49ers Blog and Q&A

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

August 5, 2008
Quarterback competition: Two-minute analysis

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Training camp is full of minutia, and it's dangerous to lock in on one bit of that minutia and try to make dramatic conclusions from it. And yet ...well, I've been thinking about that two-minute drill that Alex Smith ran last night. I'm not going to say that it reveals the secret to the three-way quarterback competition. All I'm going to say is that it was interesting. Here's why.

1.) First, Smith executed it pretty darn well. Some of his passes are still late and thrown behind his receivers. This has been a common element in Smith this training camp. But the bottom line is that he steadily moved the team down the field and began to display a command of the offense that Mike Martz predicted would start showing right about now. Yes, Smith was playing against second-stringers. But with Isaac Bruce, Bryant Johnson, Arnaz Battle and Ashley Lelie all sitting out the practice, Smith's second-string receiving corps consisted of Robert Ortiz, Dominique Zeigler and Cam Colvin. Not exactly the Fun Bunch.

2.) Smith wasn't even supposed to be on the field. He was supposed to get first crack at running the two-minute offense and then yield to either Shaun Hill or J.T. O'Sullivan. When the first team went four and out - because of a dropped pass - Martz decided to leave Smith in when the second team took the field. Martz said he wanted to see how Smith handled himself in an end-of-game situation. Does that mean Martz is leaning toward Smith and needs just a bit more reinforcement before he decides Smith's the one? Or does it mean that Martz senses a flaw in Smith - that he has trouble in pressure situations? Dunno the answer. What is evident, however, is that Smith made the most of the opportunity.

3.) Mike Nolan was watching the defense on a separate practice field while all of this was happening. Sure, he'll get to watch the practice tape and make his assessments off of that. But it's a signal that Martz is the one pulling the strings as far as which quarterbacks get which first-team opportunities. And that's a good thing.

Here's a quick video of how Raiders camp was set up yesterday. The 49ers did all their individual drills on the right-hand field before the Raiders defense and 49ers offense practiced togther there. The opposite occurred on the left-hand field. Al Davis lorded over the procedings.

08042008052 from http://sparrow280.vox.com/

I'll have an update on CB Tarell Brown's hand later today ... *****Update****** Both Brown (hand) and Dashon Goldson (arch) took part in special teams practice, according to a team spokesman. As expected, Nolan gave the team the afternoon off. Instead of hitting the practice field, they'll hit the movie theater ... to see "Batman."

-- 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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