Maiocco: Smith Feels He's Earned Leader's Role


Maiocco: Smith Feels He's Earned Leader's Role

Matt Maiocco
CSNBayArea.comSANTA CLARA -- There were a couple things I saw in the past week from 49ers quarterback Alex Smith that caught my attention.On Thursday, he remained on the field for about 20 minutes after practice. He was the center of attention in a relaxed conversation with Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan and Ted Ginn. At the end, the players put their hands together -- much like you'd see from a basketball team breaking a huddle.Two days later, Smith's demeanor was different. He was noticeably agitated and it was clear he was venting to the 49ers' coaching staff when he continued to get the play calls from the sideline late in the play clock against the Raiders.During his first five seasons with the 49ers, Smith exhibited a mellow personality. The only time he showed much fire was when he took on then-coach Mike Nolan in 2007 when Nolan said Smith was healthy after Smith tried to return from a separated throwing shoulder.His body language has been different this offseason. He is much more assertive. I asked Smith if he believes he has earned the right to be more demanding of others this season."Yeah, absolutely," Smith answered. "I think what I was saying out there and was demanding wasn't anything that I couldn't. Whereas, maybe if I was younger, I just wouldn't know what to do. I would have just been out there and tried to work through it."Throughout the offseason -- and continuing through training camp -- Smith has shown the signs of being a better leader."That's something I guess I think I've learned," Smith said. "Leadership comes in lots of different forms. I've talked to a lot, especially that perimeter group, and I think the biggest thing that comes in for us is communication. And it's communication, getting things figured out, getting things right, getting on the same page. And it never ends."So what was going on when Smith was the ringleader in a group meeting last week that involved the team's top offensive playmakers?"I want to leave that between us," he said. "Basically, to summarize a little bit, just us coming together. Camp was closing down."I talked with all those guys individually, but I think we all wanted to come together and make sure we were all on the same page as a perimeter group -- that we had the right attitude, the right mindset going forward, and we were going to set some things straight with all of us to make sure we were all thinking the same thing."

49ers sign top pick Solomon Thomas during first practice

49ers sign top pick Solomon Thomas during first practice

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers completed contract negotiations with their final unsigned draft pick as the team was going through warm-ups for the first practice of training camp.

Former Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas, whom the 49ers selected with the No. 3 overall pick, signed Friday and was expected to join his teammates later in the day.

The sides agreed to the mandatory four-year contract worth more than $28 million, including a signing bonus of approximately $18.6 million. The deal is expected to be fully guaranteed.

The 49ers also have an option for the fifth season (2021) that must be exercised months after the 2019 season.

Thomas was unable to participate in full-squad workouts during the offseason due to Stanford’s late class schedule. NFL rules prohibit a rookie from attending the offseason program until his school’s classes have concluded for the spring session.

The 49ers – and the vast majority of NFL teams – have not had a contract stalemate with a rookie since the new collective bargaining agreement went into effect in 2011.

The organization had similar timing with a first-round pick from last year. Guard Joshua Garnett, also from Stanford, signed with the 49ers on the evening before players were scheduled to report to training camp.

Around the NFL, there has been only one notable contract disagreement that prevented a draft pick from reporting to camp in a timely fashion. Defensive lineman Joey Bosa, whom the Chargers selected with the No. 3 pick last year, sat out a month of training camp due to a disagreement over how his bonus would be distributed. Bosa and Thomas are both represented by the agent firm of Creative Artists Agency.

Ward injures hamstring under team supervision, placed on PUP


Ward injures hamstring under team supervision, placed on PUP

SANTA CLARA – Safety Jimmie Ward was placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list to open training camp with a hamstring injury, the 49ers announced Friday morning.

General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan stated on Thursday that all of their players were healthy and no players would be headed to PUP or the non-football injury list.

But that was before the 49ers were scheduled to have their conditioning test. Ward sustained the injury on Thursday during the team's conditioning test. The team lists him as "week to week."

He can be activated to begin practice at any time. Ward is also eligible to begin the regular season on the PUP list. Any player who opens the regular season on PUP is ineligible for the first six weeks of the season.

Ward is expected to be one of the key members of the 49ers' defense from the free safety position. His role is dubbed "The Eraser," fellow safety Eric Reid said, because of his role as a playmaker in the secondary. However, one of the major questions about Ward is his ability to remain healthy through the rigors of an NFL season.

Ward missed eight games as a rookie due to a foot injury. Last year, he sat out five games due to a shoulder injury.