SAN FRANCISCO – Here is the complete transcript of Alex Smith’s postgame press conference, courtesy of the 49ers.
Alex, in the traditional West Coast Offense that they used to run when I was young, it was pass that set up the run. The way I look at your equation it’s the opposite. It’s run to set up the pass. So, I have two questions, am I in general correct about that? And if I am, what does it mean to a quarterback to have a running game like that?
“I would say this; I don’t look at it like that at all. I look at coming into a game; that this was a team that was second against the pass in the NFL and 19th against the run. And we aren’t going to be cookie cutter. I don’t want to get too much into any scheme or anything, but, you’re going to try to find matchups. You’re going to try to play to your strengths and where we match up against them. And that’s what I’ll say about that. We felt like we had some good matchups in the run game, and I think we really exploited them in the first half. And the second half I think they made some adjustments, and had to kind of overcome that. But, I think that’s why.”
So it’s more game by game as opposed to an overall philosophy?
“No question. I think it has to be. I think even when you go back to the old West Coast, I think it’s still that. I think you’re still trying to play to your matchups. You’re not trying to go out there and—I think if you’re one dimensional, I guess they’d look for it. A good defense can take that away.”
How would you describe what RB Frank Gore has done in this four-game stretch?
“Yeah Frank and obviously the O-line, and everybody in the blocking unit, I think our tight ends deserve some credit. I think our wideouts deserve a lot of credit in the run game. They don’t get paid to block. They get paid to catch passes. But, our wideouts have done an unbelievable job down field. And I think that’s why all of a sudden you see these longer runs by Frank in the recent weeks because we’re blocking down field. So, I think everybody on the offensive unit, really besides myself, deserves a lot of credit in the run game. Guys are working hard. I mean it. And I’m not just saying that. It’s the truth.”
Would you sense though that Frank has been on a mission since the season began, new contract, he ended early with the injury last year?
“Well I think the new contract and all of a sudden took a couple weeks to get going. I think we were all kind of frustrated with that. I think you could see that with the guys up front with Frank. And they just stayed with it, continued to work, and we’ve gotten better every week. They’ve gotten better every week, so.”
On this offense you’re kind of used to being tight end friendly, them getting a lot of passes; did Cleveland do anything to take that away this week?
“There’s a lot of man. Safety down in the box. I don’t know if it was necessarily something they did. We just didn’t connect this week; I think was more the effect. Certainly had stuff in the game plan. Just for whatever reason didn’t get to it. Didn’t end up connecting with them. Thought that we had some good matchups outside. So, I don’t know if it was anything in particular, just one of those weeks.”
Alex, you may have already addressed this, but the concept of sharing the ball with guys that don’t normally touch the ball. Is that by design, you couldn’t see a matchup there, is it kind of team spirit to spread the ball around a little bit, or a combination of both?
“Are you referring to the lineman catching the ball?”
“Yeah I think for sure something you see on film. But, yeah it keeps it loose. Obviously [DT] Isaac [Sopoaga]’s been in the short yardage goal line package for quite a few weeks now, and blocking well. And just a little wrinkle off of it to throwing the ball, and it helped us there at the end of a game. But, yeah something fun for [T] Joe [Staley] there. Joe’s an athletic tackle. And saw something on film, and made it work.”
Did you like his celebration?
“Yeah a little Prima donna-ish for a lineman. No it was great. Those guys are excited. I know he was. All those linemen were excited for him. They don’t get to do stuff like that very often. They were all telling him he better do something if he gets the catch, so.”
Alex, you’ve seen Frank Gore at work over the years, he just keeps grinding it out, what’s the feeling, just he’s our guy, or?
“Oh for sure. The linemen love him. He’s such a tough runner. I think the thing the guys appreciate about him is his vision. Great vision as a back. But, you look at yards after contact he’s such a great runner with that. He runs with such great pad level. I think it really helps those guys out, sets up blocks well. I know those guys love him. And, they’re hot right now. They’re playing well.”
You’ve seen the bad days in the past, how does it feel to be on such a winning momentum?
“Well if you’re in that locker room after the game, that’s all, I don’t really need to say anything. You can just feel it. The guys are pumped. It’s fun. It’s fun to be on a roll. Five in a row now. This is why you play. This is why you put in all the time, sacrifice, is to get the W. It’s not fun to go out there and play and lose.”
Are you going to do something for Staley? You said that the guys said that you should do something for Staley if he makes the catch.
“No, they were saying he had to do something. They don’t get that opportunity often. If he got a first down he better celebrate it.”
Alex, you didn’t just loft it to these guys either, Sopoaga and Staley, you led them a little bit. How did you know—
“I try not to make the big guys adjust. And that’s tough. You don’t want to aim it. But, yeah you certainly kind of want to put it on them. Hit them running. They’re both athletic guys though. It makes it easy.”
Were you surprised at all how WR Braylon Edwards was able to make it through the whole game number one, and also the chemistry you two had right away?
“Yeah it was great. And Braylon the entire bye week worked hard to get back to get his knee right. Put in a lot of time, and even through his injuries continued to put in time mentally. Never missed any meetings or anything like that. So, no surprise to me. It was great to have him back.”
This is kind of the year of the passers, you guys are doing it a different way.
“Yeah I think what, there’s three QBs still on pace to break [Former Dolphins QB Dan] Marino’s record. I think a lot gets made up of that. And you look at all three of those guys that are on pace to doing it. They’re all with the same coaches, same system for a long time, a lot of the same players around for a long time. It’s not something that just happens. It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of time, it’s a lot of chemistry developed over years. So, they’re definitely as far as the passing goes at the top of it. When you play quarterback though, you’re just trying to win games. That’s all I care about. I don’t care style points, how I’m doing it, as long as we’re winning.”