Postgame Q&A -- Alex Smith


Postgame Q&A -- Alex Smith

SAN FRANCISCO -- A disappointed and somber Alex Smith reviewed the NFC Championship and a dramatic 2011 season shortly after the 49ers' 20-17 defeat in overtime. The following is a transcript of a portion of the postgame conversation between San Francisco's QB and the media:

On his mood:
"Crappy. Overtime in the NFC championship game, it's a lot of work it's a tough road to even get here. And you get here and you're so close -- so it's not good, not a good feeling."

On San Francisco's third-down problems:
"We were awful on third down. We got ourselves in a lot of third-and-longs and even when we were third and manageable we didn't convert. It's just bad. I think it was the difference between us ... I mean, really, on offense that was what stands out to me, I think, from really controlling the game a little bit more. Didn't help out our defense enough, too many three-and-outs. Not enough plays. Convert those third downs and you give yourself more plays, more chances and so many of those not converting on third downs you're limiting all of our opportunities and it hurt us all night."

What were the Giants doing to keep you getting the ball to the wideouts?
"They were good. They mixed it up a lot today, I felt like, coverage-wise. They mixed it up a lot. It wasn't one thing that jumps out to me. They pressed us, they played coverage, they played Cover 2 -- mixed it up all throughout the game. We just weren't able to get into a rhythm, get any guys going outside. It limited us."

How does this game compare to the November game?
"I don't know without looking at the tape. I guess I felt like the first game was a lot of single-safety, a lot of playing the run -- left us a lot of 1-on-1s outside. There was that going on a times (but) they just mixed it up a lot more. There was a lot of two-high in this game on first and second down. A lot on third down, especially those third-and-longs that we couldn't convert. Two-deep, man-under and (we) couldn't. "

What can you say to Kyle Williams? Obviously you have to feel for him.
"Without question. For me, I'm looking at, what did we go -- 1-for-13 on third downs? I know it's tough for him, I'm sure he obviously is going to be thinking about those two punts -- two punt returns -- for quite a while. But we didn't lose the game there. We lost the game across the board and offensively, we just weren't good enough today. We didn't get it done. On third downs (is) the glaring one, we just weren't good enough."

Without Ted Ginn on offense, did it make it difficult to stretch the field?
"Yeah, it did but all teams have to deal with injuries. No question, he was the next guy in line and then he goes down -- the next guy stepped up, Kyle stepped up. (I) missed some opportunities outside, and I don't know if I -- it's hard to know without looking at the tape. ... We took a shot deep there in the second quarter and missed that. I would like to have another opportunity, but ..."

You made a lot of plays with your legs today -- did you think you would have to be doing that?
"I was aware of it. Last week (the Giants) played so much man, especially on third down -- Aaron (Rodgers) did the same thing, made a lot of plays with his feet. So I was aware of it if it was there. Had a couple of quarterback-designed stuff for me, and then a couple of scrambles, you know, just man-to-man. I felt like even when it was that, a couple of times I got out of the pocket and tried to make some plays on scrambles and we didn't -- three or four times I got out of the pocket with some time and we weren't able to do anything with it. Those are big-play potentials and we couldn't make anything happen there."

How do you feel -- anger, frustration, disappointment?
"Yeah, it's tough to put one word on it but all those things -- frustrated, disappointed."

How long will it take before you can step back and get over the moment look at the entirety of the season?
"I have no idea, sorry. It is a first for me. I don't know. I don't know. I'm sure it will be pretty crappy for a little while."

Have you talked to Kyle at all, did you say anything to him?
"Yeah, I mean there's not much you can say. I'd like to say I came up with something really great, but what do you say? What do you say to all of us? We all had a hand in it, but we all know him, how committed he is, how much he wants to win, what a part of the team he is -- so it's not on him. Those were two plays, two plays of a lot that went on tonight, and you can't put it on those."

Regarding his contract status. How soon will he address it?
"I got no idea as far as any of the contract stuff. I'll head in tomorrow and we'll just go from there."

On the weather
"It was kind of off and on all night. I would actually say the wind was more of a factor than the rain."

Jim Harbaugh: I deserve a medal for lasting so long under 49ers ownership

Jim Harbaugh: I deserve a medal for lasting so long under 49ers ownership

In Kyle Shanahan’s first breath after being introduced as 49ers head coach on Feb. 9, he mentioned Jim Harbaugh, along with Bill Walsh, George Seifert and Steve Mariucci.

The head coach of Michigan was listening, and he appreciated the gesture.

“It was very flattering that he said nice things about us at his news conference, and I appreciated that,” Harbaugh said on "The TK Show," a podcast from Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group.

“Now, I don’t think I was there long enough to be compared with Bill Walsh or Coach Seifert, etc. But I think did – and correct me if I’m wrong – I think we did set a record for coaching there the longest under the present ownership, if I’m not wrong.”

That is correct.

Since John and Denise York took over control of the 49ers in 2000 from Denise’s brother, Eddie DeBartolo, the 49ers have employed eight head coaches. Mike Nolan was fired after seven games of his fourth season. The two coaches who followed Harbaugh -- Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly -- were fired after 5-11 and 2-14 seasons, respectively.

