49ers

Martz: Stabilization has led to Alex Smith's success

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Martz: Stabilization has led to Alex Smith's success

DENVER -- When Mike Martz watches Alex Smith now, he sees the player he expected
Smith to be during their brief time together.Martz, hired as 49ers offensive coordinator in 2008, went through the offseason and training camp with Smith in a competition against Shaun Hill and J.T. O'Sullivan.Smith lost the starting job O'Sullivan, and then he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery before the start of the regular season. Smith never returned to full health after sustaining a separated shoulder the previous season.Martz, who was in Denver on Sunday for a dress rehearsal to prepare him for his new job as a FOX NFL analyst, said he is not at all surprised that Smith rebounded last year with his best season."There've been so many moving parts around Alex during his career that when things got stabilized, he was allowed to develop," Martz said. "When I say moving parts, just the changing of the coordinators, receiver groups, offensive line changes. They've stabilized all that now."Martz was one of those coordinators -- Smith's fourth in four seasons. But Smith never attempted a regular-season pass in Martz's one year with the 49ers."Alex, when I had him, he was just not right," Martz said. "He missed a lot of throws that he normally wouldn't miss. I knew there was something wrong. I didn't say anything to him. And eventually he realized it, and that's when he had his (shoulder) surgery."Under Martz, the 49ers' offense ranked No. 23 in the NFL in yards -- a vast improvement from 32nd overall in 2007. The 49ers ranked 13th in passing yards.Mike Nolan, the coach who hired Martz, got fired during the season. Mike Singletary was promoted to head coach. Immediately following the season, Singletary fired Martz and eventually hired Jimmy Raye.Martz, now retired from coaching, left San Francisco with a high opinion of Smith from what he witnessed off the field."He's really a gifted guy -- very intelligent," Martz said. "He was a joy to work with -- he really was -- because he's a committed guy. He asks all the right questions. I'm very happy for him. He was in it all the time. He followed what we were doing. He was a pro."I never questioned that (his mindset). The only issue I had with him was the accuracy I saw in college and earlier, when I got there, he would miss throws he ordinarily wouldn't miss. I didn't know what to do about it, to be honest with you. I know he got frustrated with it, too. He's just too good of a player."Smith never told Martz that his shoulder was ailing, Martz said.Last season, Smith started all 18 regular-season and playoff games for the 49ers. He completed 61.4 percent of his passes with 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions."The thing you saw with him is that he made some incredible throws under duress, which is what he did in college," Martz said. "He'd have a guy in his face, and he'd stick it right on the guy. When he's not real confident about the throw, he's going to hold it a little bit. That's what he did with me. And he didn't do that last year. He was letting it go."I would've liked to have had him when he was feeling good and everything was good. But that's the way it is. That's the NFL."With a stable supporting cast that includes the return of coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman and talented surrounding cast, Smith is set up to build on last season, Martz said."They run the ball so effectively that anytime he flashes the ball to Frank Gore, the defense is coming toward the line of scrimmage," Martz said. "So the throws he's getting on first and second downs are big, productive throws, particularly to Vernon (Davis). Because the under coverage is coming down to stop the run and they have some big plays."With the additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham joining Michael Crabtree, the 49ers have some options Martz compares to his time with the St. Louis Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf.""That threesome, the wide receiver threesome, will help Alex immensely," Martz said. "We know what Vernon is. And Vernon is an elite player in the league. He just needed more than Vernon."If you can put three receivers and a tight end in there, how do you cover that? That's what we did in St. Louis. Pick your poison. I think they have to chance to do that. Moss does not have line up on their best cornerback any more. They can put Crabtree out there and put Moss in the slot. That's another mismatch."

Cowboys expose 49ers' biggest weakness in bashing: Talent

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AP

Cowboys expose 49ers' biggest weakness in bashing: Talent

If there is such a thing as being “due” in sports (and there actually isn’t, so you can probably stop reading now), the San Francisco 49ers had Sunday coming to them.
 
After all, the anomaly of being the “best winless team in football” based on margin of defeat lasts only so long until the “winless” part trumps the “best” part, because even the Los Angeles Chargers – the previous “best bad team in football” – aren’t the Chargers all the time.
 
So it was that the Dallas Cowboys exposed every weakness the 49ers have with the simplest thing there is.
 
