After listening in on Alex Smith’s I’m-back-with-the-49ers-like-nothing-happened conference call this morning, there can be no doubt: while Smith was understandably bothered by the 49ers’ pursuit of Peyton Manning, the emotions/feelings angle is totally played out.
Smith may not be an All-Pro quarterback, but he’s adept at navigating the media minefield. He wasn’t about to complain about his bosses (Jim Harbaugh, Trent Baalke and/or Jed York) or paint himself as a victim. While Smith was in a bit of a tough spot for a week or so as the Manning rumors picked up momentum, he’s in as good a position as any starting quarterback in the NFL…
1. Winning team
2. Great coaching
3. Strong offensive line
4. Brilliant defense
5. Organizational stability
6. New and improved receivers
7. Good money, but not enough to cause undue pressure (i.e. the “Zito effect”)
8. Backed by his teammates (Vernon Davis and Frank Gore, in particular)
9. April’s Draft will be tailored to fitting a team around him, not finding his potential replacement
10. Five-plus months to prepare for next season
Compare Smith’s situation with Drew Brees, whose whole career has been turned upside-down by the bounty punishments levied on New Orleans today. His coach is gone and his team (one of the league’s best over the past three years, if not the best) is damaged, perhaps beyond repair. His contract situation remains unsettled, and this is the guy who just broke the single-season yardage record.
Smith’s comparatively lucky, and he knows it. Here are some highlights from a conference call that took place around 11:30 today after the 49ers announced he’d be back on a 3-year deal.
Wait! First, let’s take a look at York, who made a statement of his own about a half hour before the call. He may be the most entertaining Twitter-owner in the league, behind Jim Irsay.
All that tweet needed was a sad-face emoticon. You know he thought about it.
Okay, now onto the call:
— Most of the early questions focused on how Smith feels about returning and the 49ers’ overtures to a certain quarterback. “Not offended at all,” said Smith. “I would have relished the opportunity to compete with Peyton Manning.”
— One amusing part of the call were reporters stepping over each other to ask questions. Matt Maiocco was like a beat-writing version of Justin Smith, bull-rushing opposing reporters and tossing them aside like overwhelmed offensive tackles.
— “Money wasn’t an issue … money’s great for security but I’m not a guy who has a bunch of flashy cars,” Smith said. After the call, Smith hopped on his hoverboard and soared to Los Gatos.
— When Smith was seen in first class on a redeye to Miami, and then took part in a 5 1/2-hour* meeting with the Dolphins, everyone freaked out. Is Alex upset? Will he ever trust Jim Harbaugh again? The answer: “It’s free agency, it’s the NFL, I went down (to Miami) but the plan all along was to come back here.”
*Side note: one of my favorite things from the past week was how whoever was stalking the Dolphins’ complex felt the need to be super precise in terms of the time, like it makes a difference whether Smith was in there for 5 or 6 hours.
— Someone asked Smith about Randy Moss, and Smith spoke of Moss’ unique “toolset” and said, “When your last name can become a verb … you got ‘Mossed’ as wide receivers say…” Depending on a player’s extracurricular activities, getting “mossed” could mean something completely different than what Alex is thinking, while still referring to Randy Moss.
— “I feel like I’ve been through way worse than this,” said Smith, who refrained from using the words “Nolan,” “Singletary,” and “Raye.” Yeah, I’m recycling material. It’s been a long week.
— In a response to David Fucillo‘s question on what Smith plans on working on during the off-season, Smith responded, “Passing game’s the emphasis, it’s time to really take it to the next level.” Option No. 2 for Smith: “Not caddying.” (He didn’t actually say that.)
Hope the reception will be strong enough for you to give it a good shot, way more intelligent, humorous and insightful talk than KNBR.
Listening to Muprh and Mac this morning and it was hillarious how little Alex gave them to work with in terms of incendiary quotes -especially his relationship with Harbaugh. I like Murph and Mac but they were going over every word with a fine tooth comb and they couldn't find anything to make much of. Guy gave them crumbs in terms of material to work with. No wonder athletes give the media cliched answers. You rock Alex!
I agree, John. I like Alex, but if Peyton had made the decision to become a 49er like he says he "could've easily become", Alex signs with Miami on Saturday.
Didn't we all know this is how it was going to end-up? Really looking forward to watching Alex with the new Receiving corp. The one comment from Alex that really jumped out..."I would have relished the opportunity to compete with Peyton Manning" COME ON ALEX!!! that's the best thing you could say in that situation? Did he think if the NINERS signed Manning that he would even be on the Team?
Someone should have asked if Smith would caddy for Harbaugh again. That's really the only thing I'm interested in.
Now, imagine that same kind of scenario being played out repeatedly with the print media, tv media, reporters with a mic in your face, etc. Anyone who has been interviewed more than once has to know they're going to be dissected, mis-quoted, taken out of context, spun, re-spun, etc. in the name of higher ratings (page views, eyeballs, listeners, twits, whatever), so now we get: "blah blah blah vanilla boring trite saying, blah blah blah cliche, blah blah blah empty platitude" etc. Of course, when a coach/athlete/etc. actually *does* say something they didn't mean to, they'll backpeddle like crazy and *claim* they were mis-quoted out of context, etc., so it works both ways. :) People have been conditioned to believe what they hear on the radio, see on TV, in the paper, and now on the internet; the truth is usually more subtle and often less exciting. Except here on BASG, where everything is spot-on crazy interesting, all day every day!! :-)
In contrast I just heard an Interview with Manningham on 95.7 Rise Guys (Great show) Wow there will be no mistaking him with a Nuclear Engineer.
Or maybe the Saints...Alex is pretty smart I hear they are looking for a Head Coach and they still haven't signed Brees yet... HAHAHA!!!
Compete with Peyton Manning?!? There wouldn't be a competition. Peyton Manning would be the starting quarterback on whatever team he went to.
It coulda happened. It's not like other teams were beating down Smith's door and the Niners would have needed a better second option than Colin Kaepernik considering Manning's injury history
Damn you JS, finally turned the dial to 95.7 You were right, awesome stuff. I guess I'm getting more set in my ways as I get older. Sorry KNBR.
That's true, if only because any team shelling out the kind of $$ necessary to sign Peyton was darn well going to start him.