Alex Smith today said he tried to "blink off" the vision problems that started to affect him in the second quarter Sunday. But the 49ers quarterback said the issues only got worse, and he soon realized he'd be of no value to his team.
"It's tough to play quarterback without your eyes," Smith said following a non-contact practice Wednesday. "... All of a sudden, there was a bunch of things out there that I couldn't make out. I just felt like I couldn't help the team out there."
Smith said the symptoms he suffered this year, especially blurry vision, were similar in nature to what he experienced following a Week 2 game against the Cowboys last year when he also was diagnosed with a concussion. Smith played in the following game. But this week's episode has been far more severe, Smith said. "Last year was not even close to this," he said.
Still, Smith seems to be on track to play Monday against the Bears. He's passed all of the post-concussion parameters set forth by the league, including being cleared by a Stanford Hospital neurologist. Now the last hurdle is being cleared for a full-contact practice session.
"Contact is kind of like the final straw," Smith said. "But I was able to go out there today, which was a little redundant seeing as how we don't get hit in practice. Yeah, felt good out there."
Smith said his vision started to blur following a second-quarter quarterback sneak in which he dove head-first into a pile of players. He acknowledged, however, that a big hit by Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar six plays earlier could have contributed to his problems.
"It's a great question," he said. "It's all kind of speculation. It certainly didn't help. It certainly, in talking to the neurologist, probably contributed for sure. Whether it kind of loosened you up and primed you for the next (hit) that's not as big -- don't know. I felt fine after that, though. I definitely knew I took a big hit, but vision and as far as anything like that felt fine. But the sneak, definitely when I came up after the sneak is when my eyesight was kind of first gone wrong."
Added Smith: "I feel good. I felt good today. Everything I've kind of gone through, I've felt good. It's really not up to me, though. It's a better question for the doctors. They have a lot of stuff they're looking at. I'm not even sure what my answers are telling them, though."
Smith was sharp following the quarterback sneak, completing three passes, including touchdown to Michael Crabtree. How was he able to do that with deteriorating vision? "It's a great question," he said. "I have no idea."
-- Matt Barrows