49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

May 18, 2009
OTA observations on Alex Smith, Jimmy Williams

One day of OTAs is in the books. Here are some of the observations I jotted down ...

As usual, Alex Smith was asked about his throwing arm. What was unusual is that Smith said the arm was completely back to normal. In the past, Smith has said something along the lines of, the arm feels good but that the deep passes still give me some trouble or, the arm feels good but there is still some soreness after I throw. He wasn't complaining, but merely saying that the comeback process was not yet complete.

Today he didn't hedge when asked if his arm was full go. "Yeah. Absolutely. No question," he said. "I feel really good. I don't feel like there's many throws on the field I can't make right now."

Smith was also asked whether he'd like to see the full retinue of receivers on the field for OTAs. Isaac Bruce is the only 49ers veteran who is uninjured and not taking part in the OTA. Arnaz Battle (foot) and Michael Crabtree (foot) are attending the four-day session but not participating.

"You can't show up in the fall and expect to be winning games," Smith said in response. "I think, especially with where we're at, it takes everybody to be here. We've got to push it right now. You can't just show up and expect to win games in this league - at any level, that doesn't happen."

That's about as powerful as anything that Smith has said - to the media, at least - since he was drafted in 2005. One of the criticisms of Smith is that he is too nice, that he doesn't have that certain jerk-ishness (I want to use another four-letter word that ends in "k") that seems to be a prerequisite for running a huddle. Perhaps this is an indication of no more Mr. Nice Guy from Mr. Smith.

About Jimmy Williams ... Some of you have asked if I sensed there was something else that may have prompted the safety's release. I have to admit that, yes, the b.s. detection needle inside my head started flickering when I learned he was waived. But I have no information right now to suggest that his release was due to anything other than what Mike Singletary said - a numbers situation. ... Weight was an issue in Williams' release from Atlanta last year. When the team drafted him in 2006, he weighed 213 pounds. He had risen to 230 or so pounds prior to the Falcons releasing him. Williams told me earlier this month that he had been as heavy as 240 pounds but that he currently weighed 225. He said he was hoping to drop down to 218 or so pounds by training camp.

If I was asked to pick a long shot to make the team, my mid May pick would be "Mike" linebacker Justin Roland. Roland certainly has plenty of competition at inside linebacker, but he has great presence on the field. He was also one of a handful of lbs who stayed after today's practice to run up and down Singletary's newly built hill. The others: Takeo Spikes, Jeff Ulbrich, rookie Scott McKillop, Mark Washington and Manny Lawson.

Here's how the first-team offense and defense looked today:

RB: Frank Gore
FB: Moran Norris
QB: Shaun Hill
WR: Jason Hill
WR: Josh Morgan
TE: Vernon Davis
LT: Joe Staley
LG: David Baas
C: Eric Heitmann
RG: Chilo Rachal
RT: Adam Snyder

NT: Aubrayo Franklin
RDE: Justin Smith
LDE: Isaac Sopoaga
MLB: Patrick Willis
TLB: Takeo Spikes
WLB: Parys Haralson
SLB: Manny Lawson
CB: Walt Harris
CB: Nate Clements
SS: Reggie Smith (Michael Lewis was observing)
FS: Dashon Goldson

-- Matt Barrows

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Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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