Beware, this post is too much about me (but hey, I’m fascinating, trust me), but in a roundabout way makes its way to Alex Smith and our beloved Niners.
A few years ago I was doing a job and doing it pretty well, if I do say so myself. It was a complicated job that was 3 parts analytical and one part creative. I was working for a global company so there were a thousand or so people around the world doing the same job for different clientele. Each of those thousand people were doing the job differently. Each of them had their own way of going about it. Someone somewhere decided that the job needed to be codified…turned into a replicable, yet customizable process. I was the North American representative of a global team of 12 people who created “the playbook”, a booklet that broke the job into packets of work that needed to be done, analyses that needed to be undertaken, suggested and mandatory approaches, etc. So anyway, this uniform process kicks off and I am now the guy to train the 100 or so people in North America in that job function. And what I found was that in teaching others, I learned a lot more than I would have if I had been taught to…that to teach something you have to get inside it, heart and soul, otherwise you look like a moron. I also found that there are a thousand little things to figure out when you’re unsure, and you have to work with those you are teaching to figure it out together. I also found, when all was said and done, that I did the job a hell of a lot better after that.
So now to Alex Smith and the Niners. Harbaugh gets a one day break in the lockout and hands Alex Smith the playbook. I’m sure they spent the day going through it. But then it was on Alex Smith to teach everyone else at “Camp Alex” at San Jose State. By league rules Alex couldn’t turn to Harbaugh for clarification or edification. What a twisted bit of misfortune turned into fortune! What better way to make sure that Alex really absorbed the playbook than to have him teach it to the rest of the team? What better way to create teamwork than to have the players figure out its intricacies and philosophies amongst themselves?
Like everyone else, I thought that teams with new coaching staffs and new systems would be at a ridiculous disadvantage this year. In retrospect, I believe with all my heart that Camp Alex, with a playbook and the responsibility to teach it, not only made Alex understand the system, but made him a better QB, and helped instill the team spirit that we’re seeing every Sunday.
The lockout was a blessing in disguise.