49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

June 10, 2007
No breeze for rookie Willis; Smith-Davis chemistry grows

Question: Great job with the blog. Please keep it up!

I was wondering how well is Patrick Willis doing? Is he still looking tentative, or is his speed starting to show up? Also, I've heard some good things about Alex Smith so far. I know, I know, it's only OTAs and there are no pads and no "real" pass rush. However, I'm interested in finding out if he's getting rid of the ball quicker and if he's hitting more guys in stride. Those are the two areas I think he needs the most improvement on. What say you?

Scott, Hercules

Answer: Hi, Scott. As far as Willis, he hasn't jumped out yet. In fact, the guy playing in front of him, Derek Smith, looked especially good all week. Smith is a savvy veteran with a lot to prove this year. My prediction is he gives Willis a hell of a fight for that starting spot. Alex has looked good. One troubling development, though, is that he has yet to do any meaningful work with his top two projected receivers, Darrell Jackson and Ashley Lelie. Last year at this time, he was throwing extensively to Antonio Bryant, and that connection paid dividends at the start of the season. One bright spot is that he is throwing a lot to Vernon Davis. If I had to make a guess in June as to Smith's top receiver (in receptions) at the end of the season, I would definitely go with Davis.

- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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