The Alex update

Alex Smith talks about comparisons to Steve Young, the starting quarterback job and a variety of other subjects Thursday at 49ers training camp.

Q: With Steve Young going into the Hall of Fame this weekend, is he one of the quarterbacks that you grew up watching?

Smith: Absolutely. The guy I grew up watching and following was Steve Young. I admired him a lot. He's one of my favorite quarterbacks. He plays with his feet and he plays with his arms. Gutsy, he wasn't really afraid. He didn't back down. He wasn't a guy that was going to slide. He's one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, and he deserves (to be in the Hall). I look up to him.

Q: Do you see some of his game in your game?

Smith: Definitely a little bit. I'd like to be as athletic as he was, and I like to think I am, but you have to prove that. But he was a guy who got it done. Obviously, he was in the shadow of Montana and that stuff, and then he won that Super Bowl and did get the monkey off his back. People talk about the legacy, he's the guy that carried it on.

Q: When you hear Tittle, Brodie, Montana, Young, Smith … When people talk in those kind of terms, what do you think?

Smith: It makes me smile. It's exciting to me. Very exciting. It's a big opportunity for me. I couldn't ask to be in a better place. To come to a team like this. To come to an organization like this. Playing quarterback with this tradition here. For a chance to get us back where we belong, back winning Super Bowls, and potentially get my name next to those four, it excites me. So, I look forward to it, and it's the next many years of my life to get that done.

Q: How much do you consider running a part of your game, and how much can you do that at this level?

Smith: That should be a part of any quarterback's game, I think. You're going to have to do it, I don't care who you are. There's going to be times when you have to make plays on your feet. And whether that's getting out of a tackle and throwing a ball away, or running down field for 20 yards, those are both plays that are being made with your feet. That's something that I think I need to do and keep looking to do.

Q: Do you have a little extra gear when you get outside and cut upfield?

Smith: I like to think so. But this is another level. Everyone's got an extra gear. So, we'll see. Obviously, we're not going live, so it's hard to tell. But I'll get that first taste when we get to playing in the preseason.

Q: In that regard, what are your expectations for the upcoming team scrimmage on Saturday?

Smith: The same as always. You can't forget that we go live every day out here. So it's not going to be much different. Obviously, it will be a little more extended. But I'm looking to do the same things. You know, be smart. Make a decision, that's the first thing. If I can make some plays, that will be nice. But I want to be mistake-free, stay within myself and not try to do too much.

Q: You've been taking a wait-and-see approach since you got here. Are you starting to feel like the starting quarterback of this team right about now?

Smith: You know what? I'm getting a lot of reps, which is nice, and it's giving me an opportunity to show … to really put in time with the team and with the guys, to show them that I want to be here, that I'm gong to work hard for this. And I think right now, they respect a lot of us quarterbacks. They respect Tim (Rattay), obviously. He's been around, and he's proven to a lot of them what he's accomplished. And the nice thing is, I'm getting a chance to do the same thing. I'm definitely feeling a little more of a presence, a little more a part of the team now. As far as starting quarterback … Preseason is going to be the biggest thing. You know, how you do in games. Practice is one thing, but I'm going to have to show I can do this in a game.

Q: Even though you haven't played your first game yet, has the coaching staff had a talk with you about sliding?

Smith: We've talked about getting down. And if there's a first down on the line, and it's a close game, I think you get it. And I think the coaches understand that. If it's preseason, and you're learning, and you're up, you're winning, you get down, you don't take those hits. I think there's circumstances for all situations. You just try to communicate, understanding what the situation is and what should be done.

Q: Did you ever slide in college at Utah?

Smith: I think twice in my entire career. But you can get out of bounds. I think there's many different ways to take a hit also.

Q: What's been the most difficult thing to deal with in the first week of camp?

Smith: I think, physically, it's very similar to college two-a-days in camp, as far as the quarterback position. But, not getting into your room until 11 at night is very different. And going to sleep and waking up early the next morning and doing it over again. There's not nearly as much down time, and that's something I've had to get used to. I think you have stay a little more even keel. I think college is a little more up and down.

Q: How do you think your teammates have responded to you, both inside and outside the huddle?

Smith: I think it gets better and better the more I'm around them and the more I say, the more I show how much this means to me, that I want this and I'm going to work for it. I might not play very good every day, but I show them that it gets me upset when I don't play well that I want this, that it means a lot to me, that I put in the time, that I go through two-a-days with them. It's just something that I think that's going to bring this team really close when you go through something like this, especially with this new coaching staff. It's going to bring this team together.

Q: How do you feel about the chemistry you've been developing so far with the receivers so far?

Smith: I feel great about it. I can't say enough about how hard those guys work. They put in so much time. We throw so many routes each day. They work tremendously hard and they deserve a lot of credit. I'm excited to see what they're going to do this year. It's great to be able to throw routes because I feel like the chemistry between the quarterbacks and receivers is getting better.


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