Martz: Stabilization has led to Alex Smith's success

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Martz: Stabilization has led to Alex Smith's success

DENVER -- When Mike Martz watches Alex Smith now, he sees the player he expected
Smith to be during their brief time together.Martz, hired as 49ers offensive coordinator in 2008, went through the offseason and training camp with Smith in a competition against Shaun Hill and J.T. O'Sullivan.Smith lost the starting job O'Sullivan, and then he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery before the start of the regular season. Smith never returned to full health after sustaining a separated shoulder the previous season.Martz, who was in Denver on Sunday for a dress rehearsal to prepare him for his new job as a FOX NFL analyst, said he is not at all surprised that Smith rebounded last year with his best season."There've been so many moving parts around Alex during his career that when things got stabilized, he was allowed to develop," Martz said. "When I say moving parts, just the changing of the coordinators, receiver groups, offensive line changes. They've stabilized all that now."Martz was one of those coordinators -- Smith's fourth in four seasons. But Smith never attempted a regular-season pass in Martz's one year with the 49ers."Alex, when I had him, he was just not right," Martz said. "He missed a lot of throws that he normally wouldn't miss. I knew there was something wrong. I didn't say anything to him. And eventually he realized it, and that's when he had his (shoulder) surgery."Under Martz, the 49ers' offense ranked No. 23 in the NFL in yards -- a vast improvement from 32nd overall in 2007. The 49ers ranked 13th in passing yards.Mike Nolan, the coach who hired Martz, got fired during the season. Mike Singletary was promoted to head coach. Immediately following the season, Singletary fired Martz and eventually hired Jimmy Raye.Martz, now retired from coaching, left San Francisco with a high opinion of Smith from what he witnessed off the field."He's really a gifted guy -- very intelligent," Martz said. "He was a joy to work with -- he really was -- because he's a committed guy. He asks all the right questions. I'm very happy for him. He was in it all the time. He followed what we were doing. He was a pro."I never questioned that (his mindset). The only issue I had with him was the accuracy I saw in college and earlier, when I got there, he would miss throws he ordinarily wouldn't miss. I didn't know what to do about it, to be honest with you. I know he got frustrated with it, too. He's just too good of a player."Smith never told Martz that his shoulder was ailing, Martz said.Last season, Smith started all 18 regular-season and playoff games for the 49ers. He completed 61.4 percent of his passes with 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions."The thing you saw with him is that he made some incredible throws under duress, which is what he did in college," Martz said. "He'd have a guy in his face, and he'd stick it right on the guy. When he's not real confident about the throw, he's going to hold it a little bit. That's what he did with me. And he didn't do that last year. He was letting it go."I would've liked to have had him when he was feeling good and everything was good. But that's the way it is. That's the NFL."With a stable supporting cast that includes the return of coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman and talented surrounding cast, Smith is set up to build on last season, Martz said."They run the ball so effectively that anytime he flashes the ball to Frank Gore, the defense is coming toward the line of scrimmage," Martz said. "So the throws he's getting on first and second downs are big, productive throws, particularly to Vernon (Davis). Because the under coverage is coming down to stop the run and they have some big plays."With the additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham joining Michael Crabtree, the 49ers have some options Martz compares to his time with the St. Louis Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf.""That threesome, the wide receiver threesome, will help Alex immensely," Martz said. "We know what Vernon is. And Vernon is an elite player in the league. He just needed more than Vernon."If you can put three receivers and a tight end in there, how do you cover that? That's what we did in St. Louis. Pick your poison. I think they have to chance to do that. Moss does not have line up on their best cornerback any more. They can put Crabtree out there and put Moss in the slot. That's another mismatch."

49ers announce more hires to Shanahan's staff

49ers announce more hires to Shanahan's staff

Kyle Shanahan put together some of the final pieces of his coaching staff on Tuesday.

The 49ers announced the hirings of seven coaches, including confirmation of John Benton as offensive line coach.

The team hired former NFL standout linebacker DeMeco Ryans as defensive quality control coach. He was a second-round selection of the Houston Texans in 2006 and spent 10 seasons in the league. He finished his career playing four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The 49ers also hired Daniel Bullocks as assistant defensive backs coach, Stan Kwan as assistant special teams, Vince Oghobaase as assistant defensive line, Adam Stenavich as assistant offensive line, and Michael Clay as strength and conditioning assistant.

Benton, 53, was hired away from the Broncos after being on the job for approximately a month. Benton served as Jacksonville’s assistant offensive line coach last season. He worked the previous 13 seasons as offensive line coach with the St. Louis Rams (2003-05), Houston (2006-2013) and Miami (2014-15).

Benton and Shanahan worked together for four seasons with the Houston Texans.

Bullocks worked in the same role with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. The Jaguars' linebackers coach last season, Robert Saleh, is the 49ers' new defensive coodinator. Bullocks appeared in 31 games in three NFL seasons with the Detroit Lions in 2006 and '08.

John Lynch: 49ers will be up-front with Kaepernick

John Lynch: 49ers will be up-front with Kaepernick

The only promises new 49ers general manager John Lynch made quarterback Colin Kaepernick for this offseason are open communication and honesty.

Kaepernick has spent all six of his NFL seasons with the 49ers after being a second-round draft pick in 2011. He has started 58 of the 49ers’ past 71 regular-season games.

Kaepernick has the contractual ability to opt out of his contract in March. If he does not, it seems likely the 49ers would release him – even if they want him back – to avoid being on the hook for his scheduled $14.9 million pay for the 2017 season.

“The one thing we will do very well with Kap is we’ll communicate,” Lynch said Tuesday on 95.7 The Game. “And I think that’s very important for both sides. Like everything else, that process is well in the works. We’ll continue to do that and we’ll be very up-front with him, in terms of what we’re thinking and we’ll want to know what he’s thinking, as well.”

Lynch said he developed trust and a good rapport with Kaepernick during the time when the 49ers were among the top teams in the NFL. Lynch was a broadcaster for FOX-TV and had occasion to meet with Kaepernick multiple times during production meetings.

“Every time we talk about Kap, I think of the guy who was in the Super Bowl not too (long ago),” Lynch said. “Things happen in guys’ careers. Injuries happen. Different things happen.”

Kaepernick began last season as the backup to Blaine Gabbert. After regaining his starting role in Week 6, Kaepernick put together his best season since 2013 – his first full season as a starter.

Kaepernick completed 59.2 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. His passer rating was 90.7, and he added 468 yards rushing.

Lynch said he and coach Kyle Shanahan have been evaluating the players on the 49ers’ roster. The other three quarterbacks on the roster – Gabbert, Christian Ponder and Thad Lewis – are not under contract for next season.

“Like we said we would – and like we told Kap we would – we’re assessing everything,” Lynch said. “Both Kyle and I believe wholeheartedly that position is the most-important position in football.

“From every side of this thing, we’re evaluating. And we’re continuing to watch the film. We’ll continue to work toward that until we have made a decision.”