Q: How important was it for you to get back to California?
Smith: That was the main priority.
Q: Why was that? Why was that important to you at this point in your career?
Smith: Well, if I was going to where I wanted to be, it was definitely going to be on the West Coast. I didn't want to necessarily go play in the snow somewhere else at the end of my career really.
Q: Marvel, have you always maintained a home here in the Bay Area?
Smith: I've actually lived in Southern California throughout my career. My whole family still lives in Oakland.
Q: How often do you make it back to Oakland?
Smith:I make it back every year. Normally, during the offseason I come back a few times just to visit family and friends.
Q: What was your family's reaction to the fact you were signing so close to home?
Smith: Everybody's really excited. I mean it's crazy how many phone calls I've been getting from people I haven't talked to in years, actually. I grew up in Oakland, so my family was all Raider fans growing up, but now they are all 49er fans now.
Q: The Raider fans when you were growing up, what did they think of the Niners in those days?
Smith: Back then it wasn't a situation that we rooted for the 49ers. Growing up I wasn't a 49er fan. I loved some of the players that they had, but I grew up in Oakland so at that time I was an Oakland Raiders fan when I was growing up, but that ended pretty much when I got drafted to the NFL.
Q: Give us an update on your back, the condition of your back.
Smith: I'm feeling good. I've been working out. I really haven't taken any time off, really since I had the surgery done during the season. Two weeks after the surgery I was working out and rehab, all that kind of stuff, so I'm pretty much past the rehab stage now. I'm just trying to ease into it instead of doing way too much. I feel like I could do everything without any problems or anything like that. All my workouts and stuff like that have been progressing well. I couldn't imagine anything going any better than it has been already.
Q: What exactly was done in the surgery?
Smith: I had a loose fragment from the disk that they went in and took out. They didn't touch anything structurally or whatever. Supposedly it's the most minor procedure you can have done on your back. So I noticed an instant improvement right away, even the same day when I was laying in the hospital.
Q: So it wasn't a bulging disk? It was just a fragment of the disk that was disconnected there?
Smith:Yeah, that's pretty much what it was.
Q: Do you feel confident then, that you can make it through a full season or the life of this contract and be healthy and play well enough that you can get another contract down the road?
Smith: I don't have any doubts about that at all. You know football is a contact sport and anybody playing, that is there job to stay healthy and to me it's almost a blessing in disguise that I've been through these situations before because I know how to handle it better now. Last year when I thought I felt good, I didn't really know because I was going through it for the first time. This time around it's like night and day because I feel a lot better than I thought I felt last year already.
Q: You played left tackle the previous few years. How would you feel about going over the right side?
Smith: I don't have a problem with it at all. Whatever's best for the team, really. I played right tackle my first three years in the league and I've got the whole offseason, really, to get back into the groove of playing on the right side. I don't really see it being that big of a deal, really.
Q: What's your take on this whole 49ers team after visiting and looking around? What do you know about this team? What do you like about it?
Smith: I just can't wait to get up there and get going with my teammates and all the staff and stuff like that. To me, it's a real young team that's on the verge of taking off and being one of the better teams in the league, and I definitely want to be a part of that. Everything it seems like they have set in place is geared towards being a physically dominant team on the field and that's the exact type of team I love playing for. Just to be out on the field and be physically dominating somebody, not necessarily just beating them or scoring more points, but if you can physically demoralize a team, that's the type of team I love playing for and that's the type of team Coach Singletary is getting put together.
Q: What's your take on meeting coach Singletary?
Smith: It's just as advertised. I'm looking forward to it. To me, he's the perfect type of coach to play for – somebody who's played in the NFL and did it at its highest level and he's been successful as a coach already. It's hard to find a coach with his qualities for the most part, and I'm looking forward to working with him.
Q: Before you were signed, there was a lot of talk out here about how the 49ers would use their draft pick at number 10. Certainly offensive tackle was one of the positions that people talked about. Do you care or would you be surprised if the 49ers did take a tackle at number 10? How much will you be watching that?
Smith: Doesn't matter to me at all. I don't have any control over any type of decisions like that. To me, competition is great. If it's something you want bad enough, it's worth fighting for. The biggest thing is for me to go out there and perform and do the things I know I can do. Outside of that, I don't worry about anything else.
Q: You have sort of an unusual pass protection stance. Is that as a result of the back or is that your natural stance?
Smith: No that's actually nothing to do with the back. I've had that stance really… I changed my stance three or four times throughout my career and I've pretty much been using that stance for the last five or six years. And it's worked perfect for me. I remember when I first started doing it a lot of my friends said I looked like I was out there praying because I hold my hands up in front of my face or whatever. It's perfect for me because I just got to keep my hand up in front of my face and stuff like that because to me pass-blocking is just like boxing. I've done a lot of boxing training in the offseason and it started correlating with it and I started using it in my stance. I feel like I'm a lot more explosive out of it.
Q: Why don't you think you went back to Pittsburgh?
Smith: That's the decision they made. The way I see it, they went and won the Super Bowl with the line that they had and it's a group of young guys that they feel they can build upon. Me personally, I don't know why they made the decision but, in my mind, the reason I just gave you is the reason why I think they made it. I'm actually glad not to be going back to tell you the truth because I couldn't see a situation better than the one I have right now.
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