With the San Francisco 49ers completing over a week of training camp, now seems like an appropriate time to get a progress report from one of the team's most respected veterans. Wide receiver Torrey Smith provