2009 March Minicamp Press Conferences: Shaun Hill and Alex Smith

With the first minicamp comes the first press conferences for coaches and players.  I previously posted the Mike Singletary transcript, and thought it made sense to have the Shaun Hill and Alex Smith transcripts together away from the Singletary transcript.  Damon Huard aside, the QB competition will once again get pretty high billing in the 49ers offseason.

SHAUN HILL
RE: What’s the mindset going into this camp? Anything different as far as being in the competition mode?
“Yeah, like I said last year, every year no matter what position you’re in, you’re always competing. Competing to get better.  As a team, obviously we have to build on how we finished last year and take no steps back. We have to get better.”

RE: We’ve all heard about Jay Cutler getting upset when he heard about the Bronco’s trying to trade for Matt Cassell. What was your reaction to seeing the 49ers trying to bring in Kurt Warner?
“When I take a step back and I put myself in their shoes, he’s a future Hall of Famer and if I’m part of an organization and have a chance to bring a guy in and talk to him, I would do the same. As you guys know, I don’t really get sensitive about things like that. Things that are out of my control. Obviously it was good news that he didn’t come for me, so that was as far as I’d take it.”

RE: Did you feel at all disrespected? It seems like your accomplishments at the end of last season haven’t gotten the credit that maybe you would like them to in terms of you having to compete for the job instead of being the guy?
“That’s just the way my whole career ahs been on every level. College was the same way. That’s just the way it’s always been. I guess that’s all I know. No, as far as being disrespected, I don’t get sensitive about stuff like that. I just show up and try to do the best I can.”

RE: So you’re not demanding a trade?
“No.”

RE: What would it take for you to demand a trade?
“I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it.”

RE: You and Alex are back at it again now that he’s re-signed with the team and you did compete in the last couple of years. How do you look at that? Is he ready? Have you seen him?
“We’ve looked at it the same. First of all, we’re great friends. I think everybody knows that. And this competition won’t change that. So we’ve been in this role before and we’ve done it and been friends after that. And whoever does end up getting the starting position, whoever the second guy is will take a step back and he’ll be the second guy. He’ll help the first guy. So we know that going in, which is nice. A lot of quarterback competitions like that, I don’t think, could say that, whereas in our situation this team will benefit from the competition.”

RE: What sort of discussions have you had with Jimmy Raye since he was named offensive coordinator?
“Install. Install. No, everything has been good. Every time I’ve spoken to him I just get really excited about what we’re going to do and all of the things that we’ve started to install and talk about. So very excited and I think everybody is. He had a chance to stand in front of the whole offense today and speak and you could just feel how energized and how excited everybody was.”

RE: How many times have you talked to him? Has it been one on one? And also, what sort of things have you talked about? Is it philosophy? Is it x’s and o’s?
“Most of the time when we’re here, it’s the group. We have the whole group in there. And then just whenever he got the job, just called and we chatted a little bit then. But I wasn’t here, I was back in the Midwest. But most of the time when we speak, it’s as a group.”

RE: How does this offense compare to last year’s?
“Yeah, there’s going to be some carryover, which is nice. Some things are new. But things are going to be more defined for us. It’s not going to be some of the stuff we had to deal with last year. Things are going to be well-defined for us. We’re going to know our job and be able to go out and execute our jobs and play fast.”

RE: How difficult is it for any quarterback to keep changing when the offensive coordinators continually change? I mean, some of these guys have been here longer than you.
“It is. It’s not ideal. But there is some carryover from Jimmy or from previous coordinator’s to Jimmy so that will be nice. Every coordinator is different and they have their own nuances and all of that, but there are definitely things in his offense that we have run before. It’s just the naming of it that we have to get down.”

RE: If you could project over the course of the game, if this offense is playing well according to what Coach Raye wants, what will this offense look like? What will this offense look like when it’s performing well?
“Fast. Hitting on all cylinders. Scoring touchdowns, first downs, moving the chains and just in and out up to the ball fast. You’ll definitely see a definite rhythm with our offense. From what they’re expecting from us and everything like that, the things they’re preaching and that goes back to Coach Singletary and the things he wants to see. But I think you guys will definitely see it. When we’re moving the chains, we’re playing fast.”

RE: Did you audible at all in a game last season?
“Not that I can remember. I don’t recall ever.”

