49ers Blog and Q&A

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

January 14, 2008
Martz says Smith has all the right tools

Mike Martz was just on KNBR with Tom Tolbert and Ralph Barbieri. There was nothing earth shattering, but the 49ers' new offensive coordinator again said that he thought Alex Smith had the necessary skills to run his offense. Martz said he was familiar with Smith – both from the draft and from coaching against him in 2005 and 2006 – and that friend and fellow coach Norv Turner thought highly of the quarterback. Martz said that Smith was bright, accurate and tough, and that those three attributes were essential for being a good quarterback. Martz did say that he would have to “strip things away” and then rebuild Smith as he has done all his quarterbacks.

As far as receivers, Martz said he needed at least one wideout who can put pressure on opposing defenses. That element, of course, was missing in 2007, but Martz said he hasn’t reached any conclusions on his new receiving corps. “To say that none of these guys can do that – I don’t know about that,” Martz said. “You do need a guy to get down the field. I do think there’s speed (here). There’s some capability.” This year’s draft class will be full of speedy receivers. One of them, Michigan junior Mario Manningham, entered the draft earlier today. I’ll be talking with another, Cal’s Lavelle Hawkins, later this week.

As he did the day he was hired, Martz said he was encouraged by the strength of the 49ers’ defense and special teams. His former teams, the Rams and Lions, both struggled in those areas. “You can mix and match and have a nice blend of run and pass and not worry about having to play from behind all the time,” Martz said.

Martz also was asked about Mike Nolan’s tenuous hold on the head-coaching job. Martz denied that he’ll be a distraction or that he was gunning for Nolan’s job. “That’s not even a consideration,” he said. “I’m here to work with Mike. Period.”

The 49ers signed five players to future contracts. They are: RB Thomas Clayton (Kansas State), CB Markus Curry (Michigan), WR Jerard Rabb (Boise State), TE Cooper Wallace (Auburn) and WR Dominique Zeigler (Baylor). Clayton, Curry, Rabb and Zeigler ended the season on the practice squad.
Wallace (6-3, 258) was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Bears in 2006. He spent 13 weeks on Tennessee's practice squad before being signed to the active roster later that season. Wallace started one game and caught one pass for six yards. He spent the 2007 season in between Tennessee's and Cincinnati's practice squads.

-- Matt 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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