49ers

Torrey Smith confident 49ers will turn it around -- with or without him

Torrey Smith confident 49ers will turn it around -- with or without him

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers have made one big-money, first-day splash in free agency under embattled general manager Trent Baalke.

That came in March of 2015, when the team signed wide receiver Torrey Smith to a five-year, $40 million contract.

The 49ers brought Smith to the organization because of his character and production as a much-needed deep threat in the passing game. Smith has lived up to his promise off the field. This week he was named the 49ers’ nominee for the 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

But the 49ers have gone 6-22 during that time. In the 27 games in which he has appeared, Smith has 53 receptions for 930 and seven touchdowns. He spoke on the 49ers Insider Podcast about the frustration and disappointment he has experienced since coming to the organization.

“There are times when I’ve handled it well and there are times I’ve been horrible,” Smith said. “As bad as things may have been, I just got to look at the light on the other side of the tunnel. I’m trying to be more positive. I was just talking to my wife about it. I feel like it’s a professional test for me.

“That’s why they signed me to come here. And I haven’t been doing that, for a lot of reasons. Sometimes it’s myself. Sometimes it’s opportunity. And sometimes we flat-out miss. The combination of those drives you crazy, but there’s only one thing I can control, and I haven’t been doing a good job of controlling that.”

Smith and safety Antoine Bethea are the only players on the 49ers who have won championships. Smith, whose Super Bowl win came as a member of the Baltimore Ravens against the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII, said he trusts that coach Chip Kelly has the team heading in the right direction – despite the 1-11 record and the franchise-worst 11-game losing streak entering Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.

“We played at a very high level for three of my four years there (with the Ravens), and you know what it looks like when it’s right,” Smith said. “It’s a feel you get. It’s the way things are operating. It’s the way leadership is. I can’t really describe it, but you know what it looks like. It’s like a well-oiled machine.

“I feel like we have that, but we’re just not performing. There are mistakes involved in that. There’s a youth issue, as well. We’re not getting it done. But I think in terms of the way you’re taught, the way you prepare – which is how you can judge a coach – I don’t feel like we ever go into anything where we weren’t prepared.”

With Baalke’s future with the organization in a tenuous position, the 49ers will have a lot of offseason decisions. One is whether to bring back Smith at his $8 million annual price tag. Smith said he realizes his future is uncertain, but he said he believes the 49ers will eventually turn things around.

“People think Jed (York) and these guys just don’t care or whatever, like they’re trying to tank or blow this thing up,” Smith said. “That’s not the case. Guys are trying to prepare from the top to the bottom to win. Everyone here is working their tails off. We’re just aren’t performing well. When that happens, there’s a lot of criticism that comes from a lot of different directions – as it should. Everyone gets paid to do a job.

“But I feel like when we get it right -- and I can say we, and I’m not even guaranteed to be here next year. You know how the business works. Anything can happen. But I feel like it’s going to be right. I don’t know how long that’s going to take. But it’s not that far away. I’m just going keep saying that. It’s just a few pieces there that we got to get together and be more consistent.”
 

Why Greg Cosell believes Jimmy Garoppolo needs work on his 'quarterback feet'

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USATSI

Why Greg Cosell believes Jimmy Garoppolo needs work on his 'quarterback feet'

Greg Cosell, a senior producer at NFL Films, believes 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo “has a chance to be a top-level quarterback.” But there remains room for improvement from the player the 49ers awarded a franchise-record contract in the offseason.

Garoppolo has a quick release and can throw at a number of different arm angles to avoid oncoming pass-rushers. And while his accuracy underneath was unquestioned during his 5-0 run as the 49ers’ starter last season, most of the time, his deep throws did not reach the target.

Garoppolo completed just 4 of 16 attempts to targets 20 yards or more down the field last season for 134 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions, according to Pro Football Focus.

[RELATED: Greg Cosell: Kyle Shanahan does one thing 'better than any coach in the NFL']

During the offseason program, Garoppolo appeared to struggle on his deep throws, too. Cosell, a guest on the 49ers Insider Podcast, spoke about Garoppolo’s mechanics.

“Because he has very quick feet, I think people just assume he has great feet all the time when he delivers the ball,” Cosell said. “There’s a difference between having quick, athletic feet and having really good quarterback feet. And I think he needs to work on the quarterback feet part.

“I think guys who have that kind of snap delivery, sometimes they don’t step exactly to their throw and they throw a little bit off-balance, and that could really impact your accuracy to a significant degree. So my guess is those are the kinds of things they’ve worked on. Those are tweaks. I don’t think it will prevent him from being a really good player.”

Garoppolo appeared in six games with five starts last season after the 49ers acquired him for a second-round draft pick in a trade with the New England Patriots. Garoppolo completed 120 of 178 pass attempts (67.4 percent) for 1,580 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions.

Cosell said it is important for all quarterbacks to use consistent mechanics when making throws from a clean pocket.

“Think of a major league pitcher,” Cosell said. “They theoretically should throw the ball the same way every time. So should a quarterback unless the defense dictates otherwise. If the defense doesn’t dictate otherwise, the throws should look the same.”

Greg Cosell: Kyle Shanahan does one thing 'better than any coach in the NFL'

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AP

Greg Cosell: Kyle Shanahan does one thing 'better than any coach in the NFL'

There is a lot of hope surrounding the 49ers entering the 2018 season.

Much of that is because of Jimmy Garoppolo.

Much of that also is because of Kyle Shanahan.

"Kyle is one of the most innovative and creative offensive minds in football," cornerback Richard Sherman said back in mid-March after he signed with the 49ers.

On the most recent episode of the 49ers Insider Podcast with Matt Maiocco, NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell offered some high praise for San Francisco's head coach.

"When you look at a Kyle Shanahan offense, I think the thing that stands out the most -- that he does better than any coach in the NFL -- is the fusion between the run game and the pass game," Cosell said. "The run game and the pass game with their play-action concepts look exactly the same.

"And it's very, very difficult for defenses to differentiate the two very often until it's too late. And when you have a quarterback like Garoppolo -- who tends to be a quick decision-maker, a quick processor, he has a very quick compact delivery and then the ball gets out -- I think that just makes it even more difficult."

The 49ers won all five of Garoppolo's starts last season and put up 26, 25, 44 and 34 points in the last four games, respectively. Garoppolo was rewarded with a five-year, $137.5 million deal ($74.1 million guaranteed) -- which drastically increases the expectations.

Garoppolo and Shanahan could become one of the top head coach-quarterback duos for many years.

"When you talk to defensive coaches around the league, they will talk about Kyle Shanahan as one of the two or three of the best in the league when it comes to offensive design and game planning," Cosell added.