Once Upon a Time has gradually been becoming a disappointment for me. :( I like the fairy tale stuff and I like the cast and writing, but the overall direction of the show is uninteresting to me. I'm not interested to see where it's going. I think Grimm is much better in that respect, but it will probably not see a second season.
Not one, but TWO Alex Smith Articles!
Tim Kawakami: There's an edge to the new Alex Smith
By Tim Kawakami
Mercury News Columnist
Posted: 11/29/2011 05:46:22 PM PST
Updated: 11/30/2011 07:12:43 AM PST
Well, Alex Smith, that was easy!
He had to endure only six seasons of pain and misery, several stubborn head coaches, many losses and more words of criticism than his family members could probably bear.
Here's what Smith says he has learned: The less he agonizes over what everybody else thinks, the more successful he can become.
In 2011, Edgy Alex -- steeled and sharpened by six years of rebuke and failure -- suddenly has taken over and flourished.
"When I was young, I just tried to please everybody," Smith said Tuesday in a long exclusive interview at the 49ers' facility. "Especially being the first pick (in 2005), I was, 'Man, I'm going to prove it to everybody.'
"And not just you -- the media -- and the fans, but my teammates, coaches ... and I'm going to do it on every single play. And with every action."
Smith recalled with some sheepishness that early in his career he sometimes kept track of his stats during games, just to try to make sure his performance wouldn't get ripped.
"I don't care," Smith said. "I'm going to focus on other stuff. I don't really care about that stuff."
Of course, Smith is never going to be too rude or even semi-insolent. He's a nice guy, in a tough man's game.
But that was part of the dilemma -- Smith came to the 49ers as a late bloomer from the University of Utah who had just seen most of his dreams answered overnight by the draft.
He hadn't earned his NFL credentials. And, under the ham-handed auspices of first Mike Nolan and then Mike Singletary, Smith sure wasn't going to get a lot of help learning the quarterbacking craft.
Now, Smith is philosophical about his fierce cold war with Nolan in 2007, when the coach disparaged Smith, and Smith at one point fired back.
"I've grown up so much since then," Smith said Tuesday. "I would've just done it differently looking back. Still fight that battle, just do it a different way.
"And I would say that to him, no question. We'd probably laugh about it."
And what about Singletary, who once famously called Smith "meek" while (apparently) trying to compliment him?
"I don't want to dig up all that stuff, but (he and Singletary have) just different opinions on what strength is," Smith said. "Different opinions of what toughness is. Different opinions of what really I think being a man is, a little bit."
Does Smith believe the 49ers ever threw him under the bus during his career, as Jim Harbaugh suggested during the offseason?
"The people in this building, in this organization, have always been so supportive of me," Smith said. "I've never felt like I was a scapegoat, by any means ...
"I mean, you're the quarterback, if you lose games ... it's the head coach and the quarterback. If you're not winning, it's on you."
Smith had a chance to escape the 49ers situation last offseason, and he acknowledges that, at the tail end of 2010, he was ready for such a move.
He'd been yanked in and out of the lineup by Singletary, he'd gone through a new coordinator every season, and a fresh start with another franchise seemed enticing.
"I was pretty frustrated with what had been going on here," Smith said. "But luckily you don't have to make decisions right at the end of a season, all emotional."
Smith took some time away and decided that he didn't want to take the easy way. The lockout made moving trickier, anyway, but it was too simple to take off and let everyone assume he was blaming the 49ers for his troubles.
And Smith looked at the big picture.
"This is what I've started to understand: Where do I have a chance to have success, and by success, I mean win games?" Smith said.
"And for me, it was an easy decision. It was very clear that this was it. I knew the talent we had here. I knew the guys we had. We didn't have a bunch of knuckleheads. We've got a great group.
"Then I liked what I was hearing from Coach Harbaugh."
Yes, Harbaugh. That guy.
Smith was already on the path to edginess, but joining up with Harbaugh certainly didn't hurt the process.
What Smith says he admires most in Harbaugh is that the coach doesn't worry about what anybody else thinks.
After six seasons in partial NFL hell, Smith was 100 percent ready for that.
"The thing I take away most is it's just that mindset, it's that attitude," Smith said. "It's that chip and how to use it."
Yes, Smith has a chip on his shoulder, and he didn't mind when I pointed it out.
The chip definitely showed up when I asked if he believes he needs to kick the passing game into gear to win in the playoffs.
"Where I'm at, I just don't give a crap about that right now," Smith said of his 9-2 team, on the brink of clinching the NFC West crown. "We're winning games, playing football, you know what I'm saying?
