Alex Smith ready to show lockout helped him, 49ers
Camp Alex II is officially over.
Nobody knows for certain when the San Francisco 49ers will begin
training camp. Or if Alex Smith can be as successful of a
quarterback this fall as he has been this summer.
The 49ers’ former and apparently future quarterback ended his
final scheduled informal team workout Friday. After organizing two
separate four-day mini-camps at San Jose State that included most
of the offensive players, Smith said he has installed about as much
of new coach Jim Harbaugh’s West Coast system as he can this
All he can do now is wait for the NFL lockout to end so he can
show how much the workouts really accomplished.
”I know what I installed and everything I basically threw at
the wall. I don’t know how much of it stuck to the wall,” said
Smith, a free agent expected to re-sign with the team. ”And I
think that’s going to be the test when these guys come back,
whenever this thing ends, how much of it stuck.”
At the very least, Smith believes the workouts have put the
49ers in a better position.
San Francisco has among the most to lose the deeper the labor
disagreement goes, with so much under Harbaugh that is unknown and
unsettled. Smith spent just a few hours with Harbaugh and his staff
when the lockout was briefly lifted, leaving the team’s
headquarters with boxes of game highlights and a playbook.
Smith studied the information and relayed that to his teammates
during classroom sessions he taught on a drawing board. He even
quizzed them when it was over and awarded undisclosed prizes,
revealing only that receiver Kevin Jurovich left happiest.
The two dozen or so players at most of the workouts – which was
down to 10 offensive players on the last day because of the
upcoming holiday weekend – also went into Spartan Stadium for about
90 minutes to run plays each day led by Smith.
”I got put in a position where I just kind of felt like I
needed to do it,” he said. ”All of a sudden, I didn’t know how
long the lockout was going to go, as it got longer and longer, more
and more I felt like we were behind the eight ball and needed to do
That leadership quality has been sorely missing from San
The 49ers haven’t had a winning season or reached the playoffs
since 2002, and inconsistency at the position might be the biggest
reason why. With the exception of receiver Michael Crabtree, who
has openly questioned whether Smith is the presumed starter,
players at the workouts have said all the right things about
There’s still little from his past play to suggest he will be
the franchise’s long-term solution, and the presence of
second-round pick Colin Kaepernick figures to ignite the fan
pessimism that revolves around Smith the first time the 2005 No. 1
overall pick throws an interception.
Smith will be the first to admit the workouts he organized will
be meaningless if he can’t finally deliver consistently when it
counts. The only action from this summer Harbaugh will see will be
on video from the workouts Smith taped. The rest will be up to the
quarterback to prove in front of the new coach.
Smith is flirting with the idea of holding another mini-camp or
even a larger session to mimic training camp if the lockout
persists into late July. With so many free agents on the defensive
side, Smith isn’t sure he could find 11 players to fill out a
roster – and he wouldn’t hold contact drills anyway for fear of
Smith and others will continue to lift weights and exercise at
San Jose State in smaller groups in the coming weeks, waiting to
find out when training camp begins – and if Smith can be as
accomplished a quarterback against an NFL defense.
”I would feel pretty good at this point if training camp
started,” Smith said. ”Training camp is where the bulk of the
work comes in anyway. You love the offseason program, but I think
it serves as the same type of thing. It’s an introduction to this
stuff. The real football starts in training camp.”