Alex Smith has a new view this season -- literally

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Alex Smith has a new view this season -- literally

SANTA CLARA -- Alex Smith has a new view on the quarterback position from his first six years in the NFL.Literally.And he has a much better grip than earlier in his career, too.Smith's view on the field is more unobstructed that previous seasons -- dating back to his college days at Utah, when he wanted a little more face protection because of the volume of hits he absorbed. Now, he has one fewer horizontal bar on his facemask.

In the past, the top bar on his facemask came up to the bridge of his nose:2010

Now, the top bar runs lower just below the tip of his nose:2011

"I've been thinking about changing it for a while," Smith told CSNBayArea.com of the new facemask he debuted at the beginning of training camp. "It's a visibility thing. That goes back to college. I wore it in college because I ran so much. I just stuck with it. I've been thinking about changing it for a few years now and I finally did it."Has it helped?"There are less bars," Smith said. "It's different. I notice the difference. I have less stuff in my face and my eyes."
RELATED: Alex Smith 2011 game logs Alex Smith career stats
Remember the early days of Smith's career when his hand size was being scrutinized because the ball would often slip out of his grasp like a wet bar of soap?Back in those days, the NFL rules allowed for the home team to provide the footballs for both teams. So Smith would show up for road games anxious to find out what kind of footballs awaited him.From that time in his career, Smith developed a habit that remains as part of his game-day routine.Every time there's a timeout or a change of possession, Smith is thrown a football near the sideline that he maintains in his hands until he tosses it aside to begin the next 49ers offensive possession."It goes back to what the NFL rules were when I first got into the league, when you didn't get to travel with your own footballs," Smith said. "So whoever was the opponent that week, the balls could be brand new. So I got into the habit of whatever the type of ball was, I'd get that type of ball on the sideline so I had it."Whatever I felt the ball was like from the first series, I'd go get a ball that was similar to it and just have it there with me. You'd never know. You'd practice all week with broken-in balls -- ones that were worn in -- and then the day of the game you'd be playing in St. Louis and it would be a ball right out of the box. Those were the balls they supplied."Now, each team is allowed to supply footballs for their own offense. During the week, the 49ers rub the sheen off new footballs with a mud similar to what Major League umpires use to get baseballs ready for game action."Our QB balls are similar to the game balls, so that's what I grab now," Smith said.Smith lost 13 fumbles in his first 30 NFL starts. In his past 36 starts, Smith has turned the ball over just five times on fumbles.Smith posted career-best numbers in helping the 49ers win the NFC West with a 13-3 record. He is the main reason the 49ers tied an NFL record for fewest turnovers (10) in the regular season. His vision and feel for the game coincidence or not -- are two of the main reasons behind the turnaround.

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman/defensive end Clay Matthews Sr. passed away on Thursday, March 23rd at the age of 88. 

Matthews originally entered the NFL as a 25th round (247th overall) draft choice by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1949 NFL Draft. He spent four seasons with San Francisco (1950, 1953-55), appearing in 45 games and registering one interception. After spending his rookie season of 1950 with the 49ers, he went on to spend two years (1951-52) in the United States Army where he served in the Korean War.

A native of Charleston, SC, Matthews attended Georgia Tech where he played guard, tackle and end while earning All-Southeastern Conference honors in 1948. In 1949, Matthews was the All-Southeastern Conference heavyweight wrestling and boxing champion at Georgia Tech.

Matthews was the first of three generations to play in the National Football League. His two oldest sons, Bruce and Clay Jr., each spent 19 seasons in the NFL. Originally selected by the Houston Oilers in the first round (9th overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft, Bruce was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 after 14 Pro Bowl and seven First-Team All-Pro selections. Clay Jr. was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 1st round (12th overall) in the 1978 draft and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection.

Three of Bruce’s sons, Jake, Kevin and Mike, and two of Clay Jr.’s sons, Clay III and Casey, either have spent time or currently play in the NFL. Clay III is currently a member of the Green Bay Packers and a six-time Pro Bowl selection at linebacker while Jake is currently an offensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons after being selected in the first round (6th overall) by the team in 2014. 

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After signing with Giants, Draughn pens long thank you to 49ers

After signing with Giants, Draughn pens long thank you to 49ers

Shaun Draughn is now a member of the New York Giants, but he won't ever forget his brief stint with the 49ers. The running back posted a long thank you to the organization and its fans on Thursday:

"I want to say thank you to the @49ers for giving my family and I a place to call home, a chance to be apart of an organization with rich history, class and a passion for family and community," Draughn posted on Instagram. "You guys gave me my first EVER NFL start on November 8,2015 and I will cherish that moment and milestone forever.

"Thank you to all the support staff, cooks(man Ima miss those crispies in the morning lol Travis and the fellas) , custodians (my man Joe keep planting those spiritual seeds my brotha), equipment (Doc, Steve, Gilby, and the crew) trainers( Ferg, ryan, Laura) pastor Earl thank you so much for your time and pouring into us spiritually. Coaches(coach Tom Rathman thank you for having a high standard for your players and forcing me to get better at my craft) and to the Niner Faithful you guys are great and very passionate about your team you made this a great experience as well!! To my teammates I love y'all like brothas and thank you for welcoming me in with open arms and making it a pleasure to go to war with y'all no matter the record!!"

Draughn, 29, averaged 3.1 yards per carry over two seasons with the 49ers, totaling 459 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. 

I want to say thank you to the @49ers for giving my family and I a place to call home, a chance to be apart of an organization with rich history, class and a passion for family and community. You guys gave me my first EVER NFL start on November 8,2015 and I will cherish that moment and milestone forever. Thank you to all the support staff, cooks(man Ima miss those crispies in the morning lol Travis and the fellas) , custodians (my man Joe keep planting those spiritual seeds my brotha), equipment (Doc, Steve, Gilby, and the crew) trainers( Ferg, ryan, Laura) pastor Earl thank you so much for your time and pouring into us spiritually. Coaches(coach Tom Rathman thank you for having a high standard for your players and forcing me to get better at my craft) and to the Niner Faithful you guys are great and very passionate about your team you made this a great experience as well!! To my teammates I love y'all like brothas and thank you for welcoming me in with open arms and making it a pleasure to go to war with y'all no matter the record!! To the @nygiants I want to say thank you for allowing me to be apart of such a first class organization!! I am excited to go to work in the quest for #5 and to the Fans I can assure you, you will get my ABSOLUTE best and nothing less, put a stamp on it‼️‼️ thank you God for ALWAYS making a way!! #Proverbs3:5-6 #BigBlue #GMen

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