SANTA CLARA -- Quarterback Alex Smith spoke to the media Thursday, as the 49ers begin preparations to face the Arizona Cardinals in a Monday night game.
Earlier this week, Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell said he "hates the 49ers with passion." Smith was asked about that, as well as his confidence and the middle finger on his throwing hand, which was sprained Oct. 7 against the Buffalo Bills.
Do you hate the Cardinals with a passion?
Smith: "Hate is a strong word. It is a strong word. I mean, they're a division opponent. There's a lot of history there. We play them twice a year. Great rivalry. Hate is word I wouldn't use."You guys always seem to have close, competitive games with the Cardinals, especially in Arizona. What is it about that setting?
Smith: "To be honest with you, I just think it's the nature of division games. It's what makes the NFL great. When you know a team that well, and you play them twice a year, year-in and year-out. The games, I feel like you rarely see blowouts either way. The games are always coming down to the wire. It's hard-fought. There's so much history there. The teams don't like each other, so it's a little more personal in that sense. They're tough."Any more or less than Seahawks?
Smith: "It's different. They all have their own deal. They all have their own history, the history of Vernon (Davis) and (Darnell) Dockett going back and forth. It's more specific. It's different than the rivalry with the Rams of the Seahawks. I don't know if any one is more or less."A couple national stories written about you and your confidence. . .
Smith: "How'd they say it is?"Not good.
Smith: "Oh, OK. All right."They said your confidence was shaken in that game against Seattle. What's your reaction?
Smith: "I think people are reading into a lot of different stuff and have no idea what's going on around here. My confidence is no different than it was a week ago, than it was a month ago, than it was a year ago. No different. Games change week in and week out. There are people that expect the same thing over and over again. That was a good defense we played on Thursday night. We played them on a short week. You look at what they did versus a lot of good quarterbacks this year. Look what they did against Aaron (Rodgers), they beat Tom Brady. Look what they did against (Tony) Romo. I think people just . . . I don't know what to think."How about your finger?
Smith: "It's getting better every week. It's just something you deal with. It's not something I think about a whole lot out there. Try not to."Was it able to improve with the time off?
Smith: "For sure. A little extra time off with the Thursday game, not having to do a ton with it. Having it rest over the weekend was nice."Did you throw much after Thursday?
Smith: "I threw on Monday. Thursday to Monday was the stretch I had there, which was nice."