It's a rite of spring in Northern California along with blooming crocuses and arriving robins. Every year around this time, we read how Alex Smith is adopting a new, more take-charge attitude for the upcoming season.
Like clockwork, Smith's personality again is a subject this spring. How can one avoid the topic after what he said about Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and his sloughing off of coach Jim Harbaugh's rehash of the Peyton Manning saga? Smith, a polite, exquisitely mannered quarterback who tried to please everyone in the past, has seemingly adopted an I-don't-care demeanor this year.
Perhaps it has to do with his March visit to throwing guru Tom House, who is from Smith's hometown of San Diego and which was documented last month by the Chron's Eric Branch. In addition to analyzing Smith's throwing motion and determining that he still is affected slightly by the shoulder surgeries and rehabilitations he had in 2007 and 2008, House told me over the weekend that Smith's nutrition and his mental-emotional makeup also were analyzed.
House declined to discuss his specific findings about Smith. But in general, he said, some quarterbacks run into problems when they pile too much onto themselves. He used his first quarterback client, Drew Brees, as an example. Brees is the one who recommended that Smith visit House.
"I think what I can say without getting Drew in trouble is, this was a young man who cared too much and tried to do too much personally when other people on the field were not doing what they should," House said. "He carried that on his shoulders."
House said quarterbacks should have plenty of empathy but not so much empathy that it affects their performance. He was full of praise for the four quarterbacks who visited him in March - Smith, the Patriots' Tom Brady, the Raiders' Carson Palmer and the Chiefs' Matt Cassel - but he said the adjustment that group, as whole, would have to take is to be less empathetic.
Said House of Smith: "What he's learning how to do is not care too much. He can care enough but he can't care too much."
-- Matt Barrows