The sizzle coming out of Day 2 of the OTAs was the startling transformation of mild mannered Alex Smith into Barkin’ Big Dog Al. Standing over his offensive minions barking orders, directing traffic, and leaving no doubt as to who was in charge. This metamorphosis brought forth a collective gasp from Maiocco, Barrows, Barber, and Lynch, sending shockwaves through Tweetville. “Never seen this before,” popped forth unanimously from the twittered lips of each.
And somewhere in Florida, Urban Meyer was filing his nails and whistling knowingly. It was Meyer who predicted after Smith was drafted in 2005 that Smith would be dysfunctional until he knew the offense inside and out. But when he did, he would shine. This curse has dogged Smith through the years, as he accumulated a reputation of wimpiness and cluelessness while the 49ers dialed up a new offensive system each and every year, virtually guaranteeing his failure. Until this year. The first year he goes into camp with the same system as the previous year. The change is dramatic and cannot portend anything but improvement for the 49ers this year. How much improvement is yet to be discovered.
Since this “same” system belongs to Jimmy Raye, however, there remain many doubters in the 49er blogosphere as to whether Smith’s new found spunk will make a hill of beans difference. Raye’s first year as OC was not particularly a smashing success. Even those prone to gushing enthusiastically, no matter what the 49ers do, have not been able to muster much rah rah for Raye. Those prone to gush in the opposite direction, however, have found Raye to be a gold mine, ripping him relentlessly for his looks, his age, his game plans, his education, his track record, and his football philosophy.
More shocking than Smith’s transformation, however, was the reaction from the blogosphere. Pretty much a Big Fat Yawn. Unheard of. For three years, at least, any mention of Smith would cause rush hour congestion on every blog in the area. Yet yesterday’s news produced only 23 comments for Barber’s site, 10 for Maiocco’s, 49 for Barrows’, and 85 for Lynch’s occasionally on topic site. These numbers are a fraction of normal Smith related fulminations.
Has the blog world just run of gas regarding Smith? Or is there an eerie premonition that this year is going to be different and people are beginning to hedge their bets? Or are people just resigned to the fact that Smith will be the starter this season, and are saving their salvos for the actual games when the season finally kicks off?
In other camp news, Cody Wallace’s tenuous hold on a roster spot took another hit when David Baas, soon to be ousted by Mike Iupati at LG, took some reps at center. Tony Wragge again took reps at that position, and even did it with the 1st team guys.
And Jason Hill widened his lead over Brandon Jones for the position of first alternate on the WR depth chart. Hill did something unusual. He was visible, making a couple of nice catches. Jones, meanwhile, was seen joining the punt returner candidates – not a good sign.