Alex Smith and the upcoming preseason games

Fooch's Note: For those expecting Ninjames' Nedney confidence poll at 11, I've moved it back to noon in light of this post.

Alex Smith spoke to the media after practice yesterday, and the primary focus of the media session was on his ability to "see the whole field" and how it had improved in Year 2 of the Jimmy Raye offense. Obviously this is an important issue and could make or break this 49ers season.

As we approach the first general preseason game of the NFL season tonight, the 49ers are a mere 6 days away from kicking off their preseason. Since Smith is entrenched as the starting QB, the general pattern would like see him build up his playing time to a peak in the third game, before cutting back his time in the final game. So maybe a couple of series to a full quarter in game one, upwards of a full half in game two, into the third quarter in game three, and then back to a couple of series in game four.

Given the amount of playing time Smith is likely to see, what exactly should we expect from him in these games. It'd be nice to see him hitting receivers in stride all day long and making all his reads as needed. Of course, the odds of a perfect performance are slim for any QB in the preseason, particularly in the first couple of games. I'd say if he can show some chemistry with the team and guide some touchdown drives, the team would be in good shape. The key is actual TD drives, as opposed to driving down, stalling, and settling for 3 points. Some consistent TD drives would be a good first step.

So, what do you think we should expect? And furthermore, most notably for the crowd that's not as high on Smith, what kind of preseason performance would give you some kind of confidence in Smith heading into the season?

I've posted the rest of Smith's transcript after the jump.

QB Alex Smith
Post-Morning Practice - August 7, 2010
San Francisco 49ers

On his chat with Governor Schwarzenegger yesterday:

"It was interesting and unexpected. It was kind of a last minute type deal. I was walking out here and he was walking in and somehow I was his designated tour guide. It was fun though, interesting. I took him into the locker room and the weight room, talked to him a little bit."

On whether he pumped any iron on the tour:

"He didn't. That's what we talked about mostly though. We got in there and it was familiar territory for him. He wanted to know kind of the things we did in the weight room, our training and how that works."

On whether he talked much football:

"A little bit. It was mostly that and how the weight room correlated to the football field. Obviously it's a little different than body building and anything like that."

On whether he sees the whole field now:

"I feel like I'm seeing things really well right now. There's not much, when I turn on the film, that I don't already know what happened. I feel like I'm seeing everything, I know what happened. You're never truly going to see everything, but I really feel I'm seeing enough of the puzzle that I know what's going on." 

On how long he has been at this level:

"I really feel like this offseason was a big step. We had a great offseason and got a lot of good work on the perimeter just in shorts and it really carried into this. I worked hard when we had the six weeks off. I stayed here most of the time and threw. I wanted to really keep that going into camp and I think we've done that."

On whether that means on the field he can react more quickly:

"Absolutely. The ball is coming out, you're seeing things clear. Obviously, I'm far surer where I'm going with the ball. I feel good where I'm going, my decision making and I think the biggest thing is the ball comes out. I think if you watched out there, at least me, I feel like if you were to take me last year versus this year, I'm much different as far as when the ball's coming out."

On if he sees himself as a game manager:

"No. You look at any great quarterback and I think any great offense and this whole game manager thing, it's not the quarterbacks. The quarterbacks that are in the Super Bowl, the quarterbacks that are in the Pro Bowl are not the quarterbacks that are doing the extraordinary things. They are the quarterbacks that are doing the ordinary things extraordinarily well. That sounds cliché, but they're the ones going out there and they can throw dig routes and they can throw comebacks and they can throw out routes all day. You don't see [QB] Drew Brees going out there and making crazy [QB] Michael Vick plays, but you know he's going to go out there and hit his targets and same with [QB] Peyton Manning. It's not always going to look great but they're going to go out there and they're going to do the ordinary things really, really well. And they're going to be very consistent with that. That's the role I take. I don't take it as a game manager or anything like that, but we're going to go out there and we're going to be consistently good and we're going to do all of the things, the detailed things, really well. That's how you take it to the next level in my opinion."

On whether he is saying the term game manager is not relevant to one player or another:

"No absolutely not. I think it's going out there and making good decisions, throwing the ball accurately. I don't think it's going out there trying to do anything crazy, making big plays. It is going out there, seeing what the defense is giving you, making the decision, throwing the ball accurately and getting the ball out of your hands. I think that's what good quarterbacks do. I think doing that, all of the sudden you take it to the next level unconsciously. You just go out there and do your job and all 11 guys do it and you're doing it so fast and so well and you've done it so many times, you're really that good then."

On how much improvement he has seen from G Mike Iupati and T Anthony Davis:

"It's tough. I'm obviously more focused on the perimeter group. Those guys are getting a lot thrown at them. The nice thing is they're getting a bunch of reps right now. I'm sure they're spinning. To go from college, where you're running probably a couple protections and maybe have a couple adjustments, to come to the NFL level and you're getting the whole gambit. You've got to learn a dozen protections. We're going to run a dozen protections a lot and you've got to learn all of the adjustments that come with every single one, all the rules that come with every single one. You can't just know it on a white board. You've got to know it in the half second that it happens on the field. Mike Iupati, all of the sudden that linebacker runs up to the A-gap, you've got to know instantly whatever protection we're in what that means for you. Do you come down and block him or don't you? All of those things that come with that. I know they're getting a lot thrown at them, but it's a good thing."

