Alex Smith channeling Peyton Manning? Smith spent the early part of practice barking out directions and essentially running an offensive drill. Smith was practicing third-and-long situations in which he's in the shotgun. He and center Eric Heitmann were coordinating where the defensive pressure would be coming from and what the receivers should do in various situations. It was the loudest and most demonstrative that I can recall Smith being in a practice. "If you watch, you see Peyton Manning, you see Tom Brady, you see most of them that operate out of the gun at the line of scrimmage, you see that (animation) a lot," said offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye.
There are two points about this development. First, it shows how far ahead - offense installation-wise -- the 49ers are from where they were a year ago. Raye said the blitz pick-up philosophy a year ago amounted to "I hope I'm right, and if I'm not, scramble to my right."
Second, it shows that Smith, who definitely is a type B personality, is getting comfortable enough to start raising his voice. That began in March when he and Raye sat down and discussed what Smith liked and disliked about the offense. Raye and Mike Singletary had a hard time getting feedback from Smith when he took over as quarterback last season.
"He's been more responsive that way," Raye said. "First of all, his personality doesn't lend itself to being that kind of person. But we spent a lot of time since February just talking football, one on one. He has things that were surprising to me that he didn't particularly care for that he went along with last year but that he expressed he wanted changed, some things he thought were better. We came to a happy medium because I told him, it's democratic but it isn't 50-50. I'm going to make the last call on most of it."
First-round draft pick Anthony Davis got off to a rough start today. I'm not talking about practice. I'm talking about his interview. With a crowd of reporters surrounding his locker, Davis went to sit on a stool that wasn't there, sending the 323-pound lineman onto his posterior. "That's going to be a blooper," Davis laughed.
The starts of practices, meanwhile, haven't been an issue for Davis. It's the endings where's he's had trouble in terms of stamina. The rookie admitted today that the pace - and the demands - of an NFL practice are far different than they were at Rutgers. Here, Davis said, every snap is full-go. "If you're not giving it everything, then it won't be enough," Davis said.
The good news is that Davis seems to have the right attitude. He's not moping or feeling sorry for himself. He's taken a positive attitude toward improving his conditioning and winning a spot on the first-team offensive line. So far in these OTAs, Davis has been the second-team right tackle behind Adam Snyder.
Another positive: Davis said the veteran linemen he has gone to for advice and information is guard Chilo Rachal. "Chilo's been helping out a lot," Davis said. "... It's not like pulling teeth with him. I ask him something and he tells me." There are offensive linemen on the team that probably know more than Rachal, who is entering his third season. But developing a rapport with Rachal, the right guard, is important if Davis is going to be playing next to him this season.
I'll have more about the practice session itself in a later post ...
-- Matt Barrows