RE: Do you consider that one of your strengths? Being able to make that happen?
“It is nice to have some freedom and flexibility out there, but it’s not just winging it out there either. It comes from studying all week and it comes the coaches game plan and what he tells you he wants in those situations, so it’s not something where I’ll just be out there doing my own thing, type of thing, it’s sent down from Jimmy Raye, so we have to get on the same page of what he’s looking at.”

RE: Is there an element of your game that you’d like to upgrade from…?
“All of it.”

RE: There’s not one in particular?
“Well, there’s a few, but I don’t want to give away all my…”

RE: Just give away one.
“I just want to, everyday that I come out here, I just want to improve everyday and most importantly I want to be consistent. If I have a good day one day, one day I can’t fall off and have a bad day the next. It’s got to be a consistent thing throughout this whole offseason.”

RE: From what you understand, what percentage of run and pass will you have?
“Oh, man I have no idea. I think every game is going to be different so yeah, so I have no idea.”

RE: How would you evaluate your season, especially as a starter last year? As you look back isn’t it obvious the more times that you get out there, the comfort factor and everything just works so much for you?
“Yeah, no question, the more you are out there, the more comfortable you get. As I evaluate it, I don’t know, it’s just the way I am. I’m really ticked off about the three losses, when we could have gotten wins in all of those games, a few different things here and there. That’s just the way I look at things, but in my assessment of last year it’s the disappointment in the three losses that we had.”

RE: But you had a sense that you were in charge, there was a feeling…
“Yeah, I think anytime a quarterback steps in there, if he doesn’t feel like he’s in charge, then he better get out. That’s just part of the position. You have to be in charge.”

RE: With the ability to audible with maybe some more mixture in terms of the drops, does that play into your game and could you be a much better quarterback than you were last year because of some of those changes, possibly?
“I see what question you are asking, but I’m going to go ahead and answer the real question you are asking here. I feel more comfortable in Jimmy Raye’s system than I did in Mike Martz’s system. That’s what you are asking.”

After the jump, check out Alex Smith's thoughts on camp.

ALEX SMITH
RE: What’s your attitude this season? What’s ahead of you?

“A lot has changed. There’s a lot of new stuff to be excited about. I think there’s a different atmosphere obviously with this early mini-camp and the new offense, it’s a chance to really dive right in. Instead of waiting until after the draft until summertime, it’s time for us to jump right in, so to speak. So that’s definitely new as well. So it’s exciting. It’s fun to kind of just come back and hit the ground running.”

RE: Shaun [Hill] just said that he feels his skills are better suited for this offense as opposed to Mike Martz’s. Is that the same for you?
“It’s hard to say. I only got to go through the offseason and training camp with Coach Martz and I don’t really feel I was in it long enough to really answer that. As early as it is with Coach Raye, we’ll see. There are some similarities with some of the systems I’ve run in the past and there’s a lot of differences. So I’m going to try and make those adjustments and start from here today and get better with this.”

RE: You’ve spoken favorably about Norv Turner’s offense. You’ve said you felt comfortable in that one. Is this one going to be the closest you’ve had to that?
“At this point, all I can really base that on is some of the terminology that’s the same. Until we go out there and practice and get into the full depth of the playbook. Right now it’s just too early to tell. I would say terminology-wise, as far as the language we’re using, there are a lot of similarities there.”

RE: Similarities to Norv Turner?
“Yeah.”

RE: You mentioned that if you had not been the very first pick in the draft things might have been different because people might have looked at you and expected maybe a little bit less. As you come back, is that like a different life now and this is a new one where all of a sudden you don’t have to prove yourself as much?
“It’s definitely in the past, and not something I think about to tell you the truth – draft picks anymore and the draft. My focus now coming off back to back injuries in the last two years is really getting healthy. Getting healthy and being out on the field, and being accountable to my teammates and this team. I really felt like last year and the year before with the injuries it’s been so difficult to sit on the sideline and watch and be in the training room trying to get healthy. After two years of that, I’m tired of it. I’m ready to be…you are part of the team but you aren’t really. You don’t travel on the road, you aren’t really there. You don’t have that accountability to your teammates and I want to get that back. I feel like it’s something I’ve really missed and don’t want to feel again. So that’s my goal right now: to get healthy, come out here and compete and really try to become the player I know I can be. I’m not thinking draft picks or any of that stuff right now.”

RE: The cynics have said that people who play in the sort of offense you did, those wide-open offenses, have had trouble in the NFL making it as a quarterback because you’re never under the center. Is there any justification?
“I don’t think so. I don’t put any justification in any of those overwhelming stereotypes. You can find examples of both. You can find examples of guys who have played in spread offenses and have struggled in the NFL and you can find examples of guys who’ve had a lot of success in the NFL. It’s just the same as a lot of the arguments: guys that do play early and guys that don’t. So I think it’s hard to have a catchall for that. It’s definitely on an individual basis. It’s about the guy that’s back there, the situation he’s in and what he makes of it.”

