Quarterback Alex Smith checks in with 49ers.com for his last In the Huddle of the 2006 season. Find out what the 49ers starting QB had to say about the season finale.
First up, I'll review Sunday's game and then kind of review the season.
It was a different type of game for us. We started out slow and couldn't get much going until the end of the half there. The defense did a great job and really held them down. It felt like we matched up well against them. We were holding tough. If we didn't give up the big touchdown with the interception by Champ Bailey, that game is 6-3 at the half.
I think we had a little confidence from having played a similar game against Seattle where it was struggle, struggle, struggle the whole first half, and then same thing finally get a field goal at least right before the half. It seemed like we had that confidence to know it can just take one play to get some momentum. That drive at the beginning of the half was probably big to establish that. We got some big 3rd down conversions on the drive and then hit that play in the flat to Moran Norris when they brought some pressure.
That TD was a big play for us because they were bringing so much pressure. When you can burn them like that, it makes them think twice the next time. Even at one point when we took that shot to Taylor Jacobs on the left side, that was an audible and the rest of the game after that, the corner was not trying to give up the game-winning touchdown. So on plays like that where they get burnt, or almost burnt even can change things for you later in the game.
After last year, I think I'm pretty empathetic for rookie quarterbacks. We're all different, we walk into different scenarios so our situations aren't always the same, but I definitely know how tough your rookie year starting can be. Jay Cutler has done a good job for Denver. He brought them back at the end of the game and made some big throws to put it in overtime.
In overtime, we got some good field position with our defense really hanging tough.
We were pinned back on our first possession and we moved the ball with Frank running hard to at least be able to punt and pin them deep. We played a field position game certainly in overtime and it worked out for us because the defense held them and gave us the ball back with great field position there around our 40. I knew Joe has a big leg and kind of knew where we needed to get up to for him. We hit that reverse for 20 yards and got another first down with the throw to Bryan Gilmore and all of the sudden we were in field goal range.
It says a lot about Bryan. He's a guy that the ball hasn't gone to a lot but he's always been there and been ready. He knows what to do, he knows the game plan, and all the receiver positions. Bryan did a good job with his feet of running the guy off and creating some cushion.
It was nice to go in the offseason with a good taste like that, to win like that against a good team like that. It was a win or go home for them and to win that game in overtime was nice. The overtime victory was exactly the kind of statement we had talked about making all week. This is the start of next year, the start of the off-season, the start of 2007.
I really took a lot away from this season. I had a lot of snaps of football to learn from. It'll be great this offseason to come back and break down all of the drives, all the mistakes, all of the good plays and really evaluate everything. It was a good season and a lot to build on.
The more reps and looks you get and the more you play, the better you see things, the more things slow down. It's a huge difference even from week one and week 16 to how I saw things.
This team has made a lot of strides and we'll take another step next season. We've got to play more sound football, but I think the mindsets changes now after this year. You start expecting to win, expecting to succeed, and demanding success out of each other and yourself. That's the next step for us.
I think the great thing about this game is setting goals and working extremely hard for them, and then achieving them. I think that's why we all play. It'll be fun to work for those this off-season. I think it'll be big to have us all here this off-season and just to continue to fine-tune things, throw routes, go out there and get better, work a lot in seven on seven drills heading into camp.
It came as a shock to hear about Darrent Williams being shot and killed the night after our game, and I know that is a very tough way for the Broncos to start of the year. You are playing against them on Sunday and then wake up and hear the news. It puts things in perspective in terms of how fragile this is and how quickly it can be taken from you, not just the game of football but obviously a life. It's tragic. I send my best wishes to his family and the Broncos community. We lost a player in Thomas Herrion last year after our preseason game with them and so I think we know how tough it can be to lose part of your football family.
- Alex Smith
Best and Worst of 2006
Best Play: I think the play in Seattle, where I was able to break the tackle and get out of the sack, scramble and hit Frank who just made a great play on the ball.
Play I'd Like to Have Back: In that last game against Arizona, we had gotten the ball in their territory with a big return and then I had the high ball to Frank and it got picked. That changed the game. We kick a field goal there instead and that game was definitely different. I'd like to have that one back.
Toughest Lost: That Arizona game was the toughest loss. It was a game that we really needed to win and a team we were capable of beating and we didn't get it done.
Best Win: Seattle on the road or Denver. They were both pretty big games for us.
Immediate Plans for '07: I'm going to travel a little just to kind of get away for a brief bit. Mostly I'll be here getting ready for next season.