SANTA CLARA — Here is what Alex Smith said at his locker Wednesday afternoon, courtesy of the 49ers.
You talked to Peter King about WR Randy Moss’ influence on the team. Have you seen his work ethic rub off on the other receivers? Have you seen his influence in action?
“All of our guys work hard, I didn’t mean it in a sense like that. Here’s a guy that’s, I mean how many years has he played in the league? I’m not sure, but anytime you get guys that have played 10- plus years in the NFL, they’re doing something right. They aren’t here and they don’t play that long for accident. Here’s a guy that’s a Hall of Famer. Even me as a quarterback, I don’t play that position, but yeah, you watch the work ethic, you watch the little things that go on day in and day out and he’s been a great example of that. It’s not just showing up on gameday. For people that think that, it’s not how it works. The guy just comes in and work, day in and day out, takes a lot of pride in what he does, run and pass. I think that’s been great.”
Does the run part of that surprise you? A veteran like that?
“I didn’t have any expectation, but in the meeting rooms, the attention to detail for sure. The questions asked, yeah, especially in the run game, no question. You can tell it’s something that he thinks about a lot and takes a lot of pride in.”
The bye week came right at the halfway point for you guys this year. 6-2, pretty good first half, what’d you see reflecting back and as you look forward now?
“For me, you have a few days off and you enjoy it with your family a little bit. Not really reflecting I guess, we’ll have time for that in the offseason. I mean, you hope you’re playing you’re best football come November and December. You hope as the season goes on, you’re playing better and better. As you move into the back half of the season, yeah, these are huge games. A majority of division games come this time of year, so you hope you’re playing your best football.”
How was the tempo in practice yesterday? Did everyone pick up where you left off?
“Yeah I thought it was great, great to get some reps out there. A day early, kind of knock some of the rust off, so to speak, from the days off. Thought it was great, didn’t see much. Guys came out and ran hard, was a lot of energy.”
RB Frank Gore was saying yesterday that this offensive line was giving him holes that he’s never had to run in before and the best O-line he’s ever played for. What’s your impression of how great this unit has been?
“I think they have a lot on their plate, week in and week out. We ask them to do a lot, run and pass. Really, our balance starts with them, the ability in the run game and then protect in the pass game. They have a lot of on their plate and they’ve done it, week in and week out. They continue to execute, it’s not just physically but mentally. They come into games ready to play, they know what they’re doing, they know their adjustments and they go out there and make them. They play fast. Really allowing us to be so balanced, it starts up front.”
I wouldn’t dare ask a scheme question, but teams, including the Rams, Jeff Fisher talked about what a unique run scheme you guys have, the very unique things you do that no other NFL teams are doing. Can you just talk about the creativity of it in a general sense?
“Yeah, I mean, better question for the coaches. But for me, I do feel like for one, everyone’s involved in the run game and we present a lot. I feel like we’re not predictable. Sometimes, stuff’s coming in the week and we’re going out and running it and a little bit learning it there. Don’t feel like they’re certainly out there knowing what we’re doing. We do a lot. We run inside, we run outside. We run all the schemes that there are. It’s fun.”
Not predictable in the sense that also you line up and they don’t know, ‘Okay, here comes a run?’ It could be run…
“Yeah, for sure. I mean, that’s the great thing, especially when you are balanced and you’re staying ahead of the chains, putting positive plays together that, run and pass. If you’re effective in both, it really makes it tough on a defense. And the more multiple you are, the better.”
What about the Rams defense?
“They’re good. Good across the board. It starts up front, really good D-line. Lot of guys that can make plays and win one-on-one. Very good at the linebacker level and then got a lot better in the secondary as well with the two new corners. Playing good football. They do a lot. They disguise well in the back end. They’re a little unorthodox in some of the coverages they play. It’s just not your typical things you see week-in, week-out. So, new stuff to get ready for.”
Is it comfortable to have some veterans back there as opposed to last year when they were just plugging guys in?
“Yeah, some veterans and [CB Cortland] Finnegan came over and was with that system in Tennessee. Two veteran guys at safety that really know what they’re doing, play well, disguise well.”
Are you pleased with the strides you guys have made on third down and red zone and what contributes to that?
“I haven’t looked at that stuff enough. You’re just trying to go out there and play down-in and down-out. I think it really starts staying ahead of the chains, not getting in bad third down situations. Third-and-short’s a lot easier than third-and-long. And same in the red zone, just a matter of executing down there. Just looking to get better and better obviously. Right in the middle of it right now, so just trying to take the right steps.”
Do you feel more confident down there with the weapons you have and the timing you guys have had these last few weeks?
“Love getting everybody involved, for sure. That kind of goes into all this, get down there and give them a lot to think about, not predictable. Everybody’s got to get their hand in there and makes it tough on the defense.”
They said that you guys are sort of a blueprint for what a lot of teams want to do at this point and that your coach said that just makes him want to kick them in the shins. Is that about right?
“I don’t know. Don’t know what to think about, I don’t pay a lot of attention to some of that stuff during the week. There’s a lot of coach-speak that goes on back and forth. I certainly don’t read about it, I only hear it through you guys. So, I don’t think we’re certainly where we want to be. We know what we’re capable of, but a lot left ahead of us.”