On whether he feels more comfortable with the rookies in:

"I'm not paying any attention to that part, honestly. I think it's such a great thing on the offensive line to have - I've never been with the same five guys and entire season. It just doesn't happen, that's the reality of this and I think that's a good thing. Obviously, we've been a little banged up and guys have had to step in at different positions they aren't familiar with, but the reality is that's what's going to happen during the season. You get a handful of guys and they've got to be versatile. They've got to be able to jump in and play different positions. You can't really skip a beat."

On whether he is comfortable of having two rookies protecting him:

"I'm not even thinking about that, to be honest with you, at this point. We're going to put the best five guys out there. If it's them two, then it's them two, if it's not then it's not. That's the deal."

On which receivers he worked with in the offseason:

"Everybody was here. We had a great turnout this offseason. There weren't any guys in the perimeter group that weren't here. So, I don't think that's necessarily an issue. Obviously, we're moving around [WR Michael Crabtree] Crab a little more. We're going to do some different things with him so I think getting him more comfortable with that and some of the roles he'll be put in. Really other than that, I don't know of anything."

On whether he feels that special connection with TE Vernon Davis:

"I feel really good about where Vernon's going, where we're going. I think the same thing with him. You look at him and obviously the guy's extremely gifted and can run, but all of the sudden his decision making at this point is so much more sound that he plays even faster. He knows what he's doing. He knows his job that much better, all of the details that go into playing tight end that allows him to play even faster."

On rule changes with the officials in the back field and how that affects him:

"Strange. Well, a little bit. We talked about it quite a bit yesterday. It's going to be a little different because any time the ball gets inadvertently moved or if we have a quick personnel change, you have to let the defense make a personnel change. The umpire has to come in and hold the snap, well then he has to get out of the way and all the way back to the backfield and then I have to get the okay from the referee that we can start our cadence and go. Things like that it will take a little longer. But if you get in a two-minute situation, he'll go back to playing his normal spot in an umpire position. Other than that, I think there will be some little things like that. I think the bigger thing the linemen are concerned about, obviously, the umpire was behind the defensive line and had a great view for some defensive holding calls, now they'll be in the backfield and it may be a little harder to see."

On whether he is worried about the play clock:

"That was the issue I made sure of yesterday talking to them that if it's not our fault the ball gets inadvertently moved, if it's something we didn't do and the umpire has to come in and hold the clock, they're going to reset the play clock. He reassured us of that, but if it's something that we did, if we try to make a personnel change with 10 seconds left on the play clock then come in and they're going to hold it then it's our fault and we're not going to get the snap off. I did clarify with him. That thing in my mind was the play clock issue and whether or not they were going to reset it for us and give us time to get the play off."

On the defense asking the offense to run rub plays:

"Yeah, pick plays. Yeah, so we talked about that yesterday as well. It is legal in the NFL to rub plays. You use the word rub, but if two receivers are running routes and as they, as the refs call it, and his intent looks like he's actually running then they're not going to call anything, but if all of a sudden, a receiver's looking up a DB to block him, then they're going to call - they're going to call a pick. So, we talked about that with them yesterday. Basically, they're going to try to see a receiver's intention. If it looks like a receiver's running a route and you rub, it's completely legal. But if you, if a receiver really looks like he's trying to find a defender to pick him, then they're going to call it." 

On specifics the team needs to be ready for moving on through camp and into the regular season:

"I think the one thing I'm really - consistency and details. You know, we're kind of moving into the point in camp now where guys are tired and your legs are tired and these kind of become dog days a little bit. And I think the difference between good teams and everybody else is the good teams find a way to come out here every single day to take a step and compete every single day, and to get something out of every single day, not just to endure this time. You know, it's easy to come out here and just get through it and ‘Oh, we made it through today.' If that's your mindset then you're going to be behind the ball."

On whether he thinks the best time to improve is when he's tired:

"Well, I think the really good teams find a way to get something out if it, to compete and come out here every single day and take a step, take another step forward, to commit themselves to doing that. I mean, no one always feels - great teams still have the same feeling, they come out here and feel bad and don't want to practice but you have to commit yourself to that, to that mindset and that every single day you're going to push it. You may not feel good and it may not be fun sometimes, but you know you're going to have that commitment level and I think that's the difference. You see teams that come out of camp that really roaring and ready to go and teams that aren't and I think that's the main difference."

On seeing the field:

"I think that a lot of it goes into. Earlier you're also thinking about what we're doing. You're not concerned about the adjustments we're making, the routes we're doing and then you're trying to combine that with, ‘Okay well I'm trying to see parts of the defense of what's going on.' Now, I'm really to the point where I'm more focused on them. I'm coming up and I'm really focused on the defense. I feel comfortable with my decision making process for all the plays and I'm not up there consciously thinking, ‘Okay, if I get cover two I'm going to go here,' whereas, that sometimes happens early on. I've done that before and that's not a good deal. To come up and instinctively just - it's engrained and it really can just focus on the defense. In that sense I get much better vision, I can see things. You see tells the defense gives away. You see two or three guys that really give away what they're going to do. They're all trying to hide it. They all trying to disguise what they're going to do and can you catch those few guys that are giving it away."

On Anthony Davis at right tackle:

"I think he's getting great work. Honestly, right now I'm so focused on the perimeter group it'd be hard for me to even tell you. I don't notice when he's in there, it's not something I'm conscious of at all, so I think its good work for him to get in there and get the reps.

On whether it's a good thing that he doesn't notice Davis:

"Yeah, exactly."

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