Alex Smith on Kaepernick's success: 'It's good for the team'


Alex Smith on Kaepernick's success: 'It's good for the team'

Here's what Alex Smith had to say when he met with the media on Wednesday:"What have you been told about being cleared?
"Still in the process. I've been cleared to go back out and practice. I'll be out there in the (black) jersey and just start the process again and continue it."How do you feel?
"I feel good. I'm kind of expecting things to go well, but still got steps to go through."A week ago you said you felt good then, too.
"Yeah, I felt good. Just didn't work out. Didn't get cleared. But I'm feeling better, definitely feeling better."Did you experience symptoms over the weekend?
"I tried to push it and go out and practice, yeah, I just wasn't right, so the doctors didn't end up clearing me."Was it a headache?
"I'm not going to get into the symptoms that were going on. Just tried to push it early in the week and there were still some lingering things."Is the final hurdle the contact practice?
"Yeah, no big deal was made of that. The big thing for me as a quarterback is kind of, yeah, you got to get out there had have a little contact with the helmet on, and get banged around a little bit, but it's not a huge thing. "And it never came to that last week, correct?
"No, I never did that."RELATED: Harbaugh in no hurry to decide 49ers' starting QB
Jim Harbaugh said it could be a week-to-week decision. How do you view that?
"Any time the next guy steps up and plays well, it's a good thing for the team. Let's not get this wrong. If this were any other position, it's a great thing. Now, does it complicate things for me and Colin? Yeah. The quarterback position gets a lot of attention. A lot is going to be written and talked about. There's only one ball. Only one guy is going to be under center. It's part of the deal. This is a good thing for this team. This is a good problem. Those are the decisions for Coach. That's his position. We just play football."Do you feel like you're competing with him for the job right now?
"No, I feel like I'm trying to get healthy and get back out there and prove I can play. And part of that is getting cleared. That's where I'm at right now."You're having the best season of your career. Would you expect when you're healthy you should get the starting job back?
"You don't expect anything. This is the nature of the game. The next guy steps up and plays well. That's part of the deal in this game. Competition is part of it, as well. So don't know what's going to happen."RELATED: Harbaugh's three options at QB
Were you surprised your coach left the door open?
"No, once again, that's his call. Colin played great. He stepped up and played really well on a big stage against a good defense. It comes with the territory."You said it complicates things between you and Colin. What conversations have you had?
"Just all this stuff. He and I have talked quite a few times since then. In my opinion, if you can't be happy for your teammate's success, you're playing the wrong sport. Go play tennis or golf or something. That's ridiculous, I think. It doesn't belong in team sports, in my opinion. Like I said, it's the quarterback position. It's going to get a lot of attention. We're going to get talked about. But it's important that it doesn't come in here (the locker room)."He's a high draft pick. Did you think something like this could happen?
"Well, he's a good player. Yeah, I knew what he potentially was capable of. He's shown it on the practice field. He's shown it when he got his opportunities. That's always the case, high draft pick or not. Ultimately the decision came down to me and my healthy and whether I was OK. And didn't feel like it was something I could tough through. You can't tough through something like that and ultimately the doctors didn't clear me."How important is it for a quarterback to know going into the game he's going to be the starter and dividing the practice reps during the week?
"The reps are obviously important through the week. I don't think you live and die by them, by any means. But, yeah, it's a part of the deal. We've always done a good job here splitting reps up throughout the week, as far as starter and backup goes. We'll see how it goes this week."Can you reflect on that game against the Saints in January and how much this game means for both teams?
"Yeah, no question, they're a hot team, been playing really well the last few weeks, on a roll. They get a little chance at revenge, get us back in their place. I think everybody that watched that game remembers it. And certainly us that took part in it. I know that. It was a physical game, it was back and forth, some talking going on out there on the field. So I'm sure it's in the back of their heads. I'm sure they remember it and the chance to get us on their turf."I'm sure this game has been circled for a long time?
"Yeah, I knew when the schedule came out it was something I looked at, when we were playing them, and down there at their place. So I'm sure it was the same for them."The way 2010 ended with you starting one week and Troy Smith the next Do you look back at how you handled yourself during that stretch? Is it similar to what you might face now?
"Yeah, I've been in a few of these, you know? And they're all different. YI think the great thing is obviously the character of this locker room. We've got great character in the quarterback room, too. Chance to really kind of be different and set a great example for the team, us. It's not easy, it can be complicated, but this is a good problem for the 49ers. It's a good problem for us as a team. It's not a bad thing. There's only one ball, though. That's what makes it tough, so we'll see how it goes."Were there aspects of Colin's performance that you thought were especially good?
"I think just going out there and, for me, on a big stage, good defense that really has kind of really over-powered some offenses the weeks prior, just going out there and attacking was the biggest thing for a young quarterback. To get out there and to get timid or not to be aggressive. For him to get out there and really cut it loose, it was a good thing to see.

