SANTA CLARA — Here’s what Greg Roman said about Alex Smith and the 49ers offense at the Thursday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers.
Can you just talk a little bit about QB Alex Smith and the improvement you’ve seen in him and what may have allowed him to take what looks like a pretty big leap this year?
“I think Alex is performing exactly as we hope any player of his ilk would. He’s just going to continue to get better incrementally as he goes. He’s not a guy that gets on the emotional roller-coaster. He’s not going to have the ups and downs that some people may. He comes in every day to work, trying to get better and that’s what it’s all about, improvement at every position. He’s certainly a shining start in that regard. I think it’s just totally understanding and grasping what we’re doing, and being a really good decision maker on the field. Shoot last week, boy he made some really accurate throws consistently throughout the game. Mentally, physically and then understanding the offense to where he’s running it on the field and he’s comfortable and things are just clicking for him quickly. He knows where people are going to be, he knows where to get people, that kind of thing. It’s just day in and day out, coming in with the attitude that he’s going to improve that day. I can’t say enough about that. He’s been a great leader from that standpoint.”
Is there any reason in particular you think things are clicking offensively?
“It’s just the natural progression. When you get good football players and they work hard and stay committed to improvement, you’re going to see improvement. I think it’s really that simple. Let me just say this though, I think the players around him – a quarterback is very dependent on the offensive line. The quarterback is very dependent on people that are blocking for him or trying to get open for him and make plays for him. So, I think it’s also a credit to the group around him. A lot of times quarterbacks get pigeonholed and it’s hey, it’s all because of them, all the good stuff or the bad stuff. The truth of the matter is, this a team sport, it’s the ultimate team sport. And offensive football, it all starts with the protection in the passing game. Then it comes down to guys getting open and then they’ve got to make plays. So, it’s a credit to everybody out on the field, getting that synergy going. It’s not just Alex, even though he’s doing his part, it’s everybody.”
Is that offensive line, are they grading out at the top level right now?
“They’re grading out really high. We’re always striving to get better, but we’re making the kind of improvements that we had hoped and certainly expect. They’re playing real well and they know they’ve got a big challenge this week against that New York Giants front.”
You’ve been able to do some things with WR Mario Manningham that the Giants never were able to do in four seasons there. Can you just talk about what he’s added to the offense? The dynamic he brings to you? He’s been able to do some different things.
“Yeah, Mario is a very talented receiver. He’s got a great feel for the game. He understands leverage, he understands how to get open. He’s got really, really, extremely good feet and he’s done nothing but a great job with catching the ball for us. He’s fast, straight line speed. He can get in and out of cuts really quickly and he also knows how to set up routes. Mario is a guy with a great attitude, shows up to work every day and gets his job done. He’s done a great job. I think Mario is a guy we can keep evolving with. I think he’s a very talented football player. He’s got a real tough mentality.”
Tom Coughlin described him as a good receiver along the sideline. What do you think that means? Just, he’s good in tight spaces, he’s quick in tight spaces?
“I think it’s just literal. You saw the play he made in the Super Bowl, great body control, understanding where he is on the field. He’s got great feet so he can tap his toes, drag his toe, very good balance. We’ve seen him practice, just starting in our OTA’s, him make some really, really great catches on the boundary. And then it’s highlighted by one of the biggest plays ever in the Super Bowl, Super Bowl history was that catch he made. Which was pretty remarkable if you really go back and look at it. It was something. He knows where he is on the field and he’s very talented.”
You guys are so healthy now, you have three guys who are on the ….knock on wood, but is it hard to find spots for guys who are trying to come back on the roster, Brandon Jacobs being chief among them?
“I think being healthy is a good thing. I think there’s a lot of different problems to have. There’s good problems and bad problems. And health will always fall under the good problem category. We can only pray and ask the Good Lord to bless us with great health.”
Have you been saving Brandon for this week?
“We haven’t been saving anybody for anything. Our policy as a team, in all those situations is one-and-a-half hours before the game we’re going to make public our strategy for that game. That’s where we stand there. All the strategic-type things are not something we want to let out there. I think we’ll keep those to ourselves.”
What’s it like to watch last week’s game again?
“There was a lot of really good things on the film. And it all comes down to 11 guys executing on the play. And I think that’s what our football squad got out of that, was just watching the film and seeing that really it’s nothing supernatural taking place. It’s just when everybody does their job consistently, wow, great things can happen. I think that’s the number one thing that jumped off. Everybody did their job, played with a lot of energy. That’s something that we can build on.”
What did you think about G Alex Boone calling you evil genius? What do you think about that?
“I don’t know how to answer that question. But Alex’s done a nice job stepping in for us at guard and he continues to get better. And he brings a lot of energy to the huddle. He brings a really great attitude in there. I think we’ve talked about this before, [C] Jon Goodwin’s like the older brother and then Boone is like the younger brother that just keeps pestering him, reminds me of my kids a little bit. But really, they’ve got a lot of good things going in that room.”