Harbaugh’s teams advanced to the NFC Championship Game in each of his first three seasons, including a Super Bowl appearance. He and the 49ers “mutually parted ways,” the club announced, immediately after the team finished with an 8-8 record in 2014.

“I take pride in that,” Harbaugh said. “Maybe there should be an endurance medal, a courage medal, for that.”

Shanahan mentioned Harbaugh during his opening remarks at the introductory press conference earlier this month:

“I’ve got to start out thanking Jed and the whole York family. Giving me this opportunity is, it’s a dream come true and it’s not just an opportunity to be a head coach, but to be a head coach at a place like this where you talk about Bill Walsh, you talk about George Seifert, Steve Mariucci, Jim Harbaugh and you can go down the line with the coaches.”

Said Harbaugh, “Just appreciated it. Appreciated it, and not just for me personally, but appreciated that for all the wonderful players we had and the wonderful coaches and the effort that was put in. People poured their hearts and souls into those years. It’s just appreciated that Kyle would make that comment.”

Harbaugh said he has deep respect for Shanahan and new 49ers general manager John Lynch, whom Harbaugh asked to speak to his Stanford teams during his four-year tenure as head coach.

“Yeah, I would’ve loved to have worked for John Lynch,” Harbaugh said. “He reminds me a lot of the athletic director we have here Warde Manuel, who’s also a former player and a teammate of mine. Common sense guys who are team guys, just the way they go about their business always speaks volumes.

“I thought John took note when they were going through the process. e didn’t want his name mentioned and I think that’s . . . I don’t know if a lot of people noticed that, but I think that’s a profound thing. I think that speaks volumes for who he is as a person. He wants to do a good job and it’s for the right reasons. He’s a competitor at the highest level, so I have great respect for that.”

Kawakami also asked Harbaugh about whether he believes quarterback Colin Kaepernick is still capable of being an NFL starter.

“There’s no doubt he can be an NFL starting quarterback,” Harbaugh said.

“I’m sure Kyle, the coaching staff there and John will meet on it, they’ll think about it, they’ll watch, much like we did when we got in there in 2011. And they’ll make the best decision they can for the team and the organization and it’ll play out the way it’s going to play out.”

Lynch's hirings of Peters, Mayhew left no room for Gamble

Lynch's hirings of Peters, Mayhew left no room for Gamble

During the month the 49ers had no general manager or head coach, Tom Gamble was the next-highest-ranking football official and was charge of the personnel department on an interim basis.

But CEO Jed York made it clear from the beginning Gamble, whom Trent Baalke promoted to assistant general manager just prior to the start of training camp last summer, would not be considered for a promotion to general manager.

John Lynch, with no front-office experience, was hired over Arizona’s Terry McDonough and Minnesota’s George Paton. Before Lynch’s introductory press conference, he hired two top lieutenants in the personnel department to usurp Gamble on the organization's power structure.

On Wednesday, the 49ers announced what had become inevitable: Gamble was leaving the organization.

“I must thank Jed, the York family and the entire 49ers organization for the wonderful memories they provided me and my family, but it is time I move on,” Gamble said in a statement. “This past month, I have had the pleasure of working alongside John Lynch and the talented staff he has assembled. The team is in capable hands and I wish them nothing but the best.”

Lynch’s first move as general manager was to hire Adam Peters away from the Denver Broncos to serve as 49ers vice president of player personnel.

Lynch worked alongside Peters when Lynch took part in Broncos meetings and prospect evaluations, which included a trip to the NFL scouting combine, prior to the 2013 draft.

“That month, month-and-a-half, I actually sat next to Adam every day,” Lynch told “Those are long meetings. I’d listen to him and we’d talk in between about players. I just saw way back then, he’s a guy who’s highly respected in the league. I firmly believe in two, three years, he would’ve been a GM. He was on that track, at least.”

During Lynch’s introductory press conference a week later, he announced the hiring of Martin Mayhew as senior personnel executive. Lynch and Mayhew were teammates in the secondary for Lynch’s first four NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Mayhew spent seven seasons as Detroit Lions general manager. Mayhew should be able to provide Lynch with valuable counsel as learns on the job after spending the past eight seasons as a TV analyst on FOX.

“Martin has sat in the seat as a general manager and his experience will play an integral role in helping us locate the type of football player we want representing this organization both on the field and in the community,” Lynch said.

Gamble recently completed his 29th NFL season and his 10th with the 49ers in two stints. After he was fired as Philadelphia Eagles vice president of personnel late in the 2014 season, and came back to the 49ers in the 2015 offseason.

While with the Eagles, Gamble was one of the few individuals in the front office who worked well with Chip Kelly. Gamble played an important role in speaking up for Kelly and bringing him to the 49ers last offseason.

Kelly and Baalke were fired after the 49ers' 2-14 season, and the 49ers promoted the ability to create a fresh start when a new coach and general manager. While the 49ers were expecting Gamble to remain with the organization through the draft, his spot with the organization was going to be tenuous with a new regime.

“He is a class act who has helped a great deal in this transition, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him,” Lynch said in a statement. “After working together over the last month, Tom and I agreed that it would be in both of our best interests for him to pursue other opportunities.”