Postgame Q&A -- Alex Smith

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Postgame Q&A -- Alex Smith

SAN FRANCISCO -- The journey -- from No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft to target of boo-birds at Candlestick Park to playoff hero -- has been a challenging one for 49ers quarterback Alex Smith. Throughout, he hasn't gotten too high when things went well, or too low during his struggles.

After San Francisco's 36-32 win over the Saints, he kept it typically in perspective, deflecting credit to others and showing his trademark modesty in this Q&A session with the media.

QB Alex SmithPress Conference January 14, 2012San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

Q: Alex, what was that like emotionally, that win right now?
Smith: Yeah, its about as good as it gets. Feels great. There were just so many ups and downs in this game, so many ups and downs. We talked about it. We knew it was going to be like that a little bit. Didnt know it was going to be to that extreme. Kind of the whole day it just seemed like. First quarter, come out were getting the turnovers, were scoring. Then lull there in the second quarter, kind of lull there in the third. Then the last five minutes were dramatic enough. So, crazy. I feel so much different than in years past, just the sideline. The sideline atmosphere is so much different. When bad things happen, when plays get made against us, things like that. The guys are just so confident. I think that as long as theres time left, we have a shot.

Q: You felt confident after the Saints TE Jimmy Graham touchdown?
Smith: Well, I knew we had to get a field goal. No, so it wasnt like we had to get the touchdown. I knew a field goal was at potential, absolutely. Weve had a great special teams, great kicker. Knew that hes made long ones all year. So, just to give him a shot, that was the goal really. I wasnt afraid to take RB Frank Gore early. We were getting eight, 10-yard chunks with him. At 1:30, we had one timeout. So, we could do that all day. We could take that down the field. That would have got us in field goal range. Then they jumped into man and as soon as I saw it, I knew TE Vernon Davis was the guy and he made a great play.

Q: Could you describe that play? The pass to Vernon that won the game.
Smith: That won the game?
Q: Yeah.
Smith: We clocked. We had the timeout left. So, I think there were like 14 seconds left. Taking a shot there at the end zone. You get it, you score, you win the game potentially, or you get down, you check it down, you call timeout and kick the field goal. I got the window and I cut it loose to him. Vernon made a great play in traffic, getting hit as he catches it. He deserves a lot of credit. He made a great play.

Q: Did you throw that ball especially hard? It seemed from where I was standing that you really threw it hard.
Smith: Yeah, all week we had practiced it. I knew it was going to be a bang-bang play and that you were going to have to get it in there. It wasnt going to be a lob ball.

Q: On your run you huddled with Harbaugh on the sideline before that. Can you just put a taste through that conversation?
Smith: Well, we went from third and I think, two, and we got the penalty. All of a sudden youre at third and seven or eight. So, the play-calling changes. Offensive Coordinator Coach Greg Roman, as we were kind of talking over there on the sidelines mentioned that one. He and Coach Harbaugh were kind of debating whether or not to do it. I loved it, so I jumped on it.

Q: So, you campaigned for yourself?
Smith: Yeah, I did a little bit. I like the QB run stuff. It adds a little dimension for us. And it was just a great call, great call. I think the coaches deserve a lot of credit there. And then WR Kyle Williams came down and cracked the end. T Joe Staley pulling out in front and got the last block on the safety. It made my job pretty easy.

Q: Going around there, did you see a big open space?
Smith: Well no, once I saw the crack, really it was third-and-eight. The first down was what I was going for. Once I saw that and got around the edge, I knew I was going to get the first. It was just a matter of whether or not you get the six. Joe made a great block on the safety.

Q: Alex, youve been doubted for so much of your career. What does this mean to you personally? Especially orchestrating those game-winning touchdowns there at the end?
Smith: Were still playing. Thats what it means. It feels great. Weve got another week of work and I dont want this to end. I dont think anyone does in that locker room because its been such a great year. Such a great group of guys, coaches and players. I think we love coming to work every day, I know I do. And well get one more week at least. Im loving it right now.

Q: What were you thinking when you see Vernon get so emotional there after the touchdown? You went over there too?
Smith: Yeah, happy for him. Really happy for Vernon. Even at halftime, got in here at halftime and got a little emotional with us on offense and got after us a little bit. There in the second half, really just stayed patient. Just for Vernon, just to stay patient though. The whole third quarter there was not much happening for us on offense, even in the start of the fourth. And then really three or four times he got one-on-one and he made the play every single time. We got the cover-zero the first drive and I hit him down the sideline. He made a great play on that. Then there on the last drive, he made his plays when he had to with the game on the line. So, Im really happy for him.

