SANTA CLARA – Alex Smith was a surprise speaker in the media tent this afternoon.
Here’s what he said.
Q: Before when you faced Baltimore it was an unfamiliar team. Now you have Seattle on a short week but you play them twice a year and you’ve already faced them once this season. Will facing Seattle be easier?
ALEX SMITH: No question, more familiarity there. It’s difficult in the sense that we played them the first week of the season and now it’s Week 16 so it’s been a while. A lot changes over the course of that many weeks. The time zone thing is a lot better – I mean we’re not traveling to the east coast, which is a benefit. But it’s still an away game. We’re going to have to travel so we have to take that into account. A lot of things to overcome. And they’re playing really well right now. They’ve won five of their last six. Playing really good football.
Q: How important is it to get that No. 2 seed for the playoffs?
ALEX SMITH: We’re definitely conscious of it. Obviously this is a division game, there’s a lot at stake here, so any time you’re playing a division game no matter what else is on the line after that, it’s always going to be intense.
Q: You guys have 11 wins and Seattle has three straight blow-out wins. The division has obviously been down for a few years. Is this going to be the highest quality game in the NFC West that you can remember?
ALEX SMITH: You know, maybe, it’s hard for me to remember. Obviously the last couple years, probably so. No question I think both Seattle and Arizona are playing good football and obviously Seattle is really hot right now. Playing really good on the defensive side of the ball. It’s going to be tough.
ME: Is there something particularly tough about playing in Seattle?
ALEX SMITH: Yeah. First of all the crowd noise jumps out at you.
ME: Is it the loudest stadium?
ALEX SMITH: It’s certainly the loudest outdoor (Stadiums). Louder than a lot of indoors as well. It’s a unique environment going up there. Obviously we play there every year but it’s still something…another thing we’re going to have to overcome.
ME: Alex, are you a Pro Bowl quarterback?
ALEX SMITH: (Laughs) That’s for you guys to decide. I don’t get to vote on it. I’m just trying to play football and win games. That’s for everybody else. I’m not thinking about that right now.
Q: But Alex, Harbaugh and Roman have been promoting you for the Pro Bowl. Could you talk about your journey this year? How satisfying has this season been for you?
ALEX SMITH: It’s hard when you’re still in the thick of it. That’s probably a better question to ask me at the end of the season whenever everything’s wrapped up. Right now there’s still a lot on the line. It’s not quite time for me to reflect on anything. We’ve done some good things, put ourselves in a good situation. Tough to reflect right now.
Q: What did you think of Jim going out of his way twice to promote you for the Pro Bowl?
ALEX SMITH: (Laughs) You know, it’s nice. Any time a quarterback’s getting credit or recognition it’s really a credit to the guys around him – everybody, coaches and players included. I’ve been pretty fortunate and I’ve got a great group.
ME: Alex, now that you’ve spent a few months with Harbaugh, how similar are yours’ and his personalities?
ALEX SMITH: (Laughs) I don’t know if I’ve met anyone that’s similar to Coach Harbaugh. And I meant that in a good way. He’s a unique guy. He’s got a unique perspective, a fresh perspective on things. He’s an individual thinker. So I’ve learned a lot from him.
ME: Would you say that his perspective and attitude has rubbed off on you?
ALEX SMITH: I try to take a lot away from Coach Harbaugh. Obviously the things he tells me directly, but there’s things I try to pick up indirectly. He’s got a great sense of not worrying about what other people are saying or doing, and just playing football.