From the Truman Sports Complex
Footwork has been on the mind of quarterback Alex Smith as he’s gone through the 2015 Chiefs offseason program.
Smith has been concentrating on being more consistent in his throwing mechanics. Even going into his 10th NFL season, the fundamentals remain a work in progress.
“Footwork is something that never goes away; you are constantly trying to get better with your feet,” Smith said. “For me it’s about working to be more consistent whether under center or in the (shot) gun. It’s something than when looking at the tape from last year I was all over the place.
“It’s (footwork) really so important to quarterbacks. It’s the foundation of throwing and I’m working to get to a point where I’m consistent with that. I think with that you are more balanced and over the long haul you are going to complete more balls and throw better balls. I’m trying to be as efficient as I can.”
Over nine seasons with the 49ers and Chiefs, Smith has completed 60.4 percent of his throws, but in his last 41 games he’s improved to 66.7 percent and last season he turned in one of the most successful passing seasons of his career, completing 65.3 percent of his throws.
Andy Reid and his offensive coaching staff are hoping that more consistent footwork will help Smith feel more confident in throwing the ball further down the field. Only 24 of his 464 attempts last season traveled more than 20-plus yards in the air. He completed just eight of those throws.
“Working with Coach Nags (quarterback coach Mike Nagy) and Doug (Pederson, offensive coordinator) and really looking at my throwing motion here and there and it did change at times,” said Smith. “There are times when that’s called for; you are out there playing football and you’ve got to be able to change your arm angle and do different things.
“This is the time of year where I can work at that and get better.”
Smith is also working overtime to develop rapport with his receivers. Among the tight ends and wide receivers working in the OTA sessions, only a small handful of them were around 12 months ago for these off-season workouts. The quarterback is taking every opportunity whether on the field and in the meeting room to dissect every pass play in hopes of advancing their knowledge of the offense before September rolls around.
“It’s very detailed,” Smith said. “We’re watching it all together â€¦ we’re going through every single thing from the tiniest of footwork and hand placement, how our drop and the receiver’s routes all are intertwined so we’re all seeing the same thing, doing the same thing. New faces are part of the deal and everybody kind of has to pick it up quick. Certainly, I think the only way to get guys up to speed, is be very detailed and we’re certainly that way here.”
Smith has spent a lot of time with Jeremy Maclin, and the quarterback is impressed with what his new target has shown in the last three months.
“He does it all,” Smith said of Maclin. “You can’t pigeon-hole him in any one facet of the receiver game. You can move him inside, you can move him outside. He can do all of those things really well. He’s really smart. He sees the defense and understands what we are doing. He knows what we are trying to get.”
He had some comments on other receivers that have been part of the practices:
Second-year receiver Albert Wilson: “Albert, you see him come in and how hungry, determined, how ready he is for this next season and seizing his opportunity and knowing what he can do. (He) got a taste of it last year, obviously â€¦ he’s come back extremely motivated to go out there and help us.”
Second-year running back/receiver De’Anthony Thomas: “The guy’s feet are remarkable, in and out of cuts, the speed he has, the burst, those are all things that I think that can help compensate maybe since he is a little undersized. All of a sudden guys are scared of his speed, so he does get cushions. Guys are afraid of being able to get a hand on him and all of a sudden he’s going to be gone. He’s got that kind of physical ability I think to make up for that (small stature).”
Draft choice Chris Conley: “His running, jumping and catching is impressive and he’s a really good kid and he comes to work every single day. I think that’s the biggest thing for him because certainly the physical tools are all there. It’s just a matter of obviously understanding what you’re doing mentally, getting into your craft and becoming the best at what you can be out here as a receiver. I’m certainly very impressed with him.”