There's not much more that could be expected from unsigned quarterback Alex Smith during this work stoppage. He is living up to expectations in March, April, May and June. And none of it will matter one bit unless he also plays well and leads the 49ers to some victories in September, October, November and December.--CSNBayArea.com, June 13SAN FRANCISCO -- When the above paragraph was written at the conclusion of Camp Alex, the idea of the 49ers winning games in January seemed a bit far-fetched.And, now, the same team that went 6-10 a year ago -- and seemingly had no opportunity to get better during a lost offseason -- is just one victory away from extending their improbable run into February, too.Back in those summer months, quarterback Alex Smith did everything in his power to give himself and his teammates a chance to succeed this season.He had no intention of returning to the 49ers after his contract expired. But after spending considerable time with new coach Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff, Smith reconsidered.
When the lockout lifted for one day in late April because of a court order, Smith spent all day at the 49ers' team offices gathering material about the team's offense. He did that despite being unsigned.After studying all that material for a month, Smith held two weeks of seminars at San Jose State for his offensive teammates in which he taught an introductory course in the new offense."It was like the first coat of paint, the primer," Smith said.Nobody could've expected seven months later that the 49ers would be playing host to the NFC Championship Game on Sunday against the New York Giants at Candlestick Park. The winner earns a trip to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis to face the winner of the AFC Championship, either Baltimore or New England.Smith was, without question, the perfect quarterback for Harbaugh in those months of the lockout. And he hasn't been too shabby during the season, either.He posted career-best numbers in every statistical category. Under his direction, the 49ers' passing game was efficient but certainly not prolific.Giants coach Tom Coughlin offered praise of Smith in November, saying he was doing a good job of managing games. New York defensive lineman Justin Tuck said all the 49ers ask of Smith is not to lose the game.Then, the 49ers defeated the Giants 27-20, and Smith was asked about the labels."I just saw the one that I got called a manager or whatever, and this and that," Smith said. "I could really care less, honestly. That is the honest truth. It feels good to be 8-1. I managed myself into a victory that's all I could care about."With Smith throwing just five interceptions during the regular season, the 49ers tied an NFL record for fewest turnovers in a season with 10.Through it all, it was reasonable to wonder if the 49ers could keep pace with a high-scoring team once the playoffs began. Smith provided that answer in the divisional round against the New Orleans Saints.Smith became the first quarterback in NFL history to lead his team to two go-ahead touchdowns in the three minutes of a playoff game. His 14-yard dart to tight end Vernon Davis in the end zone provided the 49ers with a 36-32 victory over the Saints.Suddenly, Alex Smith is looking as comfortable in the most pressure situations as he appeared during the low-key workouts at San Jose State in the summer.Smith and his teammates appeared unusually calm during the week of the championship game."I think all the guys feel better this week even more than last week," he said. "The bye week and the first playoff game there was maybe a little more anxiety than this week. I feel like this week, obviously guys know the stakes are high, but we're a little more back in the routine of things."
First-year coach Kyle Shanahan is close to completing his 49ers coaching staff.
Shanahan will handle the duties of the offensive coordinator, the position he held with Houston, Washington and Atlanta over the past nine NFL seasons.
Robert Saleh is the 49ers' new defensive coordinator, while Richard Hightower has been hired as the special-teams coordiator.
Here's a look at the 49ers' coaching staffs under Shanahan and last season under Chip Kelly:
2017 49ERS COACHING STAFF
Position: Coach (2016 job)
Head coach: Kyle Shanahan (Falcons, offensive coordinator)
Defensive coordinator: Robert Saleh (Jaguars, linebackers coach)
Special teams coordinator: Richard Hightower (Bears, assistant special teams)
Assistant head coach/tight ends: Jon Embree (Buccaneers, tight ends)
Run game specialist: Mike McDaniel (Falcons, offensive assistant)
Quarterbacks: Rich Scangarello (Wagner, offensive coordinator)
Running backs: Bobby Turner (Falcons, running backs)
Wide receivers: Mike LaFleur (Falcons, offensive assistant)
Offensive line: Vacant
Offensive assistant: T.C. McCartney (LSU, offensive assistant)
Senior defensive assistant: Jason Tarver (49ers, outside linebackers)
Defensive line: Jeff Zgonina (N.Y. Giants, assistant defensive line)
Linebackers: Johnny Holland (Browns, inside linebackers)
Defensive backs: Jeff Hafley (49ers, defensive backs)
Offensive quality control: Taylor Embree (Chiefs, defensive assistant)
Defensive quality control: Bobby Slowik
Head strength and conditioning: Ray Wright
* * *
2016 49ERS COACHING STAFF
Position: Coach (current status)
Head coach: Chip Kelly
Offensive coordinator: Curtis Modkins (Bears, running backs)
Defensive coordinator: Jim O’Neil
Special teams coordinator: Derius Swinton
Quarterbacks: Ryan Day (Ohio State, quarterbacks)
Running backs: Tom Rathman
Wide receivers: Bob Bicknell
Tight ends: Jeff Nixon (Baylor, co-offensive coordinator/running backs)
Offensive line: Pat Flaherty (Jaguars, offensive line)
Assistant offensive line: Eric Wolford (South Carolina, offensive line)
Defensive line: Jerry Azzinaro (Cal, defensive line)
Assistant defensive line: Vince Oghobaase
Outside linebackers: Jason Tarver (49ers, senior defensive assistant)
Inside linebacker: Joe Bowden
Defensive backs: Jeff Hafley (49ers, defensive backs)
Assistant defensive backs: Roy Anderson (Bears, assistant secondary)
Assistant special teams: Michael Clay
Offensive quality control: Mick Lombardi (Jets, offensive assistant/assistant QBs coach)
Defensive quality control: Tem Lukabu
Senior analyst: Dana Bible
Director of human performance: Mark Uyeyama
John Benton, who coached on the same staff during Kyle Shanahan’s four seasons with the Houston Texans, has reportedly received permission from the Denver Broncos to interview with the 49ers.
The Broncos hired Benton on Jan. 15 to work as the team’s assistant offensive line coach under line coach Jeff Davidson.
But Denver coach Vance Joseph and general manager John Elway provided Benton permission to interview with the 49ers, Denver’s 9News reported. The Sacramento Bee was first to report the 49ers were looking at Benton.
The offensive line coach is the last major position that remains vacant on Shanahan’s staff.
Benton worked last season as Jacksonville’s assistant offensive line coach. He worked the previous 13 seasons as offensive line coach with the St. Louis Rams (2003-05), Houston (2006-2013) and Miami (2014-15).
Shanahan’s first NFL coaching job was with Houston in 2006, when he coached wide receivers. Shanahan became the quarterbacks coach with the Texans in 2007 before spending the next two seasons as offensive coordinator under then-coach Gary Kubiak.
The 49ers announced nine additions to the coaching staff on Friday.
Also, the 49ers are expected to hire Daniel Bullocks as assistant defensive backs coach, according to The Sporting News. 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.