Alex Smith 2011: Fresh Chance, Last Chance?

After months of waiting, Alex Smith finally returned to practice yesterday with the rest of the signed veteran free agents. Colin Kaepernick has been taking first team snaps for the past week, but the return of Smith means a change at the first team reins.

Smith spoke to the media after practice and the 49ers PR folks sent along the transcript late last night. Head after the jump to read it over and view CSN's video of the press conference.

As would be expected, Smith views the new coaching staff and system as a fresh start for him. 49ers fans have been waiting and hoping for the young QB to develop into the man that was drafted number one overall six years ago. I've been a supporter from day one and am definitely a more optimistic Smith supporter than many. However, my optimism is a little bit different with the new offense in place.

Alex Smith does not have to be spectacular to make this offense go. That's not to say I don't expect strong numbers from him, but we've reached a point where he now has so many weapons at his disposal, THEY can make HIM look good. We've been waiting for Alex to become this franchise quarterback, but this year maybe the total team approach will help generate the success we have been waiting for since 2002.

Of course, with all the changes this could all blow up in our face, in which case Alex will more than likely be sent packing after this season. I can't say with any level of certainty what I expect from the offense this season. Part of that comes from my inherent wariness about having my dreams crushed once again. And part of it is the inherent question marks that come with any changes. The team has as many weapons as they can probably expect in a given offseason. The question now is whether they can properly fire them. Only time will tell.

QB Alex Smith
Press Conference - August 4, 2011
San Francisco 49ers 

Listen to Audio I Media Center

On what it feels like to be back with [WR] Braylon Edwards again:

"Yeah, as far as the same draft class. I got to spend a few days with him together coming out of the draft and got to get to know him. It was pretty crazy in the middle of practice to see him run out and jump in there. It was just another addition to a strange year. It was great to see him. He's a great player and the more you can add to this team, the better. I think he'll help us."

On whether Edwards' size will be beneficial:

"Yeah, I saw him standing next to Vernon and they're pretty much the same size. That is, I think something that will help us outside. A big bodied target and someone that can do some different things for us. I think the more you can do, the more you can throw at a defense, the more problems they have to address, the better." 

On whether he feels he has some rust to shake off:

"Yeah, I'd like to say no, but of course. I mean it's been seven or eight months since I've practiced with 22 guys on the field. But it was great. It's been too long. I missed it, getting out there, bodies flying around, getting in the mix, shaking it up. It was great to be out there."

On whether it felt like a fresh start for him:

"For sure, absolutely, no question. I want to come out, a new offense, new coaching staff, new day, absolutely. I was pretty anxious, pretty jacked up. It didn't help having to watch for basically a week, you can sign but you can't do anything, and then you're just sitting here watching, chomping at the bit. So it's great to finally get out there, we had a lot of fun. Obviously, we've got a long road ahead of us, but it felt like we took a step today and we'll look at film and try to take another one tomorrow." 

On whether he took breaks during training camp to go throw at San Jose State College:

"I did, yeah. I threw over there, just to try to stay into it. I didn't want to take a week off of throwing and then jump into the middle of camp. You try to simulate it, but basically I'm just spot throwing, just putting guys in positions and trying to go through my reads and stuff. Try to stay as fresh as I can." 

On who his receivers were while practicing at San Jose State:

"Whoever I could get. Anybody that wasn't practicing, I was grabbing to come catch." 

On whether he feels like he is now getting support from the 49ers organization:

"I felt like I've had support in the past. I've always felt supported here. Obviously, new coaching staff, new way of doing things and we're jumping in, we're all aboard, we're all in, pushing all the chips in. I know I am and everyone else in that locker room. I really just focused on the now and today's practice and what's ahead of us." 

On whether he is surprised that no veteran quarterbacks have been brought in and whether he considers himself in competition for the starting quarterback position:

"I guess to answer the first part of that; from day one they've been upfront that they're going to bring in the best quarterbacks to camp that they can. That's the deal. And obviously I think that's an obvious answer. Why wouldn't you? You want to get the best people here. No question, this is absolutely wide open. It's a new coaching staff, they're evaluating all of us, yeah they've watched some film of us, but they've never watched us live in person. This is their first chance so, no question." 

On his take on [QB] Colin Kaepernick this past week:

"I think Colin's done a great job, an unbelievable job. It's a tough situation getting drafted into a lockout year. He's worked so hard, he's just come in, he's absorbed everything and just continues to work. He seems unfazed by a lot of the little things, which I think is a great quality for a quarterback. He just continues to work and I think obviously he's got tremendous talent and I think it's only going to go so far and he does have the work ethic to take it to the next level and I like what I see." 

On who the first guy he called for ‘Camp Alex' was and when the idea came about:

"I couldn't tell you, I had been thinking about it for quite awhile before I did it. I was trying to plan out and make the most of it and I couldn't tell you who I called first. I basically started calling everybody and texting everybody that I could, trying to arrange it; everyone on offense that is. So couldn't tell you, it was something that I was thinking about for quite awhile like I said, coming up to the draft and after the draft. I just wanted to make sure that if we did something, we were actually going to get something out of it. I didn't want us to be going out there just to go out there and a PR stunt. I really wanted it to be beneficial, so that's kind of why I waited so long. I wanted to have somewhat of a grasp on the ABCs of the offense and then could really give that to the fellows." 

On how he would rate his understanding of the playbook in June to his understanding now of it:

"I would call it the ABCs of the offense, kind of the fundamentals, the first step, your first imitation to the offense, your first exposure to it. That's basically what we were trying to get out of the way so when we were out here getting coached and you heard a call, you didn't have to sit there thinking what does that mean, at least there would be some kind of familiarity there and you could really focus on the details of what you're getting coached to do." 

On what kind of things he coached:

"Basically that, language, how we're going to call things, how we do things, huddle, procedure, everything. From that sense, the terminology, the language, the ABCs of what we were doing, I wasn't getting too in depth on specific details of route running and things like that because I don't know them." 

On whether he felt that ‘Camp Alex' was a huge leap of faith:

"I just felt like it was the right thing to do. I felt like I needed to do it at that point. I didn't see it happening. I knew as this lockout continued to go on and on that we were kind of behind the eight-ball and I really needed to get something done. It just felt like something I needed to do."

On whether it felt weird to wear a knee brace when he was not hurt:

"A little bit. I had worn a knee brace on my right leg my rookie year for like five weeks, but yeah, a little different. Once you get out there and get in it you kind of forget about it." 

On whether he had ever worn a knee brace on that knee before:

"No." 

On whether he feels his relationship with Kaepernick will change moving forward as opposed to when they were working out during the lockout:

"Absolutely not and I would explain it like this: there were things, if I was ever giving him advice or trying to tell him something, it was something I was completely comfortable about. There were several things when he was asking me questions and I said we would just have to wait on that. So that's it. Other things, like things in general as far as being in the NFL or as quarterback or something, but obviously I'm going to offer that up if I see it or if he asks."

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