SANTA CLARA – Alex Smith spoke last in the media tent on Friday. Here’s what he said, courtesy of the 49ers.
[WR] Randy [Moss] was saying it’s a work in progress, the offense, the passing game, and fitting in with you. Do you feel that way too?
“For sure, I guess I kind of always feel like it is. You’ve never arrived. You’re never there and we certainly aren’t there. You’re constantly striving for perfection, striving to get better and with the NFL, with the way it is today, the team will never be exactly the same. Things are constantly changing. You’re going to have new faces coming in, young and old and you adjust. It’s a whole new identity. It’s totally unique in itself, especially in the perimeter unit when you add new faces. It takes a little bit.”
Have you and Randy done anything special off the field, go to dinner, anything like that?
“You mean like a date? [laughter]
To build that chemistry?
“No one-on-one date. We’re not there just yet. We’re still more on the courting stage [laughter]. No, we’ve hung out a lot at OTA’s and team functions and stuff. During the offseason we spent some time together, but we’re not exclusive [laughter].”
Is it intimidating at all to be a quarterback with Randy Moss?
“Yeah, for sure. At first it definitely can be. As a guy you grew up watching, a veteran that does so much, the great thing about being around Randy is he makes keeps it light. He makes it fun to play out there. So that vanished pretty quick. He’s a great communicator out there. A guy that played that much, he sees things really well, communicates really well. So, it’s really been great working with him. Honestly I’ve learned a lot.”
Is your impression of him now different than what it was before?
“I guess I didn’t have an impression before besides the player he was and the special player he was, didn’t know what to think. I heard some from [Lions QB] Shaun [Hill]. Shaun Hill played with him and had nothing but good things to say. So other than that I didn’t really have an impression.”
At the end of last year, you talked about how this offense hasn’t scratched the surface of what it could be. Do you have an idea of where that surface is now, is it even more know because of the player’s you’ve added?
“I just think, no question, we’ve gotten better. Without a doubt, I mean naturally that part of it, I just think that this offseason we have gotten better. Not just in the sense that we have a year under our belt, but I really feel that personnel-wise we’ve gotten better. We’ve gotten more depth. But yeah, I think the next steps, the biggest one is consistency. Just doing that day-in and day-out, play after play after play, game-in and game-out. There’s always going to be ups and downs, but just not the fluctuation that we had last year at times.”
Is it going to look differently, schematically?
“For us the goal is to always be really balanced. We don’t want to be one-dimensional. We don’t want to be predictable. That’s not going to be us. We’re constantly going to be doing things a little different and whatever it takes to win. However we field the best matchup that week, the best way to attack a scheme, those types of things. It’s hard to put a finger on it.”
Did you throw more in this last year than how many other years?
“Tough to say, I learned a lot last year, for sure, both from teammates and especially coaches. Learned a lot just going through those experiences as well, getting to the postseason, playing in those types of games. Certainly you kind of just have to go through that in order to grow in that aspect. But I’ve learned a lot from a lot of the people I’ve been around, coaches and players. Been fortunate to have been around a lot of great coaches. But anytime [QB coach] Geep [Chryst], G-Ro [offensive coordinator Greg Roman], certainly coach Harbaugh, I mean the guy played the position that long. I’ve got a lot of guys that I’ve tried to soak up information from and learned quite a bit last year.”
You have some fast receivers on this team besides Moss. Is it challenging or different to throw the deep ball to him?
“Speed is a factor. The other thing certainly is his size and his ability to play the ball in the air. Those are things, I mean we talked about throwing together and learning. It is a process. I think that’s part of it. Certain guys are better at different things. They have better strengths, different strengths. So, no question those are things you just continue to work on.”
You said after the NFC Championship game, the best thing was to come back and light a fire. How long did that burn in your gut?
“I think that feeling is still there. As much as we all talk about pressing delete on last year, I mean obviously a lot of excitement going to the playoffs and the 13-3 and things like that and getting a playoff win. But I don’t think that anyone is pressing delete on the taste in our mouth. Working that hard to get that close to your goal and not get there is definitely, I think even more bitter than some of the losing seasons that we’ve been a part, that I’ve been a part of. So, no question, that is still there. Whether or not it’s a good thing, we’ll see.”
This is your second season with Greg Roman. Will you be adding new things or going deeper into his playbook?
“A better question for him. The first thing I’d say is both, get better at what we’re doing. Some things are going to stay the same, let’s get better at them, more consistent. At the same time let’s take steps in different directions. We’ve got a large catalog of film and things to look at from last year and really look at, ‘Hey what are we going to do better, do we need to scratch some things.’ Things like that.”
How curious are you about the battle for the backup job behind you? You know those guys well, you’ve been at meeting with them. How’s that going?
“Yeah, I’ve spent a lot of time, I mean we spend a ton of time together. They’re all very, they’re all good guys. We’ve got a great group in that quarterback room. I’ve said this before, this is by far this is the most talented group I’ve been a part of, as far as top to bottom and depth. Four guys that I really feel like can play at a high level. You just don’t see that. And they all have different strengths, they’re all extremely bright and they work extremely hard. That’s the thing, so no question. I’ve got the best view in the house I feel like. But no question, I feel like those guys push me. All three of those guys push me every day they come out and they all have a great mentality. When they step in there, they all go after it and it’s competitive and it’s great to have in the quarterback room. I don’t think you’d want it any other way.”
You seem to have a lot of depth at wide receiver. Jim said you guys have five number one receivers, you have the rookies too. At some point in camp, do you just sort of have to narrow it down to really build a relationship, a chemistry, a rapport with only a couple of those guys?
“Luckily that’s not my job. I do think that’s a tough job, this year more than ever. A bunch of talented guys, a lot of depth. But no, for me I’m not thinking about that. I really step into the huddle and no matter who’s in there I feel confident that those guys are going to know what they’re going to do, they’re going to win. I think that’s the great thing about having this problem is that’s what the season’s going to be like. Last year was a great testament to that and how many guys we had to play outside. The next guy’s in and he’s got to go. That’s the great aspect of football I think. And I think that’ll happen obviously as touches goes and the reps just kind of work themselves out. As you move on towards camp and you move into the heart of camp that stuff kind of takes care of itself.”
This is going to be your first full training camp with Michael Crabtree. What can you guys do with that full camp that you haven’t been able to do in the past?
“He had such a great spring and summer. I think just keep doing what he’s doing, what we’re doing. I felt like he had a great offseason. And I think just continue to work hard. The guy does so many things, he can do so many things. You need a guy in that sense to just keep getting better. Just keep getting, like I said, more consistent and just continue to strive to get better.”
How much did getting so close last year, is that motivation this year?
“I kind of answered with the other question. Certainly it’s still there, you still have that taste. But, it’s a brand new year. How can I say it? None of us are dwelling on what happened last year. You learn from it and move on. That’s the great nature of the NFL I think. There are no easy games. Everybody’s in it every year. Unlike any other professional sport, this is the sport I really feel like year-in and year-out, it’s anybody’s. Whoever can put it together. There’s so much parody across the league as far as talent. So, you have to earn everything. You have to start over. And it really starts today.”