There are no bad feelings between Alex Smith and Michael Crabtree, Smith said Thursday while at the same time acknowledging there has been bad chemistry between quarterback and receiver on the playing field.
"On the field, no question," Smith said. "He and I would both agree that we were - unhappy would be an understatement - for all our play last year. No question. ... There's no question both of us are unhappy. We'd be the first to tell you that. We know we have to play better, both of us. Absolutely. No question."
The perception that there might be some off-the-field tension was stoked last week when Smith was asked why Crabtree, who had been working out in the Bay Area, hadn't joined Smith and other 49ers at workouts at San Jose State. "Great question," Smith said. "Asking the wrong guy, honestly."
Smith said he was "disgusted" with himself when he read the quote in the newspaper. "It looked like a jab," he said Thursday. "I called him up and talked to him and apologized." A few days later, Crabtree seemed to diminish Smith's presumptive role as the starter when, asked about the benefits of throwing with his quarterback in the offseason, Crabtree said he didn't know who that quarterback would be.
Smith said he understood why Crabtree would be confused. While coach Jim Harbaugh has been effusive in his praise of Smith this offseason, Smith said Crabtree probably hadn't read those accounts and wasn't sure if Smith would even be on the team.
"I'm not even on the roster," Smith said. "I'm a free agent. I'm not on the roster. So for him to be confused as to the quarterback situation isn't the strangest thing in the world in my opinion. I can tell you Michael probably doesn't read all the stuff.
"A lot of guys -- we're in it so deep during the season that during the off-season sometimes the last thing you want to do is read up on what's going on," Smith continued. "You have to get away a little bit and clear your head. So for him to be confused? I'm sure there's a lot of other guys confused on what the hell is going on. It's understandable. I don't think that's the strangest thing. I don't think that was a huge deal."
Smith said he was happy that Crabtree was on hand for every day of the morning classroom sessions Smith has been holding. He also said he had no problem that Crabtree, who had surgery to correct a stress fracture in his foot before the 2009 draft, did not take part in the last three practices after developing foot soreness in Monday's practice. "I told him there's no point in pushing it," Smith said. "It would have been stupid."
It should be pointed out that both receiver Dominique Zeigler (ACL) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (undisclosed injury) did not take part in the practices but remained on the field to observe practice every day. Crabtree departed every day after the morning classroom session.
Said Smith: "Obviously, you'd love to have him out for that. Michael came down for all the classroom sessions. He wanted to learn. He wanted to be ready to go whenever this thing gets going. He's done the right things. I just think a lot of this has been blown out a little bit."
-- Matt Barrows