Is Alex Smith on the verge of his long awaited breakout season?

In 43 career games, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith has completed just 56.1 percent of his passes for 7,029 yards with 37 touchdowns and 43 inceptions.

Those numbers aren’t good for any quarterback, nevertheless one that was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft. But considering this will be the first time in his career that he’ll have the opportunity to work with the same offensive coordinator two years in a row, good things might be on the horizon for the former Utah product.

Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye is giving Smith more responsibility this year, including setting alignments and reading defenses out of the shotgun on third downs. That was something that Raye admits Smith wasn’t ready for last season.

Asked if Smith was prepared to handle that last year, the always honest Raye said, “Not really. He had some idea. Some of it was, ‘I hope I’m right, if not, run to the right.'”

Bill Walsh used to hate the shotgun because it required the quarterback to take his eyes off the defense for a split second when he got the snap. But if it works for Smith, then it works for Raye and the 49ers. It’s time for the team to trust that the 26-year-old signal caller is ready to take the next step and get San Fran back into the playoffs.

One of Smith’s teammates, tight end Vernon Davis, also recently applauded the quarterback’s improved leadership skills.

“He’s talking. He’s vocal. He’s taking control and being that guy you want on your team — a guy who’s going to step up and take charge and handle his responsibilities,” Davis said.

Outside of shaky performances against the Cardinals (Week 14) and Eagles (Week 15) in back to back weeks late in the year, Smith played very well last season after taking over for Shaun Hill in a Week 7 game against the Texans. It’s early, but things look to be aligning for the sixth-year quarterback.

I like Smith this year as part of a two-man or three-man committee. In 11 starts, he averaged 214 yards and 1.6 pass TD against 1.1 interceptions per game. He wasn’t brilliant, but he was for the most part solid, and with an offseason to work with Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, Smith should perform well in good matchups. I’d expect him to finish somewhere in the QB10 to QB17 range, which makes him a prime target for a QBBC.

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Crabtree, 49ers to renew contract discussions reports that wide receiver Michael Crabtree has agreed to reopen contract discussions over the 49ers.

Eugene Parker, Crabtree’s agent, is scheduled to arrive in San Francisco on Tuesday. Parker declined comment when reached.
Niners coach Mike Singletary said Monday that he would still like to have Crabtree play for the team this season.

“Any guy that can play and help us win, I would never say, ‘No, we don’t need him,'” Singletary said. “We need all the good football players we can get.”

Crabtree, the 10th overall selection in April’s draft, is the only unsigned first-round pick. He has missed the first four weeks of the regular season.

I don’t think Crabtree is dumb. I think he got dumb advice from his dumb agent who only now realizes how bad a mistake he’s made with his client’s future. If I were Crabtree, I’d fire Parker immediately to ensure he doesn’t screw this deal up even more than he already has.

Parker and Crabtree played Russian roulette and lost. At 3-1, the 49ers have proven that they don’t need him to win and had Crabtree held out any longer, I’m sure the front office was thinking about cutting their losses and using that money to re-sign players like Patrick Willis.

This is a win-win situation for the 49ers. If Parker balks and Crabtree continues to holdout, then San Fran can use the money elsewhere and remove themselves from the situation. If Crabtree signs, then Mike Singletary can get his big paws around his young receiver’s neck and strangle some sense into him.

Either way, this is a positive for a Niner team that has a lot of hope building on this young season.

Warning signs were there about Crabtree

In an article written by Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports, several unnamed NFL front office people said that there were warning signs before the draft that receiver Michael Crabtree was going to be a problem to sign.

He wasn’t alone in that cynicism. While public and media sentiment have been overwhelmingly against Crabtree and Parker, all seven executives agreed the impasse marks a significant failure by the 49ers, too. While second-guessing is easy in hindsight, it didn’t stop some from suggesting that they saw a nasty impasse coming as soon as Crabtree slipped out of the top five and then had Oakland’s Darrius Heyward-Bey(notes) selected in front of him at No. 7 – particularly considering Crabtree was represented by Parker, who has a history of holdouts with draft picks.

