Alex speaks out

Will Alex Smith have to re-invent himself as a QB to play again for the 49ers? Will he even still be part of the team in 2009 and beyond? Though he's been on IR since the first week of the season, Smith has remained close to the team while conducting his rehab, and on Thursday he broke his silence to talk about how things have changed with him and the 49ers since his season-ending shoulder injury.

Q: Does what has happened around here over the past couple of months make you feel better about coming back and being part of the future here?
Smith:
Obviously, not much has changed, just working towards getting healthy and I've tried to stay focused on that because that's my job right now. I can't do much else so it's kind of my job to get as healthy as possible and dedicate everything I have to that. Doing my rehab, being responsible with everything I have to do and trying to stay focused on that.

Q: The reference is that the former head coach, he'd occasionally take a few more jabs, seemingly directed at you. Do you think that will help you if you want to stay here long term?
Smith:
I don't know, obviously it's going to depend on how things shake out around here, no matter what happens. Then obviously, what happens then in these coming months, that will dictate a lot of things, but as far as things changing for me, I haven't been able to do much since the injury, so things haven't changed much in that respect for me at least.

Q: What is your relationship like with Mike Singletary? Does he ever talk to you?
Smith:
Good, yeah, yeah. Absolutely. I see him around when I'm doing my lifting or doing my rehabbing and all my stuff so absolutely I talk to him when I can. It's hard as a player on IR [Injured Reserve]. I'd like to be around as much as I can and doing everything that I can, but to a certain extent, all of these guys have a lot bigger job at hand and time constraints, things like that. So you get to be a distraction at the same time, so I think things, obviously things that you do maybe can be put off until after the season when they are pertinent, when right now it's directed at trying to beat St. Louis.

Q: Why did you make it a point to want to stay here during your rehab?
Smith:
I think just doing it right. I think it all goes back to that. Finishing things. The same thing I've been taught since I was a little kid. Not doing anything half-assed. Just getting everything done, doing it right and working hard, and achieving a goal. I came here to be a great player and to accomplish that. Obviously I've had some setbacks and some things got in the way. I'm working my way around them. Get back out here. I think that's something that really inspires me. That really gets me going. I think it's easy to look at some alternative choices. It's easy to take those. I just feel that the right thing, if I can, is doing it the right way.

Q: Given the way that things have shaken down, would you consider not doing that?
Smith:
Obviously, I've got some more time on my hands now and I'm left to think about things. As much as I can now, it's all speculation. It's all speculation at this point. For me, like I said, I've tried to stay focused on doing what I can and that's getting healthy. That time will come soon enough when I have to deal with that stuff.

Q: Do you think that will pretty much hinge on the direction the team goes?
Smith:
I think. I guess that's what I think. I think everything will start from there.

Q: You'll be asked to make some sacrifices as well.
Smith:
Potentially. Absolutely. I mean, yes.

Q: Is that something you'll be willing to do?
Smith:
Absolutely. You know, absolutely.

Q: Do you think that in any way shape or form that you'll have to reinvent yourself as a quarterback?
Smith:
I think you learn from things you've gone through, so I don't know if it's necessarily reinventing myself. I think I'm constantly trying to become better, trying to constantly reevaluate things. I'm far different than I was four years ago in a lot of ways. Obviously, going through what I've gone through. Different appreciation for things, different outlook on things. Greater understanding of the game at this level, at the NFL level. What it takes. What it takes to play quarterback at this level. I think it's not necessarily reinventing, but changing. I think you always need to be involved in trying to get better and trying to improve.

Q: Do you feel like you have to change? Because through two years, you looked like the quarterback who was on the right path. Then the last two years you were injured.
Smith:
I think it's as much as trying to let that shine through. I really feel like I haven't had that chance to let that shine through. I've been kind of blocked out by injuries and not being able to be on the field and play and take those steps. I think it's that as much as anything, is really trying to show my true colors, so to speak. As much as anything. I do think I am constantly trying to learn. I think I was naïve in some ways as a rookie when I came into this league about the game and different things, a lot of different aspects. In that way, I think I've become better.

Q: If you had the opportunity to work with Norv Turner again, how attractive would that be?
Smith:
Obviously Norv [Turner] and I got along great when he was here, and we still get along well. [We] have a great relationship. But that's something I'm not thinking about right now, see if I had a chance to do a great thing. There's a lot of great coordinators out there.