"I'm having such a good time playing football and trying to get better at my position and trying to strive for that each and every week, I guess I just don't give a crap right now."
He wouldn't have said it that way six years ago. He would've tried to be nice about it.
Edgy Alex doesn't play it that way; he's an overnight miracle, after six nightmare seasons.
I love that he stayed. *cries* A couple of times I was convinced that he was going to leave, especially after last season, and I was really sad. I couldn't be happier about his success this season. :)
Alex Smith Continues His Run
By Taylor Price
Posted 46 minutes ago
Alex Smith’s quarterback rating has increased in all but one of his seven seasons playing in the National Football League. The only year it decreased, 2007, the former No. 1 overall pick suffered a major shoulder injury which threatened to derail his career altogether.
But ever since that setback, which was followed by two season-ending surgeries and two head coaching changes, Smith has found ways to improve each year he’s been in the pros. Now, under his third head coach who stresses all the key fundamentals of his position, Smith’s enjoying the best year of his career.
Smith also has his team one win away from clinching the NFC West and San Francisco’s first playoff berth since 2002.
“This is new territory for a lot of us here, me included,” Smith said on Wednesday, “but it’s exciting.”
The athletic quarterback, who’s shown ability to make plays with his arm and his legs, has been at the center of his team’s success. Leadership, toughness and strong decision-making have all been the hallmarks of Smith’s breakout season.
The 49ers quarterback, who has a 75.3 career quarterback rating, has seen his production steadily improve under Harbaugh’s watch with their like-minded approach. Passion for the game and a close eye on details have Smith on pace to post career-best numbers across his stat line.
And, he has five games to do it.
Smith’s current 91.2 quarterback rating stands as the league’s eighth-best. And also this season, Smith has thrown for 2,116 yards while posting 7.10 yards per attempt, the highest average of his career.
With a new focus on ball security, Smith has trusted his teammates on both sides of the ball to make plays for him. He doesn’t force throws, certainly not when he trusts his top-ranked defense to get the ball back to the offense.
Moreover, Smith’s been more of a runner this season. He needs 14 rushing yards to surpass the 147 yards he totaled in 2006, the year he became the first quarterback in team history to take every snap from center for an entire season.
“In the past I don’t think it was something I emphasized enough or paid enough attention to,” Smith admitted. “It’s not that I’m forcing it, but now I’m letting those things come to me and taking them when they’re there.”
Smith was sacked a season-high nine times last week in a loss to Baltimore, but could have been taken down a few more times if not for his improvisational running from the pocket.
Teammates appreciate Smith’s play-making ability and like his chances of moving the chains if he decides to tuck the ball and run.
“He’s protecting the ball really well,” center Jonathan Goodwin noted. “I don’t think he has that many interceptions and at the same time, getting sacked, I don’t think he’s put the ball on the ground. I think Alex has done a great job this year. The No. 1 thing for a quarterback is to protect the ball.”
In fact, the 49ers are 6-0 when Smith has avoided throwing an interception this season.
The focus on running for first downs has helped in that category. Instead of throwing into tight coverage on third downs, Smith’s been adept at looking for running lanes when they appear.
“There’s been more of an emphasis of still using my legs as one of my strengths when plays break down or when I see lanes,” Smith detailed, “I’m using them to potentially pick up a first down or to extend plays.”
Perhaps Sunday’s opponent, the St. Louis Rams, serve as the best reminder of Smith’s resurgence in 2011.
The last time the teams played, Smith came off the bench to try and save the 49ers season by keeping them in the playoff hunt. This time, the 49ers need a win from Smith to put them in the playoffs.
Indeed, what a remarkable turnaround.
“It’s fun playing for a playoff berth and our first division championship since 2002," Smith said. "It’s exciting to be playing in these types of games in November and now down into December.”
All-time, Smith is 4-2 against the Rams with an 86.8 quarterback rating, his highest against any NFC West opponent. Further evidence of Smith’s improved on-field demeanor, his four, fourth-quarter comebacks this season match the four comebacks he posted in his previous six seasons.
If the 49ers can beat St. Louis in any fashion, it might not count towards Smith’s comeback numbers, but it’ll further seal his case as one of the league’s best stories of the year.
I WANNA WIN I WANNA WIN I WANNA WIN. *ahem* I mean, if the 49ers beat the Rams on Sunday they'll clinch the division and make the playoffs for the first time since I started watching football. Oh man.