Alex Smith shows a new side to his game


Alex Smith shows a new side to his game

It's all starting to make sense now.On the day the 49ers selected Alex Smith with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2005 draft, his college coach, Urban Meyer, provided a prescient perspective of the young quarterback.Six-and-a-half years later, Meyer's words are worth revisiting."Alex is an extremely quick learner," Meyer began. "However, he's a guy that, until he understands it, he is nonfunctional. . . . Alex Smith is a person that, once he is taught, has to learn it all. He might struggle early, but once he gets it, he gets it."I'm going to be anxious to watch his development with the 49ers. Alex is so careful with the ball. His touchdown-to-interception ratio the last 2 years (at Utah) was phenomenal (47 touchdowns and seven interceptions). That's because, unless he knows exactly what's going on, he won't throw it. He won't just try to guess and take a shot. He has to know."Meyer concluded, "That's why, early in his career, and early in our career with him at Utah, he was not an effective passer, because he really didn't understand. Once he understood, there was no one better. He learns quickly, though. But he's not a guy that you throw the ball out there and tell him, 'Go play.' He wants to know what is exactly expected of him and then he becomes a dynamite player." Alex Smith is coming off a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in which he completed 11 of 19 passes for 170 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.But the play that impressed me the most was an incomplete pass he threw in the second quarter. I've watched every snap of Smith's professional career. I've seen him in practice through the years.What I saw him do Sunday against the Buccaneers was something I'd never seen him do -- ever. With as many changes as Smith has endured in his seven-year career, it looks as if he is finally just going out and playing football.
It was a first-and-10 at the Tampa Bay 45-yard line. Smith dropped into the pocket. He rolled to his left to buy a little extra time. Then, he did something that, seemed almost out of character.
He signaled with his left hand to tight end Delanie Walker to abandon the script and go deep. In six seasons, I've witnessed a mostly robotic, paint-by-numbers quarterback. This is the first time I saw him improvise in such a way.The fact that the pass fell incomplete into the end zone was of little consequence. The play might have been symbolic of something greater."We were just playing football," Walker said. "That's something Alex hasn't ever done before. It kind of shocked me a little bit. I think that's why I misjudged the ball. He saw I had the dude beat and nobody was behind me. I came back and he was like, 'Go! Go deep.'"That was the first time doing it, so we weren't on the same page. Now, we're going to be on the same page. He wanted to put it on my outside shoulder to lead it away from the safety that was playing inside. It was basically playing street football."When I asked Smith about the play, he said he and the 49ers' offense are getting a lot more comfortable and confident."When you're comfortable with what you're doing, you're making good decisions and in your head the play slows down," Smith said. "So when a play breaks down, you stay under control."The epitome of that is when I watch Aaron (Rodgers) and the Packers. Everything is under control. All of a sudden, when it's not there, he remains so fluid and under control and there's never a breakdown or anxiety. He's so comfortable and they're so comfortable, and everything is under control, so they play faster because of it."I think there's a little of that with us. But I think we have a long way to go, and I have a long way to go."

49ers release Coffee after reinstating RB off retired list

49ers release Coffee after reinstating RB off retired list

Running back Glen Coffee, who walked away from the 49ers during training camp before his second NFL season, was reinstated Friday off the reserve-retired list.

As part of the same transaction wire released by the NFL office, the 49ers released Coffee, making him a free agent.

After seven seasons away from the game, Coffee is attempting a comeback, his agent told on Saturday.

“I can tell you, he’s in great shape,” agent Ray Oubre said. “The man doesn’t have a six-pack, he’s got a 12-pack. He’s been waiting for the right time to hopefully get a workout with someone and show what he can do.

“He had a calling, and right now he feels like it’s his time to show what he can do. He explained to me, ‘I can do things now that I couldn’t do when I was initially with the 49ers.’ That’s the kind of shape he’s in.”

Coffee, who turns 30 on May 1, was a third-round draft pick (No. 74 overall) of the 49ers in 2009. He was the sixth running back selected in that year's draft. Coffee appeared in 14 games as a rookie and carried 83 times for 226 yards and one touchdown. He also caught 11 passes for 78 yards.

During training camp the next year as his teammates were exiting the locker room for the practice field in August 2010, Coffee cut the tape from his shoes and left the team's Santa Clara practice facility. He later informed then-coach Mike Singletary of his decision to stop playing football. Coffee said he believed God had a bigger plan for him.

Coffee was a specialist in the Sixth Battalion of the Army Rangers after enlisting in 2013. He is no longer active, Oubre said.

“He’s been training several months,” Oubre said. “The rigors of the Army Rangers, he was already in shape. He’s taking it to another level now. He’s been training for more than four months.

“He feels like he served and now the time is right. He’s in a good place. He understands, you can’t play football forever and you can’t do any one thing forever. He’s in a place right now that he wants to use his God-given ability as a football player.”

Coffee turned pro after his junior season at Alabama. In his final college season, Coffee rushed for 1,383 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Coffee has been training under Johnny Jackson at JDPI Sports Performance in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Oubre said he will be in contact with all 32 NFL teams to see if there’s any interest in bringing in Coffee for workouts. He might also hold an open workout for any interested teams.

Sponsored by Harbaugh, Kap named one of Top 100 most influential people

Sponsored by Harbaugh, Kap named one of Top 100 most influential people

Former 49ers quarterback and current free agent Colin Kaepernick has been named one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People on Thursday. 

Each person named to the list is represented by a sponsor who then writes on why they are worthy of the honor. For Kaepernick, his former coach Jim Harbaugh wrote on him. 

Harbaugh coached Kaepernick for four seasons from 2011-2014. The two reached the Super Bowl together in the 2012 season. 

Other sports figures named to the list include Conor McGregor, Theo Epstein, LeBron James, Tom Brady, Simone Biles, and Neymar.

Kaepernick made national headlines this past season for his decision to first sit and then kneel during the national anthem as a fight against social injustices. 

Below is what Harbaugh wrote on Kaepernick's influence: 

Colin Kaepernick was alone in his early protests last year when he boldly and courageously confronted perceived inequalities in our social-justice system by refusing to stand for the national anthem. At times in our nation's history, we have been all too quick to judge and oppose our fellow Americans for exercising their First Amendment right to address things they believe unjust.

Rather than besmirch their character, we must celebrate their act. For we cannot pioneer and invent if we are fearful of deviating from the norm, damaging our public perception or—most important—harming our own personal interests.

I thank Colin for all he has contributed to the game of football as an outstanding player and trusted teammate. I also applaud Colin for the courage he has demonstrated in exercising his guaranteed right of free speech. His willingness to take a position at personal cost is now part of our American story.

How lucky for us all and for our country to have among our citizens someone as remarkable as Colin Kaepernick.