Smith starts over with a new fresh start


Smith starts over with a new fresh start

SAN FRANCISCO -- A year ago at this time, all Alex Smith wanted was a fresh start.Coach Jim Harbaugh was settling into his new job with the 49ers. And he began studying Smith, the team's harshly criticized quarterback, with an open mind.Smith, by the way, had already decided he needed to go somewhere -- anywhere -- after six unproductive years with the 49ers."I wanted to get to know him," Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh got to know Smith as much as possible -- as a person and as a player -- without completely obliterating NFL rules. He took him out on the practice field behind the 49ers team offices and they threw the ball around. They talked. They worked on mechanics. They developed a mutual trust."The things I wanted to know, boiled it down to one thing," Harbaugh said. "Did he want to start? Did he want to be in the fire? Or did he want to wear the ball cap backwards and backup somewhere?"In other words, was Smith content being a backup just to leave the pressure of playing for the 49ers, the team that selected him No. 1 overall in the 2005 draft? In 2010, Smith could not escape the loudest boos of his career from the fans at Candlestick Park.It would've been easy for him to leave the boos behind.It was the expected move. And nobody would've blamed him for escaping as quickly as possible an organization that provided defensive-minded head coaches and a new coordinator every season.
But Alex Smith choose to remain."That character of wanting to come back and do it here in San Francisco, which is pretty rare," Harbaugh said. "Probably somewhere between rare and extinct, not just for football players but for just about anybody. Most guys would say, 'The heck with that; I've had enough, time for a fresh start somewhere else.' And I thought we could really work with that kid. To me that was special."It was also a unique offseason all around football. The lockout lifted for one day because of conflicting court orders. But that one day window enabled Smith, unsigned at the time, to spend an entire day at the 49ers' offices gathering information about the 49ers' new offense.A month later, after sufficiently studying playbook, game film and PowerPoint material, Smith began teaching it to his teammates and organized two weeks of offensive get-togethers at San Jose State, known as "Camp Alex."His place as a leader was cemented during that time.Then, he went out and had the best season of is career, ranking ninth in the league with a 90.7 passer rating with 17 touchdowns and five interception. The 49ers offense tied an NFL record for fewest turnovers in a season, enabling the team to finish with a 13-3 record, an NFC West championship, and the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.And, now, it all comes down to this. Smith takes the field Saturday for his first NFL playoff game.Most of the attention and intrigue is on the other side of the ball with New Orleans' record-setting quarterback Drew Brees and the 49ers' defense -- a unit that surrendered just 87 points in eight home games this season.It's all but a foregone conclusion that Smith will be back with the 49ers next season regardless of how he fares in his first playoff game.Smith got the fresh start that he desired a year ago -- and he did not have to leave town to get it. And this playoff game gives him another chance to strike from the ledger all that happened in his first six forgettable seasons with the 49ers.

Report: Shanahan 'almost certain' to accept 49ers' offer

Report: Shanahan 'almost certain' to accept 49ers' offer

Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is reportedly “almost certain” to accept the 49ers’ offer to become head coach.

Shanahan is the lone remaining candidate among the six individuals who interviewed with 49ers executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe. The 49ers plan for a second interview with Shanahan and a job offer, a source told Shanahan is expected to accept the 49ers’ offer, reports Michael Silver of the NFL Network, citing sources familiar with both parties.

The 49ers continued to work Tuesday evening on the process of narrowing down the general manager choices, a source said. Shanahan is expected to play a role in the select the team’s next GM, sources said.

On Tuesday, Seattle offensive line coach Tom Cable and Seahawks co-director of player personnel Trent Kirchner removed their names from consideration for the vacant coach and general manager positions. The 49ers fired Chip Kelly and Trent Baalke after the 49ers' 2-14 season.

One source said Cable and Kirchner believed the 49ers were using them as leverage to hire Shanahan. Cable interviewed with 49ers co-chair Denise DeBartolo York over the phone on Tuesday, NFL Network reported.

The 49ers are allowed to interview Shanahan for a second time after the Falcons’ NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. The 49ers are prohibited from hiring or making a formal contract offer to Shanahan until the Falcons' season has concluded.

The top remaining candidates for the general manager job are believed to be Green Bay executives Brian Gutekunst and Eliot Wolf, Arizona's Terry McDonough and Minnesota's George Paton.

Source: 49ers plan second interview with Shanahan; Cable withdraws name

Source: 49ers plan second interview with Shanahan; Cable withdraws name

The 49ers will interview Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan after this weekend’s NFC Championship game, a source told on Tuesday.

The only remaining head-coach candidate, Tom Cable, formally withdrew from consideration, according to his agent, Doug Hendrickson. Cable interviewed with the 49ers on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the 49ers also have a general manager vacancy to fill. The team is in the process of narrowing down their list of eight candidates, a source said. Seattle’s Trent Kirchner pulled his name from consideration on Tuesday. The 49ers could have a round of second interviews for the GM job.

The 49ers fired coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke after the club finished the regular season with a 2-14 record.

The 49ers conducted their first interview with Shanahan on Jan. 6, as allowed by NFL rules, when the Falcons were on their bye in the first week of the playoffs as the NFC’s No. 2 seed.

The 49ers are allowed to conduct a second interview with Shanahan next week, regardless of whether the Falcons advance to the Super Bowl or their season comes to a conclusion against the Green Bay Packers.

If the Falcons advance to the Super Bowl, the 49ers would not be able to make a formal contract offer to Shanahan until following the Super Bowl.

Shanahan, 37, is the son for two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shanahan. He has served nine NFL seasons as an offensive coordinator. His offenses have ranked in the top-10 of total offense in six of those seasons.

Shanahan interviewed for the head-coaching vacancies with Jacksonville and Denver this offseason. Another scheduled interview with the Los Angeles Rams was canceled when Rams officials could not get to Atlanta due to weather conditions.