SAN JOSE Alex Smith's eyes are wide open when it comes to how the ongoing lockout will affect the 49ers, who must digest new playbooks and adjust to new coaches.
"We're behind, behind the 8-ball," Smith said Thursday. " Any team that has had turnover, a new system coming in, is at a clear disadvantage the longer this (lockout) goes."
That was the bad news.
The good news: Smith said he and 20 or so offensive players got a good start on learning their new playbook with a four-day minicamp at San Jose State that wrapped up Thursday.
Nearly every offensive player on the roster, including five rookies, attended the sessions, which began with hourlong classroom periods before two-hour practices at Spartan Stadium.
Players have been unable to communicate with coaches or team officials since the lockout began in mid-March. On April 29, however, a court decision gave them a one-day window to visit their team facilities and meet with coaches.
Smith revealed Thursday that the 49ers' staff used that opportunity not only to give him a playbook but to load him up with teaching materials. Smith then gave what amounted to an introductory course in coach Jim Harbaugh's version of the West Coast offense.
Smith said he essentially installed the base offense over the last four days. In a normal offseason, that installation would have been taught by Harbaugh and his new staff, and it would have begun in April with a predraft minicamp.
Smith acknowledged the 49ers were behind but added that his squad made progress in the first camp.
"In fact, I'd say we probably pushed more installation than you would normally in that first camp," he said. "You know, you'd really like to start off slow. But I really felt like these guys were doing such a great job with it. They were picking it up. Most of them had been in the playbook a little bit, so they knew formations and some of the calls."
Thursday was notable in other ways:
Smith dismissed the notion that there was bad blood between him and his top wide receiver, Michael Crabtree.
"I think that's something that has been totally off-base in what people are reading," he said. "That's not how it is. He and I have always gotten along from Day One."
Center David Baas, who like Smith is a free agent, was on hand and took over snapping duties with the first-team offense.
Baas said that he wants to come back and has gotten an indication from the 49ers that they want him back.
Second-year wide receiver Kyle Williams tweaked his hamstring on a long pass play.
Williams walked off the field and said he'd be fine, but the injury underscored the risk that the players are undertaking by practicing among themselves during the lockout.
First-round draft pick Aldon Smith made his first appearance at San Jose State. The linebacker had a grueling workout with four other defensive players led by fellow Missouri product Justin Smith.
Meanwhile, Alex Smith said he had no idea when the lockout would end but that the 49ers would have more player-led minicamps if it continues to drag on. There are tentative plans to hold another session at San Jose State at the end of this month.
"The plan is to progress it, to take the next steps, not be redundant," he said. "And obviously, if you have a second one, you'd like to come back and see what these guys retained. I threw a lot at them this week."