The 49ers opened up practice to the media today, making players and Coach Harbaugh available for some Q&A sessions. We'll likely have some full transcripts, but for now, I thought I'd pull out a couple pertinent quotations. Eric Branch posted a few of them on Twitter through his Sulia.com page, so big thanks for those of us not down there.
Alex Smith on Michael Crabtree
He's healthy and I think he's excited about that. I think he's feeling really good. You come out and watch and he's running better than he ever has since I've seen him. Running really well out here, making plays. It's exciting to see. I know a lot of the new faces get a lot of attention, but he's done really well out here.
I continue to knock on wood as I say this, but Michael Crabtree appears to be as healthy as he has ever been in his time with the 49ers. People may continue to knock him for now, but if he can stay healthy this offseason, I suspect we could see big things from him in 2012.
Although he has not yet reached the potential many expected of him on draft day, he has shown improvement. A full offseason could allow for that big jump in his coming fourth season. Given the injection of talent amongst the receivers and running backs, his numbers might not jump tremendously, but that doesn't mean he won't have been a significant key to the offense. Or maybe he does just completely blow up this season. I'm excited to see what a full, healthy offseason can do for him (KNOCK ON WOOD).
Alex Smith on big passing totals
This is the honest truth, I could absolutely care less on yards per game. I think that is a totally overblown stat because if you're losing games in the second half, guess what, you're like the Carolina Panthers and you're going no-huddle the entire second half and, yeah, Cam Newton threw for a lot of 300-yard games. That's great. You're not winning, though.
There is obviously a lot of context to this comment that needs to be factored in. After all, it's not Cam Newton's fault the Panthers defense was fairly abysmal. At the same time, he did benefit at times from chucking the ball a lot. I won't begin to compare Cam Newton in 2011 with Alex Smith in 2011 because they were in vastly different situations.
At the same time, I'm always amused when we get fired up Alex Smith comments. While we'll see him get loud and yelling on the sideline and on the field, when he meets with the media, he's pretty hum-drum. But every once in a while he'll let off a notable comment, and this is one such time. It could quickly be forgotten, but when you mention one of the league's high profile players, I think media and others will stand up and take notice. It may amount to nothing, but it adds some entertainment to an otherwise dull offseason.