SANTA CLARA — Wednesday at his locker, Alex Smith answered questions about throwing deep passes, among other things. Here’s a complete transcript, courtesy of the 49ers.
Can you talk about just the challenge that the Bills bring? Head Coach Jim Harbaugh called them the best defensive line you guys have faced.
“Yeah, extremely talented on the defensive side of the ball, across the board. It starts up front with their D-line for sure. A bunch of talented guys, all can make plays. Just continues on, linebackers a bunch of playmakers, really athletic group. And then the secondary as well, young outside, but talented. So, a good test for us.”
What can you learn from the Patriots now? The Patriots were able to put up 45 points in the second half against them.
“You learn from all the film. The Patriots are different, all the teams are different. You learn from it, here and there. It’s a different system. They have different players, so take what you can.”
I know that you guys don’t have too much time for contemplation, but do you ever think of where you would be without Jim Harbaugh?
“Not at the moment, no. Like you said, I’m in the middle of the season. I’m trying to get ready to play the Bills.”
You must be happy though, once he arrived things got better for you and the team.
“I’m really enjoying where I’m at right now. I love my teammates, love the entire organization, love going out and doing what I do.”
Does anything Jim do surprise you at all or do you feel you know him now?
“He constantly surprises me, for sure. The great thing, I think, is he just keeps it about football and that makes coming to work fun.”
Who is your best offensive lineman right now?
“They all play different positions. I don’t think you can compare them. They all play different positions, you got a center and two guards, two tackles, they play on different sides. I couldn’t tell you.”
How much has that group as a whole grown, second year in the system?
“They’re playing really well. Everything we do starts with them, run and pass, starts up front. Those guys know that. We put a lot on them, a lot at times, and every week they seem to step up.”
What do you mean by that, we put a lot on them?
“Not just physically, mentally. Every week you can turn on the film – you play Minnesota, you play Green Bay, with those fronts they get after the passer. A lot of the time you’re seeing, every team is helping them, every team chips, every team slides, seven-man protections, eight-man protections, things like that. We put a lot on those guys. A lot of times we ask them to man up and it’s one-on-one, and you’ve got to get it done and they do. It’s a credit to them.”
When you were doing the film study of the last game, how did QB Colin Kaepernick’s plays go over in the quarterback room?
“We watched it as a team, but it was great. Obviously extremely efficient, it was great to see him get in there and make some plays and help us win.”
Are you happy with the way you’re playing right now?
“There’s always room for improvement. You only seem to be as happy as you’re last game. What you could have done. Turn on the film and as a quarterback, for me, you’re always just could I have done better. What were the throws I could have made, what could I have done differently? Bottom line is getting the win and obviously it was a great win and looking to get better and move on towards the Bills.”
Do you feel like you’re thinking through things well? Looking on tape do you feel like it matches up with what you thought at the moment, in the moment?
“Yeah, for the most part. I really feel like I see things well out there for the most part. Sunday I felt like I saw everything well. There wasn’t much that I turned on the tape and surprised me.”
When you go through it, do you find yourself – the things you wish you did as more, you wish you threw the ball there or that you wish you didn’t throw the one that you did?
“Most of the time you’re more upset about missed opportunities for sure. Turn on the film and a decision you should have made, a guy you should have gone to. But for me though, there wasn’t much of that on Sunday. Really the couple deep shots we had and really just wish we could have hit them. We were close, we were close on all of them. It’s a fine line from hitting those.”
On those plays are you throwing it to a spot? There were a couple plays where I think WR Mario Manningham might have gotten held up a little bit. So, did that impede his progress on balls that should have been?
“Yeah, it certainly affects it when you’re getting held out there, especially throwing the ball downfield. It’s a combination. I’m not throwing to a spot blindly. You’re looking at the receiver, trying to get a feel of his angle, his speed, trying to hit him running.”
What happened on those particular plays?
“The one, especially down the left sideline there, an overthrow, probably too flat of a ball. Deep balls, if you don’t really get it up and turn it over, you give those guys a better chance to run under it. The second one, just a fine line, six inches, just getting it out there.”
Can’t help but notice, when you throw deep, you throw it to TE Vernon Davis most of the time. When you hit him, is it just a fact of coverage with him or are you just more comfortable with him throwing deep?
“It’ something he and I have a lot of work on. We’ve worked on it a lot over the years, for sure. So, he’s someone I feel extremely comfortable with letting the ball go. Feel like we have a good relationship, definitely feel comfortable there, you know, and getting there with the other guys. You know, it’s funny some days you, you hate saying this, but some days you hit all of them and some days you don’t. It’s kind of like that with the long ball a little bit sometimes. Such a fine line, they’re not high percentage throws. Something I think, practice you get better at, the more you do it you get better.”
How much part of your game plan should that be? Are you guys really working on integrating more long ball?
“That is something that is going to change week-to-week. It’s going to depend on matchups, who we like on the matchup. No, if a team is going to play conservative, especially the way the Jets did, turn on the film and every week before that, very aggressive. And turn on that film and they were not, a lot of coverage, two high safeties the entire time. So, you’re not going to get as many shots. That’s just the way the game goes.”
Obviously we talked a lot in May about your mechanics and former baseball player Tom House. How have your mechanics held up?
“I feel good. At this point, it’s not something that I’m thinking a lot about. I feel healthy. I feel really good. Shoulder feels great, my body feels good. So, that’s the most important thing.”