Q: Do you think it would be hard to reinvent yourself here?
Smith:
It would be harder, absolutely. Without a doubt.

Q: Because of the fans' perceptions?
Smith:
I think everything. When you come with that kind of expectation, it's frustrating for me that it hasn't come to fruition. Obviously with the fans as well, kind of part of the territory. I absolutely think it might be harder.

Q: Is that a challenge you might embrace?
Smith:
It is. It is. At the same time, I think it would be difficult. I think it will. I think it is something that kind of gets me going – you start to get that chip on your shoulder, trying to prove everybody wrong.

Q:As an observer, how has the culture changed here since Mike Singletary's taken over? What have you observed kind of as an outsider looking in?
Smith:
It is difficult because I am a little more of the outside looking in, in that sense. I think Coach Singletary is doing a great job of eliminating grey, if that makes sense. He's done a great job of… players have a better understanding of what they're being asked and what they're responsible for, and what's expected of them. In that sense, there's less grey. He's made that much more black and white. Guys are a little more sure of what's expected out of them, what their responsibilities are, what their job is and what they have to go do. And that gets told to them pretty often by Coach Singletary, so I think that's a good thing. I think guys feel more comfortable with that when they know what they have to do instead of always wondering. That might sound odd considering we're playing football, but I think that's a very good thing.

Q: The word ‘continuity' always seems to come up as far as what this team's problem has been the last few years. Singletary is not an offensive coach. Is there concern as a quarterback if he were head coach that that lack of continuity on offense might continue?
Smith:
Not necessarily. There's a lot of things I think you could point to. The fact that we've had four coordinators in four years doesn't help the consistency, and the turnover we've had on the offensive side of the ball, that all doesn't help. The number of quarterbacks we've had play here in the four years I've been here is pretty high. I don't think that helps. So there's a lot of things. Obviously it is different when there's a defensive head coach and you're on the offensive side of the ball. Like I said, though, I don't have much experience playing for Singletary. I've been more an observer. Like I said, though, the great thing is he seems to set an expectation and try to hold guys to that, which is a good thing. Like I said, not quite sure. I haven't experienced it, so.

Q: What have you been told about your shoulder getting 100 percent healthy?
Smith:
From everything that I understand and have been told, that long term there will be no issues. There will be no difference from where I was before with the back-to-back injuries. The nice thing, from what I understand – I'm obviously not a doctor, it's not actually my shoulder joint, and obviously it's inside of that, it has more to do with my collar bone. That's what I've been told.

Q: Was there a screw-up in your first procedure that caused that to happen again? Maybe screw-up's a little strong, but were things that didn't go the way they should have?
Smith:
I think it was a freak deal that happened. It's a procedure that is not uncommon at all. In fact, I think it's something that is a fairly common procedure actually. I think kind of a freak deal potentially combined with my throwing motion, repetitions of throwing that eventually led to that.

Q: Did you come back too hard too quickly?
Smith:
I don't think so. It's not like this was new territory, new ground we were covering, with the rehab and where I was at. Like I said, many guys before me, many quarterbacks before me, had kind of set the path and we were just following it along and I think just kind of a freak thing that happened to me. A really freak thing from what I understand as far as statistics go.

Q: How far are you along in terms of throwing a football?
Smith:
I have not thrown a football yet. I definitely could be at this point. I think it's a matter of, there's no huge rush for me. At the same point, obviously, don't want to put it off to long. But, at this point, just continuing to strengthen, do my rehab, get stronger with that so when the throwing comes along, that part of the rehab will go by much faster I think.

Q: Do you expect in spring camp to be able to go?
Smith:
Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, Definitely. I think I'll start throwing here after Christmas, New Years. Fully expect to be healthy come camp – mini camp and Spring camp that is.

Q: There's been some shots taken at you, are you aware of those?
Smith:
Very little. I've kind of heard some different things.

Q: Is that confusing to you?
Smith:
It is. I guess I'm not quite sure what shots you're referring to.

Q: There was an Antonio Bryant story …
Smith:
Yeah. I don't even know. It's not even pertinent probably to comment on it. It was news to me. I guess I'll say that. Definitely news to me.



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