Grab bag: Alex offers ‘poor’ self-assessment

Ball security? Alex Smith concedes it could stand improvement in 2011. -- AP

Alex Smith has his share of critics, including … Alex Smith.

On Thursday, the 49ers’ presumptive quarterback said he’s looked back at plenty of tape from his 2010 season. And after further review, he gave himself a grade of, well, “poor.”

“I look back at last year’s tape and in a lot of ways (my) fundamentals in a lot of things we’re poor,” Smith said. “I look at my feet and some games (I was) very poor. Ball security in some different areas, even within the pocket, was poor. I just really felt like last year at certain points I played very rushed for some reason and I look to fix that.”

How to fix that? Smith clearly believes a new coaching staff – and offense – will assist him.

Jim Harbaugh’s hiring played a huge role in Smith’s decision to return to San Francisco – a decision he said he arrived at “a few months ago.” He said it was before the one-day window when the lockout was lifted and Harbaugh gave him a playbook on April 29.

On Thursday, Smith said he was immediately excited when he met with the new offensive staff in the offseason. He also noted Harbaugh’s experience as a former NFL quarterback and termed the new offense “QB-friendly in the sense that we’re always going to be put in good situations.”

Smith, you might have heard, played for two defensive-minded coaches in Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary during the first six seasons of his career.

“I think having coach Harbaugh, who has played the position, and the rest of the guys on offense understand what it’s like to be back in that pocket,” Smith said. “That’s a different story when you’re playing for a head coach who has been back in that position …

“I think they put a lot of thought into (the playbook). (Offensive coordinator Greg) Roman, all the coaches on the offensive staff, they’re on the ball. They’re sharp. They’re all very good. I was just excited from Day 1, since I stepped into that offense side of the room, about what they were bringing to the table.”

• Just a reminder … not all of Smith’s 2010 tape was terrible.

In his final six games (five starts), he threw eight touchdowns and one interception in 152 attempts and had a 95.5 quarterback rating. In his final three starts, he posted the highest (130.9) and fourth-highest (107.8) passer ratings of his career.

• A few other Smith quotes …

On why he “absolutely” believes he will be the starting quarterback: “That’s why I’m doing this. I don’t put in this time, I don’t sacrifice all this stuff to not be that. It’s that drive in me that I’ve had and I will continue to have. I want to play football. I love to play this game and I’ve got more to prove than ever to be honest with you.”

On what he has to prove: “For myself, for my teammates, for everyone, I just think I know I can play this game at a high level. And I haven’t done it consistently, yet. I’m determined to do so.”

On if he thinks fans will be patient with him: “No. When are fans patient? And that’s the nature of the game. All fans are like that. You win a few games and I don’t think anyone will remember anything. But you go the other way and they’re going to be upset. So that’s part of the deal. If you can’t handle that you shouldn’t be playing this.”

On his decision to stay with 49ers: “I was trying to make the right decision. I was trying to step away, clear my head and figure out what is the best decision for me, my career (and) my best chance for success to win games ultimately, if I’m really being honest. That’s why we play this, especially quarterbacks. We play to win. I’m tired of losing. I’m tired of watching people play in January and February.”

• In case you missed it, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee broke the story this week that the brains of 49ers Hall-of-Fame running backs Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson will be examined at Boston University. Their brains are being examined for evidence of a disease associated with severe head trauma. Barrows’ story is here.

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