After a 6-10 season a year ago, the hiring of a new head coach, and a shortened offseason the possibility of the 49ers making a return trip to the playoffs for the first time in nine years seemed incredibly bleak. Not only did they make the playoffs, but the 49ers were just moments away from getting to the Super Bowl and turned in an incredible season. While the defense was dominant and had a lot to do with the team’s success as did the running game, Alex Smith’s transformation was this year was nothing short of sensational. After a rough start to his career and hearing the boo birds repeatedly, fans embraced Smith after his career year, but the questions still remain about his long-term ability, especially after the NFC Championship game.
Smith was not very good in the loss against the Giants and simply didn’t make enough plays to help his team win the game. With Smith a free agent this offseason, the 49ers ability to take the next step will hinge largely on the decision they make at quarterback this offseason.
Alex Smith joined 95.7 the Game in San Francisco with the Drive to talk about how he feels after a little time to reflect on the loss in the NFC Championship game, what he thinks about the lack of production by wide receivers in the game against New York, how tough the elements were to deal with, if he thinks the 49ers need to add a receiver this offseason to help the offense, and what he would think about San Francisco bringing in a big-name quarterback like Peyton Manning to push him.
How he feels after having a little bit of a time to reflect on the loss in the NFC Championship game:
“I got a little bit of sleep. I woke up at about 3:30 this morning just muttering every cuss word I knew to myself. It’s frustrating. You know to get that close and to taste it, to see it, I mean it was right there in front of you and to have a chance, multiple chances at winning and not getting it done, it’s definitely a bitter taste. Very, very bitter. It stings right now.”
On the lack of production by the wide receivers in the game against New York:
“Early we called some things for those guys outside and Michael ran a great slant route and it got batted down. That was early on. I had some opportunities early and then really through the flow of the game there weren’t a lot of primary concepts for those guys outside. Then when we did, for whatever reason, whether it was me or protection or something, we just couldn’t find a way to get it done. It kinda surprised me, all of the sudden after the game I didn’t even realize that Michael had only one catch. He’s a guy that had been so productive for us, especially the second half of the season. Just had been so stable and every week making plays and getting things done so it shocked me. I didn’t even realize that he only had one catch. Really those guys weren’t even targeted that much outside and the balls weren’t coming their way for whatever reason. I don’t know. I don’t know if there is any one thing to explain that. Obviously that’s an area we need to improve because there were times they were challenging us outside and we have to be able to take advantage.”
How tough the weather was to deal with:
“Actually I thought they did a great job with the turf. For it raining all week I thought the grass was in great shape. The elements were out on game day with the rain and wind and it was a typical playoff game at the Stick. You know when you look back at all those games, all those memorable playoff games that get played in January it was one of the classic ones weather-wise. You’ve got to deal with it. That’s what playing football in January is about. It’s about dealing with the elements. Unless you’re an indoor team you’re going to be dealing with it. Both teams did. Kind of rained off and on and we had to overcome that. It’s just dealing with the ball you know.”
If he would like the team to add some receivers this offseason:
“Not even thinking about that right now and it’s not my job. That’s something that the personnel department and coaches, that’s their job as far as bringing in the best guys and improving us in that regard. For me, obviously I felt like looking back that we left a lot of meat on the bones. I know I did. I know I’d like to have several balls back, several decisions back that just eat at you and keep me up all night last night just thinking about them. If I would’ve done something different here, something different there, would it have changed the game? I will probably be thinking about that for quite a while. Probably ‘till next season. The nature of the game in the NFL at this point, yeah there’s going to be turnover. It’s not like the years of old when the same teams were together year in and year out. With free agency, the salary cap, and the way things work we’re going to have some turnover and that’s the way it goes. That’s the job of the GM and the personnel department to bring in the best guys and make those decisions about who’s staying and continue to get better in that area. We’ll see what happens.”
What he would think about the team bringing in a big-name quarterback this offseason like Peyton Manning:
“I guess I haven’t even thought about that. If they went after a Peyton Manning obviously that’s Peyton Manning you know? It would make the decision making a little different but I’m not thinking about it at this point. I really feel like mutually I guess that’s where I come on the same page with Coach Harbaugh and Trent and moving forward. Obviously with the season ending I hadn’t had time as far as getting into negotiations or anything like that. I think that will happen in the weeks coming, but if you’re asking that then no question that would change things.”