Talent.
 
The Cowboys did everything they wanted, but only whenever they wanted it, in a 40-10 dope-slapping that could actually have been worse than it was. The 49er offense was properly stymied (again), gaining only 290 yards (4.5 yards per play) and the defense was thoroughly Elliotted (as in Ezekiel-ed, who averaged 8.1 yards in his 27 touches). San Francisco’s warts were rubbed until they glowed, and if not for the fact that head coach Kyle Shanahan already knew where they were, he’d have been shocked to see how visible they were.
 
And therein lies the takeaway from another day at Not-So-Great-America. It turns out that the 49ers weren’t very good at much of anything before Sunday except just how far away they are from what Shanahan and general manager John Lynch believe is their destiny. C.J.  Beathard remained the rookie quarterback he is, and Carlos Hyde's hard-won 68 rushing yards led to no scores. Indeed, San Francisco's only touchdown came on a four-yard improv sprint from Beathard, who is by no means a running quarterback except in abject flight.

Next week in Philadelphia figures to be no less grisly, if you’re waiting for that magic moment when “0” becomes “1.” That is, of course, unless Washington exposes the Eagles as less than what they seem, which is very often the case in the new parity-gripped NFL.

But there are subsequent get-well games at home against Arizona and then at New York against the Giants the week after, so whatever dreams you might have about them running the table backwards and getting the first overall pick in the draft are still light years from realization.
 
This is, however, another healthy reminder that the job to be done is at least two more years in the undoing before the doing can actually begin. Not that the players or coaches needed another lesson, mind you – they know.
 
But maybe you needed it, just to keep your delusions in check. Maybe the people who were “due” were all of you.
 
But that’s unfair, too. You didn’t undo this franchise. All you did was believe, and there’s nothing wrong with that – as long you know there will be more days like this before your team starts handing out the 40-10’s.
 
In the meantime, there is beer.

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 40-10 loss vs Cowboys

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AP

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 40-10 loss vs Cowboys

SANTA CLARA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 40-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7 on Sunday:

1. A major step backward
So much for the 49ers’ somewhat-impressive streak of close losses.

There was nothing encouraging about what transpired in the 49ers' worst loss at Levi’s Stadium. It was also the franchise's worst home loss since Mike Singletary's team absorbed a 45-10 thumping against the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 11, 2009.

Was there anything positive to take from this game?

“No, not right now,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It was disappointing. I think all three phases, players and coaches, we’ve got to play better than that, a lot better to give ourselves a chance to win.”

The competitive nature of the 49ers’ past five games was one thing. But with a big home loss on such an emotional day, it is fair to say that the honeymoon is over for Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. The 49ers looked like a team devoid of any leadership, and brings more scrutiny onto the organization’s decision last week to release linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

Now, the 49ers face a crossroads. With another cross-country trip ahead, the 49ers have to regroup in a hurry in order to avoid another embarrassing blowout against the Philadelphia Eagles.

2. Beathard’s first start
Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard certainly was not the reason the 49ers got blown out. In his first NFL start, he showed a lot of toughness, which was to be expected. He was sacked five times. But most of those sacks could have been avoided. He has to get rid of the ball quicker, especially on three-step drops.

Beathard also showed some promise, too. He let the ball fly deep for Marquise Goodwin, who caught four passes for 80 yards. Beathard completed 22 of 38 passes for 235 yards.

Beathard accounted for the 49ers’ only touchdown with a 4-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. There seems to be little doubt it was in the best interest of the organization to begin evaluating what it has for the future with the permanent switch from Brian Hoyer to Beathard.

3. Dwight Clark’s Day
The 49ers, of course, did nothing to evoke any memories of the great teams on which Dwight Clark played. Well, they did look a lot like Clark’s first team with the 49ers.

The 49ers of 1979 lost their first seven games of the season. This year’s team matched that start for the worst beginning to a season in franchise history.

More than 35 of Clark’s teammates off the 1981 Super Bowl team were in attendance to honor a pay tribute to Clark, who is battling ALS. Now in a wheelchair and considerably lighter, Clark delivered some poignant remarks at halftime.

Clark, 60, told his old teammate, Keena Turner, who works as vice president of football affairs, that all he wanted was to see some of his old teammates.

“And the 49ers heard that and flew all these players in, so I could see them one more time,” Clark said.