Is anchor link still relevant in SEO? And why?

Any SEO expert (me included) will tell you that is critical to have links from other valuable sites, preferably on self-descriptive anchors, based on what you want to be found after. This is one of the most important things in SEO. It’s proven. It works.

But, there is a “but”… I have a question, for google.

Almost nobody in normal language, in a normal site, will not put a link on an generic anchor in a web page. In most cases is unnatural.

If the site X is so good it worth mention, I will say WHY is good and I will put a link to it, on one of the two following formats: or Google.

It is highly unlikely to put in the text page “bla bla bla search engine bla bla bla”. Correct?

So, nobody will put the link on the anchor that site X desires it, unless:
a. it’s a requested link (link exchange, paid link, etc)
b. the site owner has too much time on his hands and is web savvy.

If this supposition is true, than why google pays so much attention to the right anchors? Maybe it should pay more attention to the words from the vicinity of the link than to the anchor itself. Or maybe the a + b cases are enough for Google to give them so much credit. Maybe there are far more people using anchors than I think, what is making this a large number event that google is using it.

Maybe google analyze it this fact very carefully and he decided that indeed is ok. Or maybe, when the new Caffeine will hit the net, the algorithm will change a little bit.

Maybe this fact is since the google  was taken very seriously the registrations in directors, but this is not true anymore.

Anyway, just a question….