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Will Watching/Playing Behind Troy Smith Make Alex Smith a Better QB?

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Fooch's Note: The 49ers just released Alex's transcript. I've posted it after the jump in its entirety.

So the latest out of 49er-land is some quotes from Alex and Troy Smith (not brothers despite how I make it sound) regarding the change at the quarterback position from the shorter Smith to the taller one.  Matt Maiocco posted some of the quotes from today's interviews, quoting Alex as saying:

I can make plays with my feet when I have to. I can handle anything out there, adjustments you have to make and different things, protection adjustments, I think I can. Have I done that consistently? To be honest with you, no. That's what I need to do.

The other notable tidbit from what Alex said was that he saw something in Troy's game that he needed to emulate himself in order to be a more complete QB for this team.  He noted how he's more of a game-manager, taking completions wherever they are - check-downs, throwaways, etc. - in order to sustain drives.  Troy Smith obviously favors the big play and has often held on to the ball waiting for deep routes to develop rather than scrambling, throwing it away or checking down. This got me thinking: Will having watched Troy play in his place make Alex a better quarterback?

We heard all of this before when Alex said that he needed to take more risks and not be quite as cautious.  So what's different this time?  Well, to me, it's the fact that not only does Alex realize he needs to play with more aggression, but he's now seen someone do it and have some success (see: St. Louis game @ Candlestick). 

He's also seen the guy who took his job (and held on to it) play this way while he sat idle on the bench.  Alex likely knows this is his last chance to prove to the 49ers (and possibly future employers) that he can perform at a high level for more than a game, or a portion therein.

Will the fear of losing his job again or worse, dooming his future in the NFL as a potential starting QB force Alex to take his words to heart this time?  Or will it be more of the same jumpy, happy-feet Alex who panics under pressure rather than seeking to make his own destiny?

QB Alex Smith
December 8, 2010
San Francisco 49ers 

Listen to Audio I Media Center

On what he has been doing in the last few weeks:

"Yeah, it's been a little bit since I've been up here. Been playing football, a little bit different role, and obviously my role changed again this week. So, getting ready to play, go execute, go win a game."

On whether he prepared himself to start and whether he was surprised when he found out he was starting:

"You know, when I found out, I didn't know what it - I mean, obviously these aren't our decisions as players. And if you dwell on them and you look too much into them, I think it can be a bad thing. So yeah, I mean, I prepared myself to play, I knew it potentially could happen, it could come back to me, and I was just getting ready to play. I was determined that I wasn't going to let an opportunity pass me by if I got one. But yeah, I didn't know what to expect, to tell you the truth, coming in this week after the Green Bay game, didn't know what to expect. I didn't have any expectations I guess."

On what it's like being healthy but not being able to play:

"You know, different. Obviously different, difficult. Getting hurt, and [QB] Troy [Smith] came in and played well, and won some games for us. And he did a good job. So continued to go with him, and you know, like I said, as players, those are decisions that aren't ours. And I was given a new role, and then I was going to take that seriously, and obviously now I'm back, back in the saddle."

On what he means by it being difficult:

"Well just it's a different role, so anytime you - it's an adjustment."

On it also being a come-down:

"Oh yeah, yeah, I guess that's what I'm saying. It's difficult, you know, different. I mean, when it happens in the middle of the season, to tell you the truth, like I said, you don't have time to - you shouldn't have the time to really be diving into all that stuff. You put the feelings aside, you put all that stuff aside. That stuff can wait until after the season, in my opinion."

On Coach Singletary's comments that he gives them the best chance to win this week and whether he asked him to explain why he didn't give them the best chance to win last week:

"Well, I didn't get into all the stuff the previous weeks, but it was definitely my first question, you know, yeah, what's changed? Exactly. It was definitely something that was on my mind. Yeah and he made it very clear, just like you said, that was his thinking, that going into this game, I gave us the best opportunity. You know, his decision. I'm going to go get ready to play. We're all going to go play."

On whether he feels that anything has changed with him in the past five weeks: 

"I'm healthier, my shoulder feels good. Yeah, I definitely took things from it. You know, I'll say it again, I took it seriously. Anytime you have a chance to watch another QB prepare and play, I try to take advantage of it. I mean even having Troy come in and see what he's doing, and good and bad, those are things I try to take away from it."

On whether he reflected on when he was promoted last year over former 49ers QB Shaun Hill:

"Oh no question, absolutely, yeah. Absolutely, very much so, I've thought about that. I actually, even talking to Shaun, thought it was a pretty similar situation, you know, in my mind, obviously the injury aside, but some similarities there."

On comparing himself with Troy Smith:

"Well I guess I kind of thought looking at our type of, I guess, the offense when I was in there and the offense when he was in there, I kind of thought different ends of the spectrum, no question, in that area. Much more controlled passing game when I was in there, taking completions, trying to do the long drives. With him, definitely much more shot-taking, throwing the ball downfield, play-action pass, something, yeah, I talked to Mike [offensive coordinator Mike Johnson] about that. I think, not just with him and I, but the offense needs both. I think it's something that when both of us were out there kind of liked the other thing."   

On whether it is more difficult in today's league to have long, sustained drives:

"I mean, yeah, the percentages say yeah no question, it's harder to do, to march the field all the time, but I mean sometimes you have to do that. I think in order to keep defenses honest and keep them off you if you are more controlled passing, you've got to be able to take shots and get them off you."

On whether Johnson agreed to open things up:

"I think he kind of saw the same things that I saw. Obviously, Mike taking this over in the middle of the season is difficult, and I think he's learned and grown as he's come along, and no question, I think he's seeing the same thing, realized the effects it can have when you do take shots on defenses."

On whether he thought about his future and whether he would have a chance to stay with the 49ers after this season during the period that he wasn't starting:

"Yeah, I didn't know. I mean, no question, that was out there, absolutely that's an option. Like I said, I was determined, I mean this might sound cliché, I was determined that if I got an opportunity, I was going to be ready. And I knew there were - as each week counted down, six more weeks, five more weeks, whatever it was, that if I got my number called, I was going to be ready to go, you know. So that was basically my take on it every week."

On whether this is his last opportunity:

"I'm not thinking about that honestly, I'm thinking about beating Seattle. We're in a playoff mentality, this is a must-win game. You know, and I'm getting the call, and that's all I'm thinking about."

On how important it is to get this opportunity because he is a free agent:

"Yeah, I mean those are things that are out there, no question, those are things you continually try to push to the back of your mind. I'm getting ready to play. There's still an opportunity in front of us and an opportunity to go win a game."

On what he remembers about the first opportunity against Seattle in week one:

"Yeah, a missed the opportunity, in my mind. You know, missed a lot, left a lot out there, didn't execute. So I think kind of a bad taste in all of our mouths from that game, especially when you turn on the film and watch it."                

On whether he is worried about being rusty in terms of timing with his receivers after being out:

"Not worried about it at this point. It's an old point, you know, whatever, it doesn't matter. I'm going to be out there. I got a lot of reps in camp. I got a lot of reps obviously in the first six weeks of the season, so I'll be ready to go."

On his comfort level with Seattle now after seeing them on film from the first game of the season:

"Yeah, it's hard. With a new coaching staff coming in, first game of the season, not a lot to take from it. They didn't show a lot in preseason, we knew that. There was a lot of unknown going into that game. Obviously now we've had a lot of game film to look at, so definitely more familiar."

On how familiar he is with the Seahawks:

"Getting more familiar. Obviously, it's Wednesday. I watched a lot of film the last couple days and going to continue to watch more film until Sunday, so."

On when head coach Mike Singletary talked to him about the quarterback change:

"Monday was the first that it was, you know, getting talked about."

On whether he considers himself a good quarterback and why:

"Absolutely, no question. I believe I have the ability to make all the throws on the field; athletic enough that I can make plays with my feet when I have to. I can handle any playbook out there, adjustments you have to make, calls, different things, protections, adjustments; I think I can. Have I done that consistently? I'll be honest with you, no. You know, and I think that's what I need to do."

On whether he considers the upcoming Seahawks game on Sunday the most important game of his career:

"They're all important. You know, right now, I mean, all the ones behind me don't mean anything. You know, this is the one in front of me, so, yeah."