Quarterback Alex Smith said he feels like he has unfinished business.
“This is the team that brought me out and gave me my first chance, and I really felt like I had a lot to prove here to myself, the organization to my teammates, to the fans,” Smith said just moments ago in a conference call. “And to really become the player I set out to become when I first came out of college. I’m grateful they gave me the opportunity to stay here and be a part of this.”
And that’s why he has decided to accept a pay cut and a new two-year contract to return to the 49ers this season. It also helps that he’ll be playing this season for coach Mike Singletary.
Smith and former coach Mike Nolan publicly feuded in 2007 after Smith sustained a shoulder injury. Their relationship was never repaired.
When asked if he would have returned if Nolan had remained as coach, Smith said, “The coaching change happened, so luckily I didn’t have to go down that road. Right now, with Coach Singletary here, the decision was easy. I wanted to stay and I wanted to be a part of this, and luckily they wanted me back.”
Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, said he has been assured the opportunity to compete with his groomsman Shaun Hill for the starting job. Last summer, things were mighty tense around the 49ers’ facility with Smith, Hill and J.T. O’Sullivan competing for the job. O’Sullivan was the only one of the three quarterbacks who knew Mike Martz’s offensive system. But he was not always willing to share information, said one source close to Smith.
Hill has a 7-3 record in 10 career starts over the past two seasons. Smith is 11-19 as a starter.
I asked Smith if he felt Hill has done enough to earn the starting job.
“All I do know is I’m going to get the chance to compete, and I’m excited about that,” Smith said. “Shaun has played well. We’re really good friends. I think he’s done a great job since he stepped in. That is obvious.
“I’m glad it’s against Shaun. He’s a great guy. I can’t think of a better guy to compete against. I’m excited about that – excited it’s going to be, with me and him, it’s all going to be on the table. We don’t have to worry about anything behind closed doors because we are so close.”
Smith returned recently from his honeymoon. He was married to former Raiders cheerleader Elizabeth Barry on Feb. 21 in
He will take part in the team’s minicamp next week. He said he has not spoken to the training staff about his schedule, but he expects to be able to take part without any limitations. Smith has been throwing since shortly after the end of the season. Smith spent last season on injured reserve after sustained a small fracture in his throwing shoulder at the end of training camp.
Smith sustained separated right shoulder in the fourth game of the 2007 season. He tried to return for three games later in the year before opting for season-ending surgery.
Several weeks ago, new 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye faxed Smith the fundamentals section of the playbook that deals with terminology and all the team’s shifts and motions. Smith said there is some carryover from the systems the 49ers have utilized the past three seasons. The terminology in Raye’s system most closely resembles Norv Turner’s offense of 2006. Smith said.
* * *
UPDATE (1:30 p.m.): The 49ers announced the official signings of defensive end Demetric Evans and return specialist Allen Rossum.
* * *