Smith's skills scrutinized during private workout

The 49ers got a true read on Utah quarterback Alex Smith on Tuesday. Taking him out of the sanitary confines presented by his indoor Pro Day workout last month, the Niners took Smith outside for a private workout in Salt Lake City and encouraged him to let if fly to a group of receivers he'll be working with if the Niners indeed pick Smith in the first round of the NFL draft later this month. But that certainly is in question after the Niners "created a lot of adversity" for Smith this time.

As coach Mike Nolan said after Tuesday's workout, which was conducted under the supervision of Nolan, 49ers personnel chief Scot McCloughan, offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy and quarterbacks coach Jim Hostler, "We created a lot of adversity for the player today that was not the way it was in the first workout."

Though Smith received generally rave reviews after that first workout – he received an ovation at the end of his Pro Day on March 16 from more than 100 representatives from all 32 NFL teams that attended at the indoor D. Glen Smith Center – the 49ers came away from that event with several questions unanswered about Smith's skills and his readiness for a pro-style offense. Smith worked out of the shotgun predominantly during his time in college.

"He had to come from under center today, he had to throw to receivers he doesn't normally throw to and he had to be asked to do some things from a coach that he hadn't done in college," Nolan said. "They tried to simulate those things inside last time with the exception of taking snaps under center. But again, this was much truer to form."

Even the wind picked up during the workout, Nolan said, which gave the Niners another measure of Smith's arm strength, since he'll certainly be operating under windy conditions should he be playing quarterback in San Francisco.

The Niners brought along veteran receivers Arnaz Battle and Brandon Lloyd – the starters on the team's depth chart at the moment – to be Smith's targets during the workout. Nolan indicated that was because the team couldn't find or use certain receivers in Utah, but the Niners surely wanted to see what Smith could do working with pro talent he might not be familiar with.

Nolan said Smith "looked good," but the coach stopped short of a rave review this time with somewhat halting praise.

"He did a good job," Nolan said. "It's still a little form, but he looks good. He's an athlete and he's athletic. From a timing standpoint, it was the complete environment that we wanted to create."

Nolan said the Niners will have Smith in for a visit to team headquarters sometime next week, when the team also has visits planned with Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards and Miami cornerback Antrel Rolle.


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