Alex Smith throwing with better accuracy

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Alex Smith throwing with better accuracy

Programming note: Log on today at 12:45 p.m. to our live stream page for today's 49ers press conference from Santa Clara with OC Greg Roman, WR Michael Crabtree and CB Carlos Rogers!

SANTA CLARA -- Quarterback Alex Smith has looked good during the offseason months in previous years. But he has never looked quite like this.His strong training camp continued Tuesday with an outstanding start to the 49ers' three-hour practice. The only incomplete pass among his first 25 attempts came when his toss to Randy Moss, running the back line of the end zone, zipped through Moss' hands.RELATED: 49ers camp summary (814): Smith heats up, new depth chart
Smith's next two incomplete passes were deep attempts to tight end Vernon Davis late in practice. Three of Smith's final four attempts were incomplete -- no need to sound the alarm.Smith looks to be better at every aspect of his game. Obviously, with a year of experience working with Jim Harbaugh, Greg Roman and Geep Chryst, his knowledge of the system is better than ever.Examining him with the naked eye -- usually from a hundred yards away, where the media is stationed during practices -- it's impossible to pinpoint any dramatic mechanical differences. But the Alex Smith I've seen through 14 practices has been noticeably more accurate with his short, intermediate and deep passes. He also appears to be quicker with his decision-making.I'm not predicting a Pro Bowl season for Smith. But I am predicting the 49ers' passing game will be more formidable than a year ago when the team ranked 31st in the league in third-down conversions and 29th in passing yards.The 49ers have surrounded Smith with better options. As written and talked about after the 49ers' exhibition opener, look for the 49ers to use a lot more variety in the passing game. Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis are the team's top targets, and expect Randy Moss and Mario Manningham to share time as the Nos. 2 and 3 wideouts.Smith signed a three-year, 24 million contract in the offseason. His average salary places him in a tie with Matt Schaub for 18th-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. Schaub and Joe Flacco, whose contracts expire after this season, will likely bump Smith down to No. 20 next year.Once thought to be worth nowhere near the financial investment of the No. 1 overall pick, Smith could become one of the best bargain players in the NFL if his training camp carries over to the regular season.

Adam Gase offers advice to presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan

Adam Gase offers advice to presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan

Coach Adam Gase, a finalist for the 49ers’ head-coaching position two years ago, learned in his first season with the Miami Dolphins it is essential to have a solid staff around him in order to remain focused on calling plays.

Presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has spent the past nine NFL seasons as an offensive coordinator, including the past two with the Atlanta Falcons. His teams have ranked within the top-10 in total offense in six of those seasons. The Falcons play Sunday in the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers.

Shanahan’s knack for game-planning and play-calling are, perhaps, the biggest reasons the 49ers have tabbed him to become head coach. And he is not likely to delegate those duties when he becomes the man in charge on the sideline.

But Gase, speaking on “The 49ers Insider” podcast, noted the importance of being surrounded by a strong staff in order to continue to run his team’s offense.

“It really comes down to how good your coaching staff is around you and how good your support staff is and how you can manage the game during the game and still be able to call plays,” Gase said.

The Dolphins’ staff includes special-teams coordinator Darren Rizzi and his assistant, Marwan Maalouf, who have studied game management and are responsible for alerting Gase to impending in-game circumstances that require his attention. Rizzi is on the sideline during games, while Maalouf is located in the booth.

“They were staying one step ahead on things,” Gase said.

Gase and Shanahan have never worked together, but Gase said they have known each other for a long time because they are approximately the same age and came into the league around the same time.

“You see guys at the combine and the Senior Bowl," Gase said. "You’re at these functions and you see each other once or twice a year. And it’s always good catching up and getting a chance to talk football.

“We grew up in different styles of systems on offense, but at the end of the day, football is football, and there’s always great conversations to have. He’s really smart. . . (We’ve) crossed up a little bit, where he’s worked with certain guys I’ve worked with and vice versa. And I’ve heard nothing but great things about him, with what he knows football-wise and how he goes about his day-to-day activities and work ethic. All I’ve ever heard are great things about him.”

Shanahan is expected to be included in the 49ers' process of hiring a general manager. The 49ers this week informed four of the remaining eight candidates for the position they would not be included in a second round of interviews. That leaves Green Bay’s Brian Gutekunst and Eliot Wolf, Minnesota’s George Paton and Arizona’s Terry McDonough as those who are still under consideration.

When asked what advice he would give Shanahan, were he to officially become 49ers head coach, Gase said, “It’s all about communication.”

He added, “It’s all about that constant dialogue throughout the season. It’s really easy to get lost in doing your job as the head coach. But when you’re all invested in the same thing and you’re all striving to do the same thing and that communication is really rolling, that gives you your best chance to have success.

“It’s never guaranteed because there are so many factors that happen within the season with injuries and schedule and just all those little things you can’t predict, but when you have great communication and you’re all working toward the same thing, that’s going to give you your best chance.”

Jaguars retain offensive coordinator, pass on Chip Kelly

Jaguars retain offensive coordinator, pass on Chip Kelly

It appears the Jaguars have passed on Chip Kelly for a second time this month.

After reportedly not getting their head coaching job, Kelly reportedly interviewed for their offensive coordinator position on Monday.

But two days later, Jacksonville announced that Nathaniel Hackett has been retained as offensive coordinator under head coach Doug Marrone.

Kelly told CSNBayArea.com recently he would take his time to determine his next career move.

“I’m not going to close the door on any opportunity, but I have to be very smart in what I do next,” Kelly said two days after his firing. “I don’t have to take anything, but I wouldn’t rule anything out. I need to make sure that I’m in the right situation.

“I don’t know what the future holds. I’ll do my due diligence. I’m not going to coach just to coach.”

The 49ers fired Kelly with three years, $18 million remaining in his contract. The 49ers hired Kelly just two weeks after the Philadelphia Eagles fired him. Kelly went 26-21 with the Eagles after leaving his successful program with the Oregon Ducks after the 2012 season.