SANTA CLARA – Here is the complete transcript of Alex Smith’s Wednesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers.
Moving WR Michael Crabtree from X to Z, define that and what’s—I mean is Z still kind of a featured spot?
“Well, especially I mean, didn’t [Former 49ers WR] Jerry Rice play Z? Greatest receiver of all time, yeah exactly, so. I’ve got nothing else sorry.”
Alex, what makes it so tough to win on the road in this league?
“A lot of things go into that. Crowd noise for one, the travel, and any time, especially when you’re on one of the coasts and you’re traveling the other way, you’re talking about getting on a plane for four or five hours, I think that in itself has some kind of body effect. The time change plays into it. A lot of just new things. You’re not sleeping in your bed, you’re at a hotel. I think there’re a lot of new things that come with that, distractions. Less time to prepare potentially, so you practice early Friday morning. Then you’re getting on a plane immediately flying there. You get in late Friday night, wake up. Those are all hours lost. Most of the guys on Friday after practice still hang around here. You’re getting film time in. You’re getting whatever it is, the tubs, treatment. You’re kind of missing out on a chunk of time there preparation-wise because you’re on a plane. And you can’t really do much on a plane, so.”
Now that you’re 6-1 do you get a feel that teams are trying a little harder to knock you off your perch?
“I guess I’m not thinking about that. You would expect that, no question, but you’re in the meat of the season here. Everybody’s still fighting for everything they can. Everybody’s still in the hunt for the most part. So, these games are meaningful for everybody regardless of standings. The Redskins for example, we’re going to their place, but they are still in the thick of it in their division. And you’re thinking, well yeah they’ve got to get a W. So, a lot of things play into it.”
What has been the difference in getting over the hump on the road? In years past you guys have lost the two-point games by a field goal, just one little thing here and there.
“Great question. I’m not totally sure. I think in a lot of ways the staff and the guys in this locker room have really been able to just keep it about football. And all those exteriors I’ve talked about, all those distractions and things, really keep those out of the way and just keep it about football. It’s tough though. I think you look at a couple of our—the Cincinnati and the Eagles game, slow starts in the first half, and we’ll need to come out better than that. And the same can be said for the Detroit game, too. So, not perfect, but we’ve found a way to win. I still think obviously there are areas for improvement.”
Do you look forward to the clutch time more than you have in the past now that you’ve had these three road wins under your belt?
“Yeah, I mean those are obviously great situations, especially when you come out on top. And the digs come down at the end, and you’ve been fighting, they’ve been physical games, and then you come out on top at the end, it’s a great feeling. And I think you get more confident as a team the more you’ve been in those situations no question. So, I think having gone through that there’s definitely an area there that when you get in the situation again, you’ve been there before.”
When do you first see the game plan?
“Tuesday is when I start getting kind of a taste of what we’re going to be doing.”
And is every week sort of a new experience for you? It seems like you guys are always adding stuff. When you look at some of the new stuff, the new wrinkles, is this a big day of anticipation when you get that playbook?
“It just depends, some weeks more than others. You don’t know totally what to expect sometimes. Yeah, you’re coming in on Tuesday and there are a little more wrinkles than others. Sometimes it’s still kind of our fundamental foundation stuff. So, it just depends.”
Last week when you saw the potential pass to T Joe Staley, or your runs, not to mention DT Isaac Sopoaga, what goes through your mind?
“You get ready for them. You’re not totally sure. Sometimes we have things in that just don’t get called. We’re anticipating something and that’s why this is in, and then it just doesn’t end up coming the way the game flows. The situations we’re in, we don’t get the situation we want to call the play. So, there’s been weeks like that before, where we’ve had little things in that just don’t come up. Last week a lot of them came up, the QB runs, the couple of linemen passes, things like that. So, you prepare for them every week, but with some of those little wrinkles here and there. Last week I think we just managed to get in those situations.”
On the subject of the quarterback runs, did you slide too late?
“Yeah, I got kind of caught in one of those in-between positions in my mind. I think if you’re really trying to be a runner and get the most as you can, you go down head first there and try to take a glancing blow, and get what you can. If you’re really trying to do what you can, and get down, and not get touched, you slide earlier and avoid it. I kind of got caught in the in-between there. All of a sudden I’m in between two guys, and just kind of go down late awkwardly. Take a blow like that.”
