49ers QB Alex Smith spoke with the media yesterday and took some time to address the impending return of Braylon Edwards to the lineup. Head coach Jim Harbaugh raised some question marks about Edwards' availability this weekend, but we know that at some point, he will be back on the field.
For the sake of argument, say he does return to action this weekend against his former team. Edwards has been running routes and trying to get back in game-shape, while also working to re-develop chemistry with his quarterback. How do you see it playing out when they get back on the field this week (or in future weeks as the case may be). The 49ers have an offense that does not necessarily rely on one specific receiver at this point. That provides some upside in that they could realistically take their time working Edwards back into the mix.
If Edwards is a go this weekend against Cleveland, do you expect strong performances right away, or do you think it might take some time to get back on track? He can help stretch the field, but the connection between Smith and Edwards remains a bit of a question mark.
QB Alex Smith
Press Conference - October 26, 2011
San Francisco 49ers
Alex, getting [WR] Braylon [Edwards] back at practice, do you think you guys can pretty much pick up where you left off with him in week 2?
"You hope to. It'll be a little adjustment. He's out for a few weeks coming back. So, getting back into the mix, who knows though, we'll see."
What's the big adjustment in getting a guy back after he's been gone for a month or so?
"There's a lot of things that play into it. How he's feeling, how healthy he's feeling, and how long he's been out. Things like that all play into it."
Alex, [Head] Coach [Jim Harbaugh] was saying that you were here a couple of times during the bye week practicing and just working on your throws, what were you working on, and what are you focusing on?
"You're constantly working on fundamentals; at least I am. You're constantly trying to get better. There's always something you can get better at, no question. Coming out here and trying to improve on a lot of those things. Also, there's a fine line there on how much time you take off, and how much time you do and don't. So, I didn't want to go that whole time without throwing. So, I got in here and threw a few times."
Did you have a target? Did you have a receiver that worked out with you?
"Braylon was out here running around a little bit. But, mostly just grabbed one of the guys and spot threw."
Coach Harbaugh just told us he's not as optimistic of getting some of these guys back like [C/G Adam] Snyder and Braylon now, do you have any feelings?
"I've got nothing. No. Not getting into the injuries. I have no idea. You hope to get them back, but, who knows. It's up to our medical staff and how those guys come along."
Does Braylon look good to you?
"It's hard to tell. We had very limited reps yesterday, and just had the walkthrough this morning. So, I wouldn't be able to say at this point."
Alex, in your years here with all the struggles and the ups and downs, is this the best bye week you've had? I mean, could you be more relaxed and feeling confident in yourself?
"It's a hard question. I guess it'd be tough for me to even recall past bye weeks. It was good. But, at the same time, it's still early. With ten games left, so much can happen. It's just too early to get comfortable and relax, or anything. And I don't think anyone on this team, certainly not me, is feeling like that. At the same time though, no question, yeah, we got off to a good start, but there's still that pressure, that anxiety to keep this thing going. And I think all these guys feel it, and I think it's a good thing. You certainly don't want anyone feeling good, or complacent or anything."
One thing that's really changed Alex, how's the dynamic changed that you're playing a game this week that probably people expect you to win now, that hasn't happened that many times in the last few years.
"Yeah, every week presents different challenges and this is no different. This is a good football team that's coming in here. Overall defense, they're a top-four defense. And any way you look at it, playing really good football. Record might not show it, but I don't think there's any week offs in the NFL. They're all tough games. So, no question, coming off the bye week, I think you look at teams coming off the bye week, the record isn't great this year. So, things from a record standpoint it can seem like an easy week or something like that, to some casual fans. But, I just don't think it is that way."
What point did you become aware that teams coming off bye week were 3-9?
"The last couple of weeks you've just seen reports of it of how bad they were. And then this week I really kind of became aware of it."
What about that Cleveland defense sticks out to you?
"They're tough. They're tough all over the board. They compete. They're physical. They know what they're doing. They play fast. They don't necessarily throw a ton at you scheme-wise, but what they do, they do really well. And they're playing fast. They're playing at a really high level. You turn on the tape and it's very apparent."
As far as accuracy it seems like when you miss, you tend to miss high, is there a common thread to those passes that are over the receivers' heads?
"I don't know. No, I don't think so. I think this last game a couple instances got rushed, got sped up. The ball was coming out hot, coming out high a little bit. I think it was that day. I don't think there's anything playing into that."
Alex, as far as [TE] Delanie Walker, obviously you've been playing with him for a while, he seems to be extremely versatile this year, maybe more so than in the past, how does he help the offense?
"Delanie does so much for us. He's always been that type of player in my mind. He's always been capable of doing what he's doing. I think it's just now that really putting him in those situations, taking advantage of him as a player, not just physically, but mentally. You have to mentally be on it to be able to do all those things at that level. And obviously he's physically gifted. But, I think the real thing that makes him special is how committed he is, how much time he puts into the playbook and preparation each week because to mentally handle everything he does is special."
Alex, you guys play three of the next four at home, it seems like you guys have been away so much for the last month, when you're here on the bye week and you're about town, are you getting recognized more on the streets? What are fans saying to you about the hot streak?
"It's always hit or miss depending on where you go. But, yeah fans have been great, a lot of support anytime I'm about town. So, it's been great."