Q: Tell us what was going through your head before you made the greatest touchdown pass of your life?
Smith: I didnt want to force it if it wasnt there, obviously. I knew we were in field goal range. So, its one thing if you have to have the touchdown, that throws a lot easier I feel like. If youre down by four, youve got to score. We were in field goal range. So, we had what we had in hand. You dont want to force anything. So, really it was if the window was there, I was going to cut it loose, but if not I didnt want to force that. Its a fine line and Vernon made me right.

Q: How big was that window to Vernon?
Smith: I dont know. I cut it loose early. So, I dont know. I threw it and he made the play.

Q: It seemed like you guys were aggressive throughout. What did that philosophy sort of say about you, just the overall push for the game?
Smith: We had to play that way. Just the style, their whole team. Obviously, the way they play on offense, the way they move the ball. They can kind of score at any second. But the way they play on defense. Theyre coming every snap potentially. Its a really high risk, high reward, a lot of pressure. The guy nicknamed himself Dr. Heat. So, its that for a reason. Its coming. And its like that. Its the name of the game. High risk, high reward. Youve just got to be able to make your plays when you get it. Theyre going to have theirs and they did. They were going to make their plays, but you had to be able to make them pay when you got your chances. And we did. Luckily, they just came there at the very end.

Transcript courtesy San Francisco 49ers media relations.

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

SANTA CLARA – Despite recording seven interceptions in his first two seasons and being named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, Eric Reid said he believes he is now in a role that best fits his skillset.

Whereas in the past, the 49ers’ safety positions were considered interchangeable, there is a clear delineation this season under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“Even dating back to college, this is the first time there’s a distinct strong (safety) and a distinct free (safety),” Reid said. “I’ve been used to the interchangeability type of role.

“(In) some situations, certain calls where there’s a motion, we might flip. There are a couple situations where I might be in the post in the free-safety role, but it’s not nearly as much as it has been in the past.”

Reid, who is listed at 6 foot 1, 213 pounds, said he is excited to be stationed closer to the line of scrimmage for run support while free safety Jimmie Ward patrols the deep middle of the field.

The 49ers offseason program concluded Wednesday, and Reid found himself in the middle of the action with an interception on a short Brian Hoyer pass over the middle. While he will still be counted upon for coverage, his biggest impact could come to assist a run defense that last season ranked among the worst in NFL history.

“I love it, being around the ball more,” Reid said. “I anticipate making more tackles, hopefully making more plays. I feel like I was made for this position with my body type, being a bigger safety. I’m excited about this year.

“I feel like I’m using what God has blessed me with, more, which is my size and being in the box in the run game. In the past, I felt like I could do more. And being in the post, I can’t use my size as much when it comes to the run game.”

After producing seven interceptions in his first two seasons, Reid recorded just one interception in 26 games over the past two seasons.

As a first-round pick in 2013, the 49ers picked up the fifth-year option this season for $5.676 million. He is scheduled for unrestricted free agency at the conclusion of the season. Reid said the 49ers have not spoken to his representation about a long-term extension. That will come, he believes, if he lives up to his end of the bargain in his new, streamlined role.

“I look at it from a business standpoint,” Reid said. “I majored in business. They have me under contract. They don’t have any reason to talk to right now. I imagine if I play well in the first half of the season, they’ll reach out to me. Maybe they’ll reach out to me before training camp, I don’t know. It’s whatever route they decide to take. It’s a business. I’ll treat it as a business. I have a job to do, so I’ll do it.”

 

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

SANTA CLARA – Kyle Shanahan always wanted to coach football with his father. But, first, he knew he had to prove himself without any boost from his well-known dad.

Once the son established himself as one of the NFL’s respected offensive minds, the Shanahans teamed up for four up-but-mostly-down seasons with Washington.

Mike, the two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach, hired his son to serve as his top offensive assistant in 2010.

“I thought we saw football similar, but we quickly realized after a few weeks that we saw it differently,” Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area in February. “We grew together. He gave me a lot of leeway while I was there. It was fun to try a bunch of different things, having to even incorporate the zone read when we got Robert (Griffin).

“We did our deal in Washington, and I wouldn’t take that back for the world, but that was pretty much the end of it.”

Kyle Shanahan broke into the coaching ranks under Karl Dorrell at UCLA. He moved onto the NFL to work with Jon Gruden on the staff of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Gary Kubiak with the Houston Texans. But nothing prepared him for the scrutiny he would face as offensive coordinator under his father.

