Killion: Smith grooming Kaepernick for 49ers


Killion: Smith grooming Kaepernick for 49ers

June 30, 2011

Ann Killion
CSNBayArea.comIts a fascinating exercise in human behavior thats been going on at San Jose State. No matter what some cynical observers think (and that includes you Senior Insider Ratto).The 49ers players, working without paychecks or perks, are trying to get ready for the season. Thats not something we see often in modern sports.Alex Smith is the de facto coach, giving orders and taking charge in one last gasp bid to become the 49ers leader. This is a new, changed Smith. Even Vernon Davis says its a new look for his teammate.VIDEO: Vernon Davis on Chronicle Live
Hes really being a leader out there, Davis told Chronicle Live this week. Thats what Alex shouldve been doing but it takes time for some guys to get to where you need to be.But the most interesting thing is that Smith is also helping Colin Kaepernick the young quarterback who fans are already swooning over get ready to take his job away. Hes doing everything he can to help Kaepernick prepare for the NFL and become the 49ers' starting quarterback.Its not awkward at all, Kaepernick said when I talked to him a few days after the first Camp Alex. Alex is a great guy. Hes said, If I can help you with anything just let me know. Hes been very welcoming and its a good relationship. The situation were in doesnt have to define the relationship we have with each other.Kaepernick, and all the rookies, are in a strange spot. Theyre unable to talk to their new bosses and their first taste of the NFL is coming in do-it-yourself practices at a college facility.MAIOCCO: Smith takes charge at Camp Alex
Its a very odd situation, he said. But at the same time being a rookie dont know what normal situation is. Right now, its not too different from what Im used to coming from college.Kaepernick, finally cleared to play after his mysterious procedure on his left leg (something he declines to talk about), was out there this week. He opted to work with his new teammates rather than go to this weeks rookie symposium in Florida.Thats not surprising if you know Kaepernicks background. Before his senior year in college, the Chicago Cubs offered Kaepernick -- who had been an outstanding high school pitcher -- 30,000 to spend a month throwing bullpen sessions in Arizona so they could check out his arm. Thats a lot of money for a college kid to turn down, but Kaepernick knew he couldnt be away from his teammates.As the quarterback you cant leave your team a month before you go into camp, he said.That same lesson applies now.Coach Jim Harbaugh is following along with the players activities as best he can through the media. Though hed obviously rather have the team participating in organized team activities at the 49ers facility, hes encouraged by what hes seeing. Not just the action but also the motivation behind it.These guys love football and theyre committed to getting in great shape and planning for the future, he said. I think its beneficial for all of them. The players have to organize things, find the field, get the balls, figure out whos doing what, whos responsible for what, what plays are they going to run.I wonder how often this generation of men have had to do that growing up, he added. They were probably over-supervised and over-committed as youngsters.Taking ownership of the team and their own future cant be a bad thing, especially for a group of players who were too often treated like children by Mike Singletary.All the 49ers are starting from scratch, which means that Kaepernick and Smith are dead even when it comes to knowledge of Harbaughs offense.Its a little bit of a good thing in terms of trying to compete for a starting spot, Kaepernick said. But overall its not the best situation because you want to make sure youre doing things the right way, the way the coaches want. But Alex has done a great job translating things to the best of his knowledge.The player with the most insight into Harbaughs system is just up the road at Stanford. Though there were reports that Kaepernick was relying on Andrew Luck for information, Kaepernick said those were blown way out of proportion. He and Luck became friends last summer at the Manning Passing Academy but Luck hasnt been a source of information.We just had a quick conversation, Kaepernick said.For now, Kaepernick is relying on the man he wants to replace.Clearly, the best thing Harbaugh did during his window of contact in early May was give Smith the playbook. Smith has been through six offensive coordinators in his six years with the 49ers, so he knows a little something about installing an offense and trying to translate it. And as a rookie Smith was the beneficiary of a willing mentor in Trent Dilfer so he knows the importance of helping a younger player.Smith may never be the player he was drafted to be. But hes becoming a heck of a coach.And this may end up being Smiths greatest contribution to the 49ers: grooming his replacement.

49ers release Ian Williams

49ers release Ian Williams

The 49ers on Thursday released nose tackle Ian Williams off the reserve/non-football injury list with an injury settlement.

The move, which was disclosed on the NFL, daily transaction report, is a procedural move, according to sources. It allows the 49ers to provide Williams with more compensation than he would have received if he had remained on reserve/non-football injury for the entire season. The move does not preclude the 49ers from re-signing Williams in the future.

The 49ers originally agreed to a five-year contract extension with Williams in the offseason. However, the contract was amended to a one-year deal after he underwent a team physical after undergoing surgery on his left leg.

Williams, 26, is a five-year NFL veteran. He originally signed with the 49ers as an undrafted rookie from Notre Dame in 2011.

He played his first 16-game season in 2015. He ranked third on the 49ers with 85 total tackles, according to the stats compiled by the coaching staff.

Williams took over as the 49ers’ starting nose tackle in 2013 after the free-agent departure of Isaac Sopoaga.

But he started just 10 games over the next two seasons due to two fractures of his lower leg.

Chip Kelly reveals why 49ers going with slower-paced offense

Chip Kelly reveals why 49ers going with slower-paced offense

Chip Kelly's offense with the 49ers is his slowest-paced version of his four NFL seasons.


“I think that’s what fits with this group of guys we have on the offensive side of the ball,” Kelly said this week.

Kelly did not expound on that thought. But it could be safe to assume his thinking is the same reason why it does not make sense to enter a Ford Pinto to race against pro stock dragsters.

The 49ers’ offense is running more plays this season. The 49ers snap the ball every 24.4 seconds on offense. That’s down from 26.1 seconds last season, and 29.7 seconds in Jim Harbaugh’s final season in 2014.

Last season in Philadelphia, Kelly’s team snapped the ball every 22.6 seconds. In Kelly’s final season at Oregon in 2012, the Ducks snapped the ball every 20.5 seconds.

“I don’t think we’re playing fast right now,” Kelly said. “So if someone said, ‘How are you playing offensively?’ I don’t think we’re playing fast offensively. I think we’re just not going back (to huddle). We’re saving seven yards of run time for our offensive line because they don’t have to run back in the huddle, get a play called and then do it.

“We’re just calling it at the line of scrimmage. So I think it’s a lot of what Denver used to do when Peyton (Manning) was there. But there’s a lot of times that we’re under 15 seconds when we’re snapping the ball and getting the play off. So we’re not playing fast and we’re not calling tempo-type plays in those situations. We’re just calling plays.”

Kelly said part of the problem is that the 49ers are not converting third downs. The team has a 36.3 percent success rate on third downs, which is actually an improvement over the 30.5 percent success of last season.

But the 49ers’ overall lack of offensive success this season cannot be camouflaged.

The 49ers are averaging just 4.5 yards per play. The 49ers have not averaged fewer than 5 yards per play since 2007, when Alex Smith sustained a shoulder injury and was replaced by Trent Dilfer.

While the 49ers are running more offensive plays than it has in the past, so is the opposition. The 49ers have averaged 64.3 plays per game. The 49ers have defended 69.9 plays per game – only 2.3 more plays than last season but 8.1 more plays than in 2014.

The biggest problem for the offense has been its run defense. The league’s worst run defense has surrendered 185.1 yards per game and is on pace to give up 2,962 yards this season, which would be the most in the NFL since the 1980 New Orleans Saints yielded 3,106 rushing yards.