“[Crabtree] didn’t even work out for teams, and he still had it in his mind that he was the best player in the draft,” the NFC North executive said. “People were in his ear telling him that from jump street. Honestly, I thought it could have been a problem if Seattle would have taken him [at No. 4]. Then they would have been asking for No. 1 money.”

Added an NFC general manager: “He was represented by Eugene Parker. That was kind of a giveaway right there.”

There was a report that surfaced before the draft that Eric Mangini of the Browns was so turned off by Crabtree’s attitude during a pre-draft visit that the Cleveland head coach said that he wouldn’t select the Texas Tech product at No. 5. So obviously there’s a lot of truth behind the notion that the 49ers should have known that Crabtree was going to be a problem.

That said, what where they supposed to do? Nobody is arguing Crabtree’s athletic ability; he was a top 5 talent that slipped to No. 10 and San Fran had a major need for a receiver. Even if they did think he would holdout, I doubt they believed it would go into the season like it has.

So yeah, there were warning signs. But I still don’t blame the 49ers for taking a shot on a dynamic playmaker that fell into their laps at No. 10. If they can get a deal worked out, then Mike Singletary can get his hands on Crabtree and hopefully straighten out his attitude. Of course, that’s a big “if” in terms of getting him signed.

49ers reach out to Michael Crabtree

According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 49ers co-owner Jed York has offered to meet with first round pick Michael Crabtree (who skipped all of training game and has yet to practice with the team due to a contract holdout) in hopes to come to a resolution.

Take this as a good sign that York is putting pressure on Crabtree’s camp to talk. After all, negotiations and dialogue have been non-existent for most of the 50 days of this contract impasse.

The 49ers want Crabtree on the team. Whether they had him rated as the top player on their board or not, there is no denying that Crabtree was not chosen within the first nine picks of the draft.

When the NFL puts together its rookie salary pool – the cap within the cap that places some broad limits what teams can spend on its rookie class – the dollar amount is derived from where each team selects.

Each draft pick is assigned a figure based on where the selection was made. Each pick is assigned a dollar amount less than the previous slot. That, in itself, does not guarantee a slotting system that teams and players much follow, but it is certainly a guideline that has been the standard for as long as anyone can remember.

The 49ers have been more than fair to Crabtree. They’ve offered to pay him market value and he’s refused. They shouldn’t have to pay Crabtree like he’s a top 5 pick when he was selected 10th overall because if they do, then their next draft pick will think he can get away with the same thing.

Every game that Crabtree misses is just another week where he becomes less valuable to the 49ers. He and his clueless agent are playing a very dangerous game with his career.

Rookie Coffee rushes for 129 yards in Niners’ preseason win

Don’t tell 49ers’ rookie running back Glen Coffee it’s only the preseason.

Glen CoffeeAfter rushing for 67 yards on 14 carries in San Fran’s preseason opening win over the Broncos last week, Coffee backed that performance with a 16-carry, 129-yard effort against the Raiders on Saturday night.


Coffee, a third-round pick out of Alabama, gashed Oakland’s run defense, ripping off four runs of at least 10 yards, including a 35-yarder that led to a field goal by Joe Nedney. Coffee, who replaced Frank Gore after one series, finished with 129 yards on 16 carries.

The Niners took a little heat when they selected Coffee over fellow running back prospects Rashad Jennings and Andre Brown in April, mainly because Coffee wasn’t the most elusive or explosive back in the draft. But obviously the young man has shown great toughness and coaches have marveled at his speed and pass blocking abilities.

Frank Gore is obviously still San Fran’s best offensive weapon and their top back. But with the way Coffee has looked thus far, don’t be surprised if the Niners find ways to get him plenty of touches this season.

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