Smith’s QB play has ’tilted toward outstanding,’ says coordinator

Niners offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye speaks with the media every Thursday. Today, he let it be known exactly where he stands as it pertains to the question about the 49ers’ quarterback of the future.


Raye has been very impressed with Alex Smith’s play in the 4 ½ games in which he has been the starter. “The quarterback play has been very good and at times it has even titled toward being outstanding,” Raye said.


Raye was very impressed with how Smith played in the second half of Sunday’s game against the Packers. The only issues Raye brought up when speaking about Smith were his need to put it all together for a complete game and continuing to build his confidence.


Q: It sounds as if you think Alex is on the fast track to being a really good player in this league. Is that accurate?


Raye: “I think he has demonstrated . . . what you have to understand if you go back and look film of the development of some of the outstanding quarterbacks in this league . . . he’s in his fourth or fifth year with a two-year hiatus in which he didn’t play at all. He’s had four or five different systems, but he demonstrates in portions of games . . . you don’t find many quarterbacks who throw three touchdown passes in the second halves of games, be it from behind or be it in the lead. If you do that, you do it. It has nothing to do with the score or the other team or the opponent and whether they’re playing bend-don’t-break. Once you do that, you do it. And he has demonstrated on several occasions that he’s capable of scoring points.


“So, I’d say, yeah, he’s well on his way. His maturity and all the other things fit together to play the position – he’s tough enough; he has escapability; he kept a play alive in the third quarter and got a first down with his legs running the ball. He has all those things. It’s his confidence that we’re continuing to expand to let him be the best he can be. Whether that will be in the upper echelon in the NFL, I don’t know. But he certainly has a chance to be good enough.”


Q: In the second half against the Packers, the thing they were looking to avoid most where the big plays. But he hit passes down the field to Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. Is that what makes it impressive to you that he was hitting the plays the Packers were set to defend?


Raye: “I think they were trying not to give up the strike over the top ball, but became vulnerable to the deep ball with the style of secondary coverage they were playing. Then, they had to shift gears and try to pressure him and see if they could get the ball to come out quicker to negate Vernon Davis’ speed and Crabtree’s vertical (routes) up the field. When they tried to pressure him, he hit them. When they tried to defend, he hit him. So then they got to a point where it was mix the pressure and mix the coverage and he was still able to move the ball. The last score we went in on with 5:48 left in the game, they were in a different mode in their boundary because they hadn’t figured out a way to curtail what he was doing.”


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On the surface, this looks like it could be a really bad year to head into the offseason looking for a quick fix at quarterback. Because of the expected uncapped year, only unsigned players with six years of service would be eligible for unrestricted free agency. That list of potential free agents includes no current starting quarterbacks: Chad Pennington, Rex Grossman, Kyle Boller, David Carr, Daunte Culpepper, A.J. Feeley, Josh McCown, Chris Redman, Brian St. Pierre, Charlie Batch and Mark Brunell.


And there is no buzz yet about a college quarterback who has distinguished himself above the rest.


So the best thing for the future of the 49ers is that Jimmy Raye is correct in saying Alex Smith “has a chance to be good enough.”


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Out for Sunday’s game: CB Nate Clements (shoulder), T Joe Staley (knee).

Did not participate in practice: WR Arnaz Battle (ankle), WR Isaac Bruce (ankle), DT Aubrayo Franklin (not injury related), S Michael Lewis (quadricep), RB Michael Robinson (shoulder), LB Takeo Spikes (hamstring)

Limited practice: CB Marcus Hudson (back).

Full participation: G David Baas (ankle), CB Tarell Brown (knee), S Reggie Smith (abdomen), T Adam Snyder (shoulder), S Curtis Taylor (knee), LB Patrick Willis (shoulder).



Out for Sunday’s game: CB Rashean Mathis (groin).

Limited practice: RB Maurice Jones-Drew (knee), WR Mike Sims-Walker (knee).


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In case you missed it, earlier today coach Mike Singletary announced Dre’ Bly is now a starter and Isaac Bruce will be inactive for Sunday’s game.


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