In news that will no doubt inspire eye-rolling in some circles, quarterback Alex Smith was applauded by his teammates Monday for his leadership.
Sound familiar? Smith was also hailed last offseason for his more assertive approach, but his leadership in June didn’t translate to playoff games in January.
So more talk of the new-and-sassier Alex might, understandably, be met with some skepticism. But it’s hard to justify any criticism of Smith’s take-charge approach.
Smith, the de facto coach, organized this week’s minicamp – personally contacting every member of the offense. He began Monday with a classroom session in which he explained plays, terminology and concepts to his teammates, who sat and watched Professor Smith at the projector.
“Alex is just as good as (having) a coach, man,” running back Anthony Dixon said. “It’s really impressive how much he knows.”
Tight end Vernon Davis said Smith, whose dad, Doug, is a former high school coach, was ultra-serious as he walked his teammates through parts of the playbook.
“He’s done a great job handling everything,” Davis said. “This is the Alex we need to see right here … someone who is taking his job serious. He wants to make sure all the guys around him getting job their done.”
• Alex Smith taketh. And he giveth 30 minutes today.
After closing Monday’s practice session in Spartan Stadium to the media, Smith acquiesced, a bit, and said reporters could watch the first half-hour of today’s workout. Smith said Thursday’s entire session would be open, at least to print media.
Prior to Monday’s practice, Smith told a group of reporters waiting inside the stadium that he was closing the workout. He explained that he didn’t want a potential distraction during the first day of the minicamp.
There was some conversation back and forth … Reporters: You can’t do that. Smith: Yes, I can.
At one point, a reporter told Smith that was his stance was a bit of a departure from his Mr. Nice Guy personality.
Smith smiled and agreed. Then he, basically, told us, once more, to beat it.
• San Jose State sports information director Lawrence Fan said the 49ers players, Smith presumably foremost among them, had made a “heartfelt donation” to the Spartan Foundation in exchange for use of the university’s facilities.
• T Joe Staley said, via Twitter, that G/T Adam Snyder and rookie G/C Daniel Kilgore will join the minicamp today after missing the first day.
• The 19 offensive players to attend Monday’s practice: QB Alex Smith, QB David Carr, QB Colin Kaepernick, RB Kendall Hunter, RB Anthony Dixon, FB Moran Norris, WR Michael Crabtree, WR Ted Ginn, WR Kyle Williams, WR Ronald Johnson, WR Dominique Zeigler, WR Kevin Jurovich, TE Vernon Davis, TE Delanie Walker, TE Nate Byham, T Joe Staley, T Anthony Davis, G Mike Iupati, G/C Mike Person.
• RB Frank Gore, who has been rehabbing his broken hip this offseason, is not expected to attend this week’s practices, according to Vernon Davis.
“We can excuse him,” Davis said. “… You know he’s going to come in, get the job done and work hard as hell.”
• I wrote this novella on 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, which, believe it or not, could have been even longer.
Among the quotes left on the cutting-room floor was this gem from former Ravens coach Brian Billick, who hailed his former assistant offensive line coach’s work ethic, “He’s the type of guy where you have to shove his meals under the door,” Billick said.
• The 49ers and Stanford University announced a partnership Monday to bring the Youth Impact Program (YIP) to the Bay Area. The four-week program will be held in July at Stanford and will be attended by 125 middle-school boys from East Palo Alto and San Jose.
YIP was founded by former 49ers linebacker Riki Ellison in 2003 and mentors at-risk, below-the-poverty-line boys through a program that combines academics and football. The program focuses on language skills, math and life skills such as gang prevention and conflict resolution.
Niners coach Jim Harbaugh and Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby attended a press conference Monday to announce the partnership at the 49ers Academy in East Palo Alto.