What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense


What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense

SANTA CLARA – Rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon did not win the right to suit up for the 49ers’ first four games. Behind the scenes, he made it his mission to earn a contributing role.

“He really started to get better with his coordination with his feet from the bump-and-run coverage and from playing ‘off.’ There’s always a light that goes on,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “And we felt that for a couple weeks from Ahkello. Once he did that, he definitely earned the right to be out there.”

The plan was for Witherspoon to rotate into the action and share time with starters Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson. But he played just six snaps on Oct. 8 against Indianapolis before sustaining a concussion. Witherspoon returned to action last week and played 34 of the 49ers’ 74 snaps last week at Washington. He showed enough to coninue getting significant playing time.

“He’s earned the right to play,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “He works his tail off in practice. He’s so deliberate in his approach. Whether it was scout team, whether it was team reps, whether it was walk-through, it didn’t matter.”

Witherspoon, the 49ers’ third-round draft pick at No. 66 overall, had a pedestrian training camp. Taking his lumps in August showed him what he needed to do to get into real games in October.

“I really turned up my focus, my intent every day in practice,” Witherspoon said. “What I did in camp wasn’t good enough to be a starting corner in this league, and that’s what I learned.

“I really focused on being aware of what it takes. That’s something I implemented these last four weeks -- that every day focus and competing on every single ball, and taking the mindset that no ball’s caught on me. I think that’s really helped my game, and helped these coaches trust me, as well.”

Witherspoon expected Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins to attack him. But of the 25 plays he was in coverage last week, Witherspoon saw only three passes come his way. He surrendered two receptions for 33 yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Just being a rookie, I thought it was going to come, where they were going to be taking that one shot,” Witherspoon said. “I kept waiting for it to happen, but it didn’t happen. Going up against a smart quarterback, I know he saw me out there.

“There were a few times he looked my way in coverage. I wasn’t perfect in coverage, but I think he was looking. And I thought I did a good job.”

Witherspoon (6 foot 3, 195 pounds) is comfortable lining up on either side of the field, which he did during his college career at Colorado. He said he has not put on much weight but he has added more muscle, which has allowed him a better chance to compete physically against bigger NFL receivers.

Witherspoon fully expects to be challenged on Sunday when he is expected to see considerable playing time against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium. Witherspoon figures Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will be paying particularly close attention any time Dez Bryant lines up on his side of the field.

“They’re going to be looking at the ‘rook,’ ” Witherspoon said.

Said Shanahan, “They’re going to try to do that with all our DBs, so I don’t think it even matters who’s out there. They’re going to attack when we’re in single safety, which we are the majority of the time. They’re going to go outside and keep going out there until you stop them.”

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Watch Kyle Shanahan's full sit-down interview with Matt Maiocco on "49ers Game Plan," which is scheduled to air Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine


49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

The NFL fined 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon $24,309 for unnecessary roughness in last week’s game against Washington.

Garçon, who was not penalized on the play, lowered his helmet and struck Washington safety Montae Nicholson at the end of an 8-yard pass reception in the second quarter.

In 2013, the NFL passed a rule that bans the ball carrier from initiating contact with the crown of his helmet in the open field.

Nicholson’s helmet flew off and he remained on the ground for a couple of minutes. He was evaluated for a possible concussion and shoulder injury. However, Nicholson was cleared and he returned to action.

After the play, Garçon and Washington safety D.J. Swearinger exchanged words, and Swearinger took a swipe at Garçon’s facemask. Swearinger was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The NFL fined Swearinger $9,115 for unnecessary roughness.