Kyle Shanahan adjusted the Washington offense to take advantage of Griffin’s skills as a dual-threat quarterback as a rookie 2012. The club qualified for the playoffs with a 10-6 record.

But things blew up the following season as the Mike Shanahan-Griffin relationship soured. Shanahan and eight assistant coaches, including Kyle, were fired the morning after Washington’s 3-13 season concluded.

Mike Shanahan has remained out of coaching, though he was a finalist for the 49ers’ head-coaching job after the 2015 season. The 49ers hired Chip Kelly.

Kyle Shanahan rebuilt his career with one season as offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns and two successful seasons with the Atlanta Falcons to enable him to become CEO Jed York’s choice to replace Kelly.

There is no official role for Mike Shanahan, 64, on his son’s staff with the 49ers. But the father has attended several of the team’s practices this offseason, including both days of the 49ers’ mandatory minicamp this week. Mike has been issued his own iPad that gives him access to the 49ers playbook and coach's film. He will likely visit for an extended stay during training camp. But Kyle said he believes his dad will mostly remain home -- only a phone call away -- during the regular season.

“He’s enjoying life right now,” said Kyle, 37. “He’s got a pretty good deal in Denver, where he lives. He can help me out in other ways anyways without having to be here every day.”

Mike Shanahan does not need to be in the building every day to counsel and have influence on his son as he tries to navigate his first season as the head coach while also maintaining the responsibilities of running the team’s offense.

“You’re going 1,000 miles an hour,” Kyle Shanahan said. “Sometimes to see everything you’ve got to really slow things down and take your time to look at stuff and you don’t always have that time as a head coach.

“It’s nice when someone you know who thinks similar to you has a similar background and he just sits in a room all day and watches stuff. He doesn’t have any other responsibilities. He can see some things that I’m not always seeing and just to bring things to light that maybe I missed or other people have missed.”

Mike Shanahan was a successful NFL offensive coordinator for seven seasons. He won a Super Bowl on George Seifert’s staff with the 49ers in January 1995. His dad believes his time around the 49ers has a lasting impact.

“When I was with San Francisco, Kyle was at the 49ers training camps in Rocklin,” Mike Shanahan told Fangirl Sports Network. “He stayed with me at camp and we talked about football every night.

“He had the opportunity to experience an organization that had won four Super Bowls in nine years. He also had the opportunity to be around some great people and leaders. He still tells stories and talks about people like Steve Young, Joe Montana, Harris Barton, Tom Rathman, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Deion Sanders, and many others. What a great experience to see how these men handled themselves on and off the field.”

The Denver Broncos hired him to become head coach shortly after the 49ers’ 49-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. Shanahan went on to win two Super Bowls in his 14 seasons with the Broncos.

Kyle Shanahan was a wide receiver at Duke before finishing college at Texas, where he caught 14 passes for 127 yards in two seasons. He figured he would have a career in football and it would not be as a player.

“I’ve wanted to coach my whole life,” Kyle Shanahan said. “This is all I’ve known, just growing up around football. It’s almost all I’ve been into, too. Since I was little, it’s distracted me from everything I’ve done, especially school. I always tried to tell my mom, ‘Just be patient, it’ll play out for us in the long run.’ Fortunately, it did.

“Once I realized my genes were a little bit better as a coach than as a player, I pretty much locked into that – and that was about halfway through college. I haven’t looked back.”

During his short time with the 49ers, players on both sides of the ball have expressed amazement at how knowledgeable Kyle Shanahan is about the game of football. His dad told Fangirl Sports Network to succeed as a head coach he must always be dedicated to stuyding, learning and teaching the sport.

“He loves the game and knows it inside and out,” Mike Shanahan said. “My advice to him is to never lose the drive to study the game as he’s done over the last 13 years. To stay in the NFL as a head coach and have success for any length of time, you must never lose your drive to teach and stay abreast of what the top teams are doing every year: offense, defense, special teams. You must be able to coach all positions to really understand the whole game.”

Former 49ers president Carmen Policy said he remembers young Kyle serving as a ball boy during 49ers training camp in the early 1990s. Policy, who remains close to Mike Shanahan, has followed Kyle’s rise in the coaching ranks while playfully questioning the sanity of the family business.

Said Policy: “I used to tease Mike, ‘What kind of father are you to let your kid go into coaching?’ I said, ‘You should be charged with dereliction of parental duty.’ And he’d laugh and say, ‘Yeah, I tried talking to him and then my wife tried talking to him, but that’s his passion, and that’s what he wants to do, so I’m not going to dissuade him from it.’

“And, then, look at what happened. Here he is. He’s the head coach of the 49ers, and that’s just incredible.”