Smith: 'We've got to do better'

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Smith: 'We've got to do better'

Q: How would you describe the last two days as far as it pertains to who has gotten the better of whom out there?
Alex Smith: Lopsided the last couple of days. New phase of camp for us in the sense that, kind of going first, second and third down and all of the sudden the last two days were red zone and red zone emphasis. First two days of it and not good. The defense definitely got the better of us, I felt like, in all aspects, 7-on-7 and team. So, obviously room for improvement, need to get better.

Q: Was that due to the fact that there just hasnt been a lot of contact up to this point and that favors the defense?

No, I dont think that. Theres a lot of things that go into it. One, theyre a great defense. Great players, ready players, they know what theyre doing, play fast. Were not game planning what our defense is doing necessarily. Youre putting stuff in that youre potentially going to see down the line versus different defenses. We still have got to go execute. Theres no excuse. Yesterday, a lot of turnovers for a multitude of reasons. Today was a little better in that regard, but still didnt get much done. Just falls on us as a whole on offense, just need to execute better.

Q: Head Coach Jim Harbaugh just described DT Justin Smith as a guy who every other team wants but still goes out there every day like hes trying to make the team. Do you guys ever tell him to slow down?
I dont. Maybe the O-Linemen do. It seems like its contagious. I feel like the entire D-Line plays like that. A lot of great players up there and they all practice that way. They all practice extremely hard and love football. The whole defense in general too, but especially that front. On one hand its great for us. Its great to go against them every single day. They play every defense imaginable, every coverage, every pressure. Theyve got the whole gambit and they let you see it. So in that in sense, its great work for us. Weve got to get better though, better than we were the last two days at least.

Q: Hows the passing game progressed since training camp began?

I feel like weve had a good camp. Obviously, I feel like everybody on offense has really zoned in on the last two days and made a lot of emphasis of it, and it hasnt been good enough. Prior to that, I feel like we got off to a good start. In the passing game especially been doing some good things. This is situational football. The last two days has been heavy red zone and like I said, its a tough opponent but weve got to get better too.

Q: That first day of camp I raised the question of potentially having WR Michael Crabtree for the whole camp and here he hasnt been out there for a week. Does that set you and that combination back?

At this point, not worried about it. He had such a great spring and summer. I dont know when hes going to be back, but well look forward to his return. Hopefully its not too long. I know I feel good about what he got done this off-season. Its a long camp. I feel like hell get back and get some good work in.

Q: What are your thoughts on DT Ray McDonald? He was riding the bench for a while, now hes getting his chance and playing really well. To what degree have you seen over time his confidence grown both off the field and in the locker room?
I feel like that entire D-Line just feeds off each other, highly competitive group. They do everything together. They compete with each other at everything. Whether theyre in the weight room squatting or out there on the field, whos making plays and whos not on game day as well. Theyre a fun group. Its infectious and I think it rubs off on each other. Rays a big part of that. You see hes a big time player, really coming into his own as a player. No question when you do that, it creeps in and you get confidence as a teammate and leader.

Q: You of all people must be happy that the radio system is new this year?

Yeah, hopefully its better than the last couple years.

Q: Could you tell any difference today?

It does seem better. Its clearer off the bat, comes in better. The last couple years it always seems like we never really had many problems on the practice field. Its not until you get to the stadium that for some reason it doesnt seem to work as well. Hopefully this one does better up at The Stick.

Q: Did you guys ever suspect that it was a home cooking type of thing where the visiting team would always have something weird?

Yeah, but itd even happen at home sometimes. It just seemed like it was a touchy deal. Go in and out. For sure on the road it seemed like it would happen more often, but it would happen at home too. You expect more when you come in as a rookie, youre thinking this is going to be some crazy high-tech stuff and then you actually look in the helmet and its not. Youve got like AAA batteries sitting in there.

Q: When you talk to Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, those other guys do they have the same problem?
I think the headset problem is universal across the NFL. I think every quarterback has dealt with it and you have problems. Youve got to have a plan ready, a Plan B, what youre going to do.

Q: And how many times have you had to hear half the call and then make up the rest?

That happens quite a bit. Sometimes no call at all and you just got to go with something. Sometimes it goes out. We were very proactive here especially last year with the backup system. With the wristband it makes it easier using signals and things like that we can get a play in.

Q: Whats your perspective on where WR A.J. Jenkins is as far as his progress?
I feel like hes coming along just great. I think a lot got made of his offseason which is tough. I mean as a rookie the expectation level is nothing, to come in in an offseason and expect something. I think hes in a great place. Hes got a lot of guys to learn from, a lot of guys that have played a lot of football, guys that all have different strengths. He can watch them play and see how they win. How they play to their strengths. Watch how professional they are. I think hes in a great place, a great place to just steadily keep improving. I think hes going to be just fine. No question about his talent. I think the big thing obviously is the playbook size is just so much different than the college level, run and pass, and just continuing to learn it and the details of it.

Q: What is his talent level? What does he do that distinguishes him?

I think hes a guy that can just about do everything. I think the thing that really distinguishes him is you just see the natural, I dont know if you want to call it foot talent, speed, in and out of cuts, that type of stuff. You see him in and out of breaks and you can see it there. The separation he can get, it just comes natural. Especially coming out sideways, breaking down, getting in and out of cuts, things like that. He has a great feel, great body language. I think its something that is one of his strengths.

Q: RB Brandon Jacobs was saying hes lost 15 pounds since the spring, he still looks fairly large, can you tell if the guys changed his body?

Yeah, I can. I dont think hell ever not look large. But no question, I do feel I can tell hes slimmed down since the first day I saw him. In a good way. I feel like he looks really good. I know from the little bit Ive heard talking to him, I know he really likes whats going on in our weight room and conditioning and stuff like that and has really taken to it. I think he looks great.

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.”