Alex Smith ready to show lockout helped him, 49ers
AP Sports Writer
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – Camp Alex II is officially over.
Nobody knows for certain when the San Francisco 49ers will begin training camp. Or if Alex Smith can be as successful of a quarterback this fall as he has been this summer.
The 49ers’ former and apparently future quarterback ended his final scheduled informal team workout Friday. After organizing two separate four-day mini-camps at San Jose State that included most of the offensive players, Smith said he has installed about as much of new coach Jim Harbaugh’s West Coast system as he can this summer.
All he can do now is wait for the NFL lockout to end so he can show how much the workouts really accomplished.
“I know what I installed and everything I basically threw at the wall. I don’t know how much of it stuck to the wall,” said Smith, a free agent expected to re-sign with the team. “And I think that’s going to be the test when these guys come back, whenever this thing ends, how much of it stuck.”
At the very least, Smith believes the workouts have put the 49ers in a better position.
San Francisco has among the most to lose the deeper the labor disagreement goes, with so much under Harbaugh that is unknown and unsettled. Smith spent just a few hours with Harbaugh and his staff when the lockout was briefly lifted, leaving the team’s headquarters with boxes of game highlights and a playbook.
Smith studied the information and relayed that to his teammates during classroom sessions he taught on a drawing board. He even quizzed them when it was over and awarded undisclosed prizes, revealing only that receiver Kevin Jurovich left happiest.
The two dozen or so players at most of the workouts – which was down to 10 offensive players on the last day because of the upcoming holiday weekend – also went into Spartan Stadium for about 90 minutes to run plays each day led by Smith.
“I got put in a position where I just kind of felt like I needed to do it,” he said. “All of a sudden, I didn’t know how long the lockout was going to go, as it got longer and longer, more and more I felt like we were behind the eight ball and needed to do something.”
That leadership quality has been sorely missing from San Francisco’s quarterback.
The 49ers haven’t had a winning season or reached the playoffs since 2002, and inconsistency at the position might be the biggest reason why. With the exception of receiver Michael Crabtree, who has openly questioned whether Smith is the presumed starter, players at the workouts have said all the right things about Smith.
There’s still little from his past play to suggest he will be the franchise’s long-term solution, and the presence of second-round pick Colin Kaepernick figures to ignite the fan pessimism that revolves around Smith the first time the 2005 No. 1 overall pick throws an interception.
Smith will be the first to admit the workouts he organized will be meaningless if he can’t finally deliver consistently when it counts. The only action from this summer Harbaugh will see will be on video from the workouts Smith taped. The rest will be up to the quarterback to prove in front of the new coach.
Smith is flirting with the idea of holding another mini-camp or even a larger session to mimic training camp if the lockout persists into late July. With so many free agents on the defensive side, Smith isn’t sure he could find 11 players to fill out a roster – and he wouldn’t hold contact drills anyway for fear of injuries.
Smith and others will continue to lift weights and exercise at San Jose State in smaller groups in the coming weeks, waiting to find out when training camp begins – and if Smith can be as accomplished a quarterback against an NFL defense.
“I would feel pretty good at this point if training camp started,” Smith said. “Training camp is where the bulk of the work comes in anyway. You love the offseason program, but I think it serves as the same type of thing. It’s an introduction to this stuff. The real football starts in training camp.”