Sports

Ex-Pros: SF can't blame Smith alone

SANTA CLARA -- Rich Gannon was one of the millions of Americans who began watching the 49ers' Monday night game against Seattle last week and one of the few who continued watching the 24-0 blowout until the end.

Gannon, who played quarterback for 16 seasons, the final seven in Oakland, is close to his former position coach, Mike McCarthy, and was interested in watching another of McCarthy's former pupil's, Alex Smith. What Gannon saw from Smith surprised him.

"His footwork was not good,"said Gannon, now an analyst for CBS. "There was one play in particular on third down in the fourth quarter. He was late with the throw and the ball was behind the receiver. That ball's got to come out quick. He took an extra step or two. It's like what Mike (McCarthy) used to say -- I don't need to see the throw. I can look at his football and know if it was successful."

Smith, of course, was not successful at all. He completed just 12 of 28 attempts for 114 yards and the performance marked the nadir of his brief career. What struck many former players who watched the game were the flaws in Smith's technique.

Former quarterback Ron Jaworski, calling the game for ESPN that night, said Smith locked his left knee when he threw, which caused the ball to sail.

Former defensive back Rod Woodson said Smith is locking in on one receiver. "He's a looker," said Woodson, who will call today's game on Fox. "He has a tendency to look in one direction."

While many 49ers fans are ready for a new quarterback of the future, the observers feel there's no need to abandon Smith yet.

Gannon, for instance, said the technical flaws are just one contributing factor. Like Smith, Gannon said he had trouble moving from a West coast system to Norv Turner's offense when Turner became the Raiders coach in 2004, and he said Smith has been hurt by having three coordinators in three years. Gannon also said Smith doesn't have a strong surrounding cast.

"I just don't see them winning enough battles," he said. "If you put Peyton Manning in there, would they win a few games? Yes. But would they be a playoff team? I think they have too many issues as far as personnel."

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