who's made only 13 receptions all season. With Moss touting a team-high average of 18.1 yards per reception, shouldn't he deserve more opportunities?

"That's a great question. It's not a question for me," Smith responded Thursday. "We've got a lot of guys who can make plays. We're always going to be balanced."

Therein lies the 49ers' offensive quandary of whether they are willing to air it out when success has otherwise come from a low-risk strategy, coupled with the 49ers' defensive excellence.

Said Young: "That's a calculation every coach has got to make: 'Who are we? What can we count on?' I'd be concerned if I have to score 35 points. But I don't think the defense would ever allow 35 points."

What particularly impressed Young on Monday night were Smith's footwork, "flawless" execution with the play calls and his resolve after two "uneven" outings.

Smith remains aghast over a Sports Illustrated report questioning his confidence and mindset after an Oct. 18 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

"For it to come from a (reporter) who's around here only a couple times year, and he writes that article, I felt it was bogus," Smith said of the article, written by the well-respected Jim Trotter.

Young, if anyone, knows the pressure it takes to succeed in the 49ers' throne of quarterback, and he's convinced Smith is tougher than anyone realizes.

One thing Young isn't so sure about is the 49ers' once-spastic use of Colin Kaepernick in relief of Smith. "That was a little odd, the K-gun or whatever you call it," Young said. "I wasn't sure I got all that."

Kaepernick did not play in Monday night's game, only a few weeks after flourishing in cameos during the 49ers' routs of the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills.

Smith heard a request repeated over and over while he drove a car in the San Francisco Giants' championship parade Wednesday: Will the 49ers have a Super Bowl title to celebrate at season's end?

"A ton of people asked that, and I feel it's a trap of a question," Smith said. "It's so early, and so convenient to think that. We have a lot of work to do."

Thursday's workload included a slew of interviews as a pitchman for Visa. Smith has embraced that spokesman role, which included some acting on his behalf during a humorous commercial where a fan crashes the 49ers locker room as part of the credit company's ongoing promotion.

"Even though I had no lines, I had some acting to do," Smith said. "It was difficult to keep a straight face."

The same will hold true if he's takes the 49ers deep in the playoffs, and even if he doesn't take them deep down the field with 60-yard bombs.

For more on the 49ers, see Cam Inman's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CamInman.