SANTA CLARA Merely a "game manager?"
For the second consecutive week, an upcoming 49ers opponent praised quarterback Alex Smith for the very thing for which he was disparaged last year being careful with the football.
Asked about the fact that the 49ers haven't committed a turnover in 26 consecutive regular-season quarters, Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz cited Smith's smarts.
"Got to have a really smart quarterback to do it, and Alex Smith is a smart quarterback," Schwartz said. " . I don't think it's any coincidence that the 49ers went 13-3 last year and also led the NFL in turnover margin. I mean, those two go hand in hand."
A week ago, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers noted Smith's five interceptions last year, and he said the term "game manager" was "condescending" toward Smith.
Smith hasn't thrown an interception since the 49ers' Thanksgiving night loss in Baltimore. In Sunday's win against Green Bay, he surpassed Steve Young's franchise mark with 185 pass attempts without an interception.
The last 49ers player to turn the ball over on a fumble during a regular-season game was Vernon Davis last Nov. 6 against the Washington Redskins.
"In the history of the NFL, it's the strongest correlation to winning and losing, the turnover ratio," Smith said. "We understand that. You can't go out and be conservative and try not to turn the ball over and expect to win games. But the goal is to still go out and try and execute, and execute well, and win the turnover battle. And we're all doing that."
Smith's upcoming rival, Detroit's Matthew Stafford, has a more aggressive philosophy, trusting his big right arm to throw into tight spaces and often targeting big receiver Calvin Johnson even when Johnson is covered.
In 2011, Stafford threw for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns were to Johnson but also had 16 interceptions. He started this season with three picks thrown in Sunday's win over the St. Louis Rams.
"Turnovers are a big, big part of the NFL," Schwartz said. "Last week, we were minus-three in turnovers and we came out with a win. That's incredibly hard to do. You can't make a living being minus in the turnover category."
Et cetera Schwartz was just as resistant to "handshake" questions as 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has been.
"We've moved on," he said of last season's infamous encounter in Detroit. "It was last year, and I think I've commented enough."
Wide receiver Ted Ginn (ankle) and running back Brandon Jacobs (knee) continued to rehabilitate on a side field while the rest of their teammates practiced. Ginn's absence Sunday would mean Kyle Williams would make his 2012 Candlestick Park debut as the 49ers' punt returner. Williams was flawless in that role Sunday.