RE: About a week before you redid your deal, Kurt Warner came through here. You might have heard about it. How much did what happened there impact you getting your deal done? Did it have any impact? Did you follow that whatsoever?
“It had no impact, I can say honestly. I was on my honeymoon when some of that stuff happened so I didn’t even know quite what was going on. I can really say I was just focused on my decision and what I was doing and where I wanted to be. I wasn’t concerned with what anyone else was doing. Because when it comes down to it, I’m the one that’s going to have to make it work. I wasn’t worrying about what Kurt Warner was doing or anyone else.”

RE: So do you think had Kurt Warner ended up here, you’d still be here?
“I don’t know. It’s not something I was thinking about at the time, though. When I was redoing the deal it wasn’t…whether Kurt Warner tripped here and visited, that wasn’t something that was my concern.”

RE: Was there a Plan B for you? Did you have another direction to look in if possible?
“Well, the unknown. If that answers your question. It’s a weird situation. I wasn’t a free agent so it’s not like I was out there getting shopped around. So, no. I made the decision that I wanted to be here and that was it. The rest of that is past now. So, no, to answer your question.”

RE: Are you limited at all right now or do you feel good?
“Yeah, I feel good. I think that the last little thing as far as the shoulder, if that’s what you’re asking about, would be building back up the endurance strength of it all. You get on a throwing program and a rehab program and you come out here and throw and you obviously try to build up your endurance and get to the point where, ‘Yeah, I can throw a lot of days back to back to back.’ Kind of like I used to be: I felt like I could throw for days and not get tired. Kind of build that back up and that’s something I feel like I still have left in front of me.”

RE: Throughout the injuries and the coaching changes and what you’ve gone through, what have you learned about yourself?
“It puts things in perspective. You stop worrying about the other stuff, about the stuff you can’t control. Early on, when you’re a young player in the league it’s easy to be distracted and worry about things that are outside of your realm and your control. And I think it really helped me focus in on what I need to be focused on and things that I can really make a difference in and things that I can effect.”

RE: When you were contemplating coming back, what were your instructions to your agent in terms of, ‘I need these one or two things’? Was there anything like that?
“No, it was more just, ‘Make it happen.’ No. Nothing.”

RE: You didn’t care about certain numbers or restrictions? Incentive clauses?
“No, not at all. Not at all. That’s what he does. I’m here to play football. I don’t…I’m not into the negotiating and clauses and contracts. That’s his job. So I told him what I wanted and it’s his job to make it happen.”

RE: Did you want a promise that you would have a chance to compete at starting quarterback?
“I wanted an opportunity. I didn’t know if I’d get it but that’s something that was in my mind. Fortunately enough, I’ve been given that opportunity and I’m thankful for it. It’s my turn to take advantage.”

RE: It seems easy to apply and say I want the number one job. What are the meters and the things you can improve to make them make that decision?
“It’s playing football. It’s going out there and playing good football. Playing smart, being sound with the football, making plays, playing the position. That’s what I need to focus on right now and all that that entails for a quarterback, because that is a lot. But I’m not worried. I’m not looking into my statistics or anything like that. It’s going out there and playing the game and executing the offense.”

RE: The team has shown a lot of confidence in you bringing you back. What has it done for your confidence and did Mike Singletary have any conversations with you?
“Yeah, I spoke with Coach Singletary quite a bit actually since the season ended and moving forward. Obviously it felt great that it was a mutual feeling: that I wanted to stay and they wanted me back. So that was great in that sense, absolutely, to be somewhere where they want you is a good feeling.”

RE: It seems like you’ve put on some weight?
“I’m trying. Yeah, it’s coming. I have made some gains and I’m continuing to keep that going. It’s just a goal of mine that I think can help me.”

RE: What are you up to?
“I was 221 when we weighed in.”

RE: Does that come from marriage?
“I got that a lot in the locker room. A lot of guys asking if that comes with marriage.”

RE: Why is it valuable to be heavier?

“I think there’s…for every guy it’s different what you’re looking for. For me, at this position you take a lot of hits and I think sometimes that weight can help you endure those hits, especially in a long season. It can help you stay healthy. It’s just a small piece of it but I definitely think it helps.”

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