Following up on what Matt’s asked, when you get the playbook, how thick is it for a week?
“For a week, not to get into too much detail obviously, as stuff progresses, the week goes on, third-down, red zone, all those situations, we continue to put in as it goes on. It’s tough to, I mean—some weeks more than others, yeah, I guess I don’t know.”
Are you aware that you’re beginning to sound like Head Coach Jim Harbaugh?
“Am I? Rubbing off?”
If you don’t mind my making an observation, when you were a losing team you were extremely talkative and playful, and now that you’re a very good winning team, you’re very cautious, like you wouldn’t tell me how thick the playbook is because maybe someone will yell at you that I don’t know about, and it’s very Harbaugh-ish, are you aware of that?
“We don’t talk about scheme around here. You know about that.”
“Yeah I think it’s smart. And I like it. I think there’s been too often times I’ve been up here rambling about stuff I shouldn’t be talking about.”
Final question and I won’t ask you how thick it is, is it a binder like you’d get at the drugstore, or are you not allowed to tell me that either?
“They are binders yeah, absolutely. It’s a three-ringed binder. I think I can say that. It’s thick, by the way.”
Alex, I think one thing I noticed with Harbaugh is how unselfish everybody is on this team. No one’s complaining about touches, catches, is that a part of what he’s instilled on this team?
“Oh, for sure, yeah from the top down, we’re going to get it done as a team. This isn’t about any individuals, coaches and players included. Find a way to get a win, that’s the bottom line. No question. So, yeah, I think it starts there.”
Alex, Harbaugh’s gotten a lot of attention for things like the blue collar shirts and who’s got it better than us, did that kind of thing make sense to you right away, or did he kind of have to win you over with some of the more gimmicky stuff for lack of a better word?
“I don’t think it’s necessarily to win anyone over. Because of the lockout and a lot of us didn’t have a lot of time around him before camp started, I think it’s whether or not it’s authentic. I think especially the guys who have been here a little while, you’ve been around guys and different coaches, and waiting to see if it’s all talk or what. And I think pretty quickly you find out it is authentic, and he’s not worried about what other people are thinking. He is who he is and he’s going to act accordingly. He has this deal where he doesn’t care what people are thinking around him, especially outside of this building. And I think guys like that a lot. I think guys appreciate that because it is authentic. The blue collar mentality, the selflessness, it’s not just talk.”
What told you that it wasn’t talk?
“There are a lot of things. I think just being around him. Especially in camp you’re around each other basically 24 hours a day. You get a sense. You get a feel for everybody in the building, and I think that’s where it happens.”
When you see a play going to Staley that was scripted, you knew that was coming, the one to Sopoaga from what we understand was selected by Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman later in the game, when you get everyone involved like that, can you explain the effect it has on this offense and the team throughout practice the next week, I mean what have you seen that’s been different knowing that rather than same guys, different plays?
“I think a lot of attention obviously needs to be made to Isaac and Joe catching the passes, but everybody’s included in the game plans. I think there’s something for everybody. I think all the guys appreciate that they all have a piece, they all fit in. And I think that goes back to the selflessness that this isn’t about any one person. We’re all a part of this. We’re all going to help each other win. And I think the emphasis is on the details that if a receiver’s backside blocking, if he does a good job, he’s going to get recognized in front of the whole—we’re all going to recognize that. Especially coaches, that’s not something that goes unnoticed around here. And those are all little things to help us win games. Things like that I think encourage that, and create a better atmosphere, especially on offense.”
Alex, when you had said on Sunday night that RB Frank Gore has a vision that you guys appreciate, what exactly do you mean by that? And one other one following up on Phil, does wining make you a believer in a coach?
“Yeah it (winning) definitely helps. That’s for sure. It’s obviously working. He’s easy to buy into no question. As far as the Frank thing goes, it’s easy to turn on the film and you’ve got the slow-mo clicker in your hand to slow down runs. When they’re happening full-speed, all the things that are happening are just flashes and blurs. And Frank’s got to be back there evaluating all of that instantly. It’s all just registering instantly. A lot of it’s gut reaction things like that. But he has such great vision and a feel of when defenses are overplaying, things cutting back, setting up lineman’s blocks. I think that’s kind of what I was referring to.”