SANTA CLARA – On Friday, Alex Smith discussed why the Niners defense has recently dominated the offense in practice, how the passing game has progressed what he thinks of A.J. Jenkins so far. Here’s a transcript, courtesy of the 49ers.
How would you describe the last two days as far as it pertains to who has gotten the better of whom out there?
“Lopsided the last couple of days. New phase of camp for us in the sense that, kind of going first, second and third down and all of the sudden the last two days were red zone and red zone emphasis. First two days of it and not good. The defense definitely got the better of us, I felt like, in all aspects, 7-on-7 and team. So, obviously room for improvement, need to get better.”
Was that due to the fact that there just hasn’t been a lot of contact up to this point and that favors the defense?
“No, I don’t think that. There’s a lot of things that go into it. One, they’re a great defense. Great players, ready players, they know what they’re doing, play fast. We’re not game planning what our defense is doing necessarily. You’re putting stuff in that you’re potentially going to see down the line versus different defenses. We still have got to go execute. There’s no excuse. Yesterday, a lot of turnovers for a multitude of reasons. Today was a little better in that regard, but still didn’t get much done. Just falls on us as a whole on offense, just need to execute better.”
[Head Coach] Jim Harbaugh just described DT Justin Smith as a guy who every other team wants but still goes out there every day like he’s trying to make the team. Do you guys ever tell him to slow down?
“I don’t. Maybe the O-Linemen do. It seems like it’s contagious. I feel like the entire D-Line plays like that. A lot of great players up there and they all practice that way. They all practice extremely hard and love football. The whole defense in general too, but especially that front. On one hand it’s great for us. It’s great to go against them every single day. They play every defense imaginable, every coverage, every pressure. They’ve got the whole gambit and they let you see it. So in that in sense, it’s great work for us. We’ve got to get better though, better than we were the last two days at least.”
How’s the passing game progressed since training camp began?
“I feel like we’ve had a good camp. Obviously, I feel like everybody on offense has really zoned in on the last two days and made a lot of emphasis of it, and it hasn’t been good enough. Prior to that, I feel like we got off to a good start. In the passing game especially been doing some good things. This is situational football. The last two days has been heavy red zone and like I said, it’s a tough opponent but we’ve got to get better too.”
That first day of camp I raised the question of potentially having WR Michael Crabtree for the whole camp and here he hasn’t been out there for a week. Does that set you and that combination back?
“At this point, not worried about it. He had such a great spring and summer. I don’t know when he’s going to be back, but we’ll look forward to his return. Hopefully it’s not too long. I know I feel good about what he got done this offseason. It’s a long camp. I feel like he’ll get back and get some good work in.”
What are your thoughts on DT Ray McDonald? He was riding the bench for a while, now he’s getting his chance and playing really well. To what degree have you seen over time his confidence grown both off the field and in the locker room?
“I feel like that entire D-Line just feeds off each other, highly competitive group. They do everything together. They compete with each other at everything. Whether they’re in the weight room squatting or out there on the field, who’s making plays and who’s not on game day as well. They’re a fun group. It’s infectious and I think it rubs off on each other. Ray’s a big part of that. You see he’s a big time player, really coming into his own as a player. No question when you do that, it creeps in and you get confidence as a teammate and leader.”
You of all people must be happy that the radio system is new this year?
“Yeah, hopefully it’s better than the last couple years.”
Could you tell any difference today?
“It does seem better. It’s clearer off the bat, comes in better. The last couple years it always seems like we never really had many problems on the practice field. It’s not until you get to the stadium that for some reason it doesn’t seem to work as well. Hopefully this one does better up at The Stick.”
Did you guys ever suspect that it was a home cooking type of thing where the visiting team would always have something weird?
“Yeah, but it’d even happen at home sometimes. It just seemed like it was a touchy deal. Go in and out. For sure on the road it seemed like it would happen more often, but it would happen at home too. You expect more when you come in as a rookie, you’re thinking this is going to be some crazy high-tech stuff and then you actually look in the helmet and it’s not. You’ve got like AAA batteries sitting in there.”
When you talk to [Packers QB] Aaron Rodgers, those other guys do they have the same problem?
“I think the headset problem is universal across the NFL. I think every quarterback has dealt with it and you have problems. You’ve got to have a plan ready, a Plan B, what you’re going to do.”
And how many times have you had to hear half the call and then make up the rest?
“That happens quite a bit. Sometimes no call at all and you just got to go with something. Sometimes it goes out. We were very proactive here especially last year with the backup system. With the wristband it makes it easier using signals and things like that we can get a play in.”
What’s your perspective on where WR A.J. Jenkins is as far as his progress?
“I feel like he’s coming along just great. I think a lot got made of his offseason which is tough. I mean as a rookie the expectation level is nothing, to come in in an offseason and expect something. I think he’s in a great place. He’s got a lot of guys to learn from, a lot of guys that have played a lot of football, guys that all have different strengths. He can watch them play and see how they win. How they play to their strengths. Watch how professional they are. I think he’s in a great place, a great place to just steadily keep improving. I think he’s going to be just fine. No question about his talent. I think the big thing obviously is the playbook size is just so much different than the college level, run and pass, and just continuing to learn it and the details of it.”
What is his talent level? What does he do that distinguishes him?
“I think he’s a guy that can just about do everything. I think the thing that really distinguishes him is you just see the natural, I don’t know if you want to call it foot talent, speed, in and out of cuts, that type of stuff. You see him in and out of breaks and you can see it there. The separation he can get, it just comes natural. Especially coming out sideways, breaking down, getting in and out of cuts, things like that. He has a great feel, great body language. I think it’s something that is one of his strengths.”
RB Brandon Jacobs was saying he’s lost 15 pounds since the spring, he still looks fairly large, can you tell if the guy’s changed his body?
“Yeah, I can. I don’t think he’ll ever not look large. But no question, I do feel I can tell he’s slimmed down since the first day I saw him. In a good way. I feel like he looks really good. I know from the little bit I’ve heard talking to him, I know he really likes what’s going on in our weight room and conditioning and stuff like that and has really taken to it. I think he looks great.”