Alex Smith and the deep ball: 'It's a fine line'

October 3, 2012, 8:46 pm
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SANTA CLARA -- Quarterback Alex Smith threw more passes of over 20 yards Sunday against the New York Jets than he attempted in the 49ers' first three games combined."It's funny -- you hate saying this -- but some days you hit all of them and some days you don't," Smith said on Wednesday."It's kind of like that with the long ball sometimes. It's such a fine line and they're not high-percentage throws. But, for sure, the more you do it, the better you get."Smith completed two of his six attempts for 51 yards, according to statistics supplied by Pro Football Focus, on deep throws Sunday in the 49ers' 34-0 victory over the New York Jets. Two of his deep passes for Mario Manningham were long. Manningham also caught a 26-yard pass from Smith in the first quarter.Smith said his first overthrow to Manningham was too flat. The second one, Smith said was a matter of about 6 inches too long -- "a fine line," he called it. In both cases, Manningham's progress on the route appeared to be impeded by Jets cornerback Kyle Wilson."It certainly affects it when you're getting held out there, as far as throwing the ball down the field," Smith said. "I'm not throwing to a spot, blindly. You're looking at the receiver, trying to get a feel for his angle, his speed and trying to hit him running."According to PFF, Smith is 5 of 10 on passes that travel more than 20 yards for 114 yards and one touchdown. He and tight end Vernon Davis have not seemed to have any problems connecting on the deep ball.RELATED: Alex Smith career stats 2012 game logs
"It's something he and I have a lot of work on," Smith said. "We've worked on it a lot over the years. He's someone I feel extremely comfortable with, letting he ball go. We have a good relationship. (I) definitely feel comfortable there, and getting there with the other guys."Smith said he generally made all the right decisions against a Jets defense that was taking away some of the underneath routes. After reviewing the film he felt secure with his decision-making."Sunday I thought I saw everything well," he said. "There wasn't much when I turned on the tape that surprised me."Really, a couple deep shots we had, just wish we could've hit them. We were close on all of them. And it's a fine line between hitting those and not."Smith spent time in Southern California before the start of the 49ers' offseason program working on his mechanics with former major league pitching coach Tom House. Now, he said his concentration is more on the week-to-week preparations to face the upcoming opponent.REWIND: Alex Smith enlists help from unlikely coach
When asked how his mechanics are holding up, Smith said, "I feel good. At this point, it's not something I'm thinking a lot about. I feel healthy. I feel really good. (My) shoulder feels great. My body feels good. That's the most important thing."Smith, who completed 61.3 percent of his passes a year ago during his best NFL season, has opened this season with a 67.3 accuracy rate through the first four games. His passer rating stands at 98.1."There's always room for improvement," Smith said. "You only seem to be as happy as your last game. As a quarterback, it's always, 'I could've done better' or 'What are the throws I could've made or what could I've done differently.'

"The bottom line is getting the win. Obviously, it was a great win (against the Jets). Looking to get better and move on toward the Bills."

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