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49ers 2010 NFL Season: Alex Smith and his "command" of the offense

SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 22:  Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49er passes against the Minnesota Vikings during an NFL pre-season game at Candlestick Park on August 22 2010 in San Francisco California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 22: Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49er passes against the Minnesota Vikings during an NFL pre-season game at Candlestick Park on August 22 2010 in San Francisco California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
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Alex Smith spoke with the media yesterday and a good chunk of his discussion was about the issue of a malfunctioning headset. It honestly seems to come up more and more frequently with Smith than a lot of QBs. Of course, I suppose part of that could be the fact that I watch Smith on TV a lot more frequently than any other QB.

Whatever the case, Smith deals with headset problems on occasion. As he was discussing this in the transcript after the jump, Smith also spoke about some drills they have that involve him calling his own plays. While we're not looking for a Peyton Manning style of OC/QB in Smith, it'd be nice to have a guy who wouldn't need to call a timeout if the audio in his helmet goes out.

Alex Smith has always been considered incredibly smart, but requiring extra time to really nail down the details of an offense. In looking back to last season, it felt like the offense actually found a nice steady rhythm when they would go with the no-huddle more than a regular huddled-up offense. Would folks agree? Should the team potentially give Smith a bit more slack in running the offense?

I guess in the end, what will make this offense the most effective with Smith at QB?

QB Alex Smith
Post- Morning Practice - August 25, 2010
San Francisco 49ers

On a competitive end to this morning's practice:

"For us here, especially this camp, I thought it was great. But, we've had a bunch of those, probably not quite as intense, bunch of the ‘ownership' periods as we like to call them, where basically the rest of the team is off the field, all the coaches are off the field and it's just us and I get to call the plays against [LB] Pat [Willis] or [S] Dashon [Goldson] and we go, and there is a pretty clear winner and a loser. And we do different scenarios. We do a third down scenario. We do red zone scenarios. We'll do first-and-ten scenarios, different things like that. So, it's a great way to end practice. I think it's a great tool as well, gets us thinking like coaches. It's great to take back into the film room now and then, especially for a quarterback, to talk game scenarios there - end of the game, last play of the game. We basically had two plays there at the end from the three what are we thinking on the first one, different things like that. So, I think it's a great tool. It's something we didn't do last year but Coach Singletary added it this year and I think it's been a big help. You know, obviously, it's added a lot of energy."

On whether the touchdown looked good to you:

"I'll have to see it, certainly it was close. But, certainly that's a great example, that's something, you know, me and [TE] Delanie [Walker] timed that up a little better, it's kind of a compliment little play. We time that up better and I think it would have been an easy score. He was just a little quick. I was thinking something a little different, but we'll get that worked out and I think that's an easy score there."

On whether anything else is at stake:

"Bragging rights, as you can see all the talking. You know defense will admit, we won the first one out there as you saw that, clear score. [WR] Josh Morgan walked in, and then they wanted a second chance and somehow the second chance turned it in to somehow them winning, so double or nothing I guess."

On whether or not having TE Vernon Davis out there a disadvantage for him:

"He scored 13 touchdowns last year. Obviously he's a big threat out there, a guy that big that you can do that much with. He's an opposing force. But, I don't know, we have a competitive group. That's something I certainly wasn't thinking about while I was out there. We have a competitive group, guys all over that can make plays and just because he's not out there doesn't mean we can't move on. We have to get it done."

On whether he has any idea how much he will play versus the Raiders on Saturday:

"No idea. Coach Raye was just out here what did he say? Did he say to ask me? Whatever they want. That's been the great thing both these preseason games that I just kind of expect to go and whenever they pull me, they pull me."

On the importance of seeing a full offense out there on Saturday even if only for a couple snaps:

"It would be nice. You know, obviously, I think every team wants that - to be healthy and have all their guys out there to their full potential. It's still preseason though and you don't want to get too short sided. I think you still want to, I think, play the high side of being safe with those guys, but we'll see. [WR Michael] Crabtree was out there today. It was great to have him back out the last couple days. So, I'm looking forward to taking advantage of those reps with him."

On whether he feels like he needs to work on his timing with Crabtree:

 "Well the thing with Crabtree, there's different - if we were just throwing single cuts as him playing ‘X' receiver out there, I think that's something I feel pretty good about, both he and I. But we're doing more with him this year, moving him around. We're asking a little more of him, so those types of things. We're moving him inside, things like that, so I think that's where we need a little more of the reps, more of the work."

On whether he feels like he needs more work with Vernon Davis:

"I mean, I feel really good with Vernon. You know he and I have got a lot of work done over the last few years and especially last year. So, obviously, I just want to make sure he gets healthy and gets back."

On the strong competition and depth at the wide receiver position:

"No question. There's a lot of depth out there at the receiver spot, a lot of competitive depth. You have guys stepping in making plays when they have to. It's going to be interesting, we've got a good group there."

On the ownership of calling plays during games:

"Yeah, the headset goes out. I mean sure, the Indy game, I called a couple plays when the headset went down. It's usually not in that scenario where there are five plays in a row where I'm calling them or three plays in a row. The first time was three plays the second time was five. That usually wouldn't happen in a game, you know, other than two minute. Two minute, I get the calls when we're on the ball.

On what he does in the two minute drill as far as calling plays:

"In two minute, I get the call when we're on the ball, you know, most of the time. So, if it's continuing play, you get what I'm saying? If we huddle up or it's incomplete or we run out of bounds and we get to re-huddle, then obviously we go back to a 40 second clock and we'll get the headsets back going again."

On whether this happens when the balls in play:

"Yeah, most of the time. It goes in and out, I mean, the headset works but mostly depending on the game, if you're at an away game and its loud and noisy, it can be tough. So, it just depends week to week."

On whether it will help him in those types of scenarios with his increased knowledge of the system:

"Yes, no question. Without a doubt, yes. Things come up in games all the time, headset cuts out, crucial downs, or it cuts out on second down, you're out in the huddle, you've got 21 personnel call play, you've got 12 personnel call play, you know things like that. No question, I think all these exercises, especially for a quarterback, are such a good correlation for me, such a great exercise for me and Jimmy to go back to the film room and talk game plan, to really talk about what he's thinking and what I'm thinking. So, you truly get an extension of him and that's what you really want, an extension of offensive coordinator and the coaches on the field and so that's what we're looking for. So, as much as him and I are thinking alike and on the same page the better."

On whether it helps to be in the meeting room and discussing those scenarios all the time considering he has a different voice in his ear this year:

"Yeah, you know J-Mike [offensive assistant Jason Michaels] did it last year and [quarterbacks coach] Mike Johnson is doing it this year. It's been clean this year. It's been fluid, other than we had a battery malfunction last week that went out on that opening drive, seems like that happens all the time. But yeah, I guess you'd be surprised as much as the headset malfunctions and doesn't work, so I think the exercises like this are great. You don't have to call, hey you have this personnel, you have this down and distance, you're in the red zone, it's third down, it's short, whatever, get in there call a play. What are we thinking, this is our go to. So, those are great exercises. Like I said, I think you'd be surprised how much, for some reason, we have those malfunctions especially on the road. But as far as Coach Johnson calling in the plays, it's been fluid this year."

On whether calling his own plays is something that he would like to do more of:

"It's something, obviously when I was younger in my career, I was very uncomfortable with. It was kind of the mindset of you call it and I'll make it work was my job. I think, like you said, I've really become a big fan of this I think it's great. It really makes me think in a different way, really stretches me and I like that. Like I said, I love the competition. I get to go against Pat or Dashon every day, and rub it in when we beat them."

On whether he called his own plays in high school, college, or any level:

"No, college was all signaled in."

On whether the fact that he is playing the Raiders this weekend is just a big deal for the fans considering they will be playing them in the regular season:

"I think you said it. It's probably much less of a deal because we play them in the regular season. Whoever wins this game, its going to be all for nothing unless you get it done during the regular season. I mean, obviously, you want to go out there and play well, but we all know the big one is coming a few weeks later."

On whether WR Todd Watkins got lost in the shuffle back in high school:

"Yeah, no question. It's kind of funny, he didn't even play as a junior really at all. We were a running team, always had been, always been a running team. And then his senior year, you're talking about a guy with world class speed, and I don't know how many balls he caught, but probably not that many. I didn't throw that many and that was my junior year. But yeah, no question, underused, absolutely, and then he kind of bounced around a little bit - went to JC [junior college], was the JC player of the year, then went up to BYU and was an All-American, so no question, underused."

On whether the headset tends to go out more while on the road:

"Sabotage or something, I swear. I hope we're doing it to the other teams because it happens to us like every other week."

On whether the headset was out for the opening drive on the whole series:

"It was out for most of it, yeah. It was probably out a good chunk of the plays, especially the second half all the way down to the end zone. So, I would say at least those five to six plays, all out."

On whether he was doing hand signals while the headset was out:

"I got the first call yelled to me, then once I knew it wasn't working, I kind of made my way over to the numbers and got the call and ran back out."

On whether the drive is fun when the headset is out:

"It's not that fun when you're running back and forth. No, I'm just joking. It's good conditioning, I mean it's great. It's obviously something you don't want to deal with, running back and forth, but its part of the deal, you got to be ready for it as a quarterback."

On how much do the coaches say when he comes to the sideline:

"It just depends on the coach. You know, there's not a lot of time for encouragement that's for sure. Obviously, you make a big play, you're doing something, you look over as you get the play, you know the coaches have a lot of energy on the sidelines, but most of the time its pretty concise. It's going so fast, you want to get the play in, get it communicated right and that's about it. You know sometimes, depending on the call, you can get little things here and there, little alerts we might have throughout the week for things."

On the 40 second time he has between plays:

"So, when it's inbounds as we're continuing play, it's a 40 second clock, as soon as the ball gets spotted. So I throw a ball inbounds or [RB] Frank [Gore] runs the ball, as soon as they spot it its 40 second clock. Every other time, so start of a drive or a penalty, he'll tell me, the head ref, we'll be huddled up already, he'll give me the alert that they're going to wind it and then he'll start it and that's the 25 second clock. The voice cuts out at 15, headset cuts out at 15. If you're getting in the huddle at 15, you're breaking at 10, you're up to the line at 7 or 6, you know that's, you're still behind. So if you don't have the play, I mean you'd want to be breaking the huddle before 15, you know, to really get to the line of scrimmage and have a chance to assess the defense and not be in an absolute rush."

On whether that's what he was saying was good for him in this last game:

"Yeah, that's what I was saying about the line's tempo. You know, I think they set that tempo a lot for us. They were doing a great job for that, doing a great job of getting in and out of the huddle up to the line of scrimmage, giving us a bunch of time at the line, especially as a quarterback, to use cadence, change that up and really get a good look at the defense before we go."