Can Smith shed struggles with strong finish?

"We've got two more games left in the season, crucial games. For this team and where we're at being so young, I think these games can make such a big difference heading into the end of this season and the offseason. People talk about the end of the year and how we're not going to the playoffs, but I think we need to take as much as we can from this situation. I know for myself, I really want to take these two games to learn as much as I can and make some strides." --- 49ers' rookie QB Alex Smith

Q: Where are you in your development and what are you looking to do?

Smith:
I guess I'm still in the same place, still plugging away. We've got two more games left in the season, crucial games. For this team and where we're at being so young, I think these games can make such a big difference heading into the end of this season and the offseason. Up until the start of next season, I'm looking to put as much time in as I can. People talk about the end of the year and how we're not going to the playoffs, but I think we need to take as much as we can from this situation. I know for myself, I really want to take these two games to learn as much as I can and make some strides.

Q: Do you feel like you took some steps in the Jacksonville game?

Smith:
Absolutely. Just in how comfortable I am seeing things, understanding what's going on around me and on the field with defenses and our offense, and the little things. Sometimes, it might not show up and sometimes they might, but I feel comfortable back there. I feel like every snap I get I'm learn something from, even out here on the practice field. I'm really trying to take advantage of the reps I'm getting now.

Q: Can you explain why the offense has struggled in the second half?

Smith:
I don't know if it's us getting out of rhythm, myself getting out of rhythm, or defenses making adjustments to us. It might be something as I continue to get better and continue to grow. Completing games and having this team finish to the end is something we're working for, and we're going to get there.

Q: Do you have to make pre-snap penalties an emphasis this week because St. Louis plays in a dome?

Smith:
I think any time we're playing on the road we try to have the noise out here (on the practice field) and make it a point to get a practice environment that simulates the game. Three games in a row have been on the road, so it's something we'll try to continue to eliminate and get better at.

Q: How did you feel when fans said it would be a good idea if you lost games on purpose?

Smith:
You hear things about Houston and different things about people not winning games at the end of the season, and you laugh at it as a player. Think about how much time that we put into this season. Even where we are today with two wins – and I think we can be better than that – to think about how much time we put in and to get where we are, thinking about throwing games or anything of that sort is kind of funny. We've invested so much of ourselves and our time, time away from our families and time away from everyone, and to just throw games away like that is a joke. We want to win just as much as any team around, and I think we're really trying for it. Especially with these two games left, we can really build some momentum into the offseason. We really want to finish this season on a better note, and we're going to attempt to do that this week.

Q: Why does the offense struggle in the second half?

Smith:
There's no excuse for it. Something we need to get better at is finishing, finishing in general, finishing at the end of games and finishing plays, especially as an offense. As a first-year offense, we're continuing to grow every week and every day. We're looking to finish, but it's nothing we can really put our finger on, and it's something I think we need to do a better job of.

Q: Do defenses make adjustments in the second half that cause you to struggle?

Smith:
I don't know what it is. Obviously defenses make adjustments as the game goes on, and as an offense you try to do the same. I don't know what it is, but it's something that we're looking to get fixed.

Q: Do you pay attention to the other rookies that came in with you and how are they doing?

Smith:
The thing I pay attention to the most, especially with my fellow classmates, is the attitude they bring in every day. I think that's the thing that is so nice with this class, the guys come to work and really enjoy football and really enjoy being here. They really want to get better, and you can see that. That's the refreshing thing: that guys are putting in the time and the work ethic, and they really want to get there.

Q: Are you surprised that so many of you guys are playing?

Smith:
I don't know if I'd say I'm surprised. This being the first time for me in everything, it's tough to be surprised anymore about anything. I look at it right now and realize what a big opportunity it is for us to really get something going. To have so many young guys, not just first-year, but second- and third-year guys, playing so much and getting such valuable experience, this is something I think this team really needs to take advantage of heading into the offseason because we are so young. This is the start of next season in some ways, so it's something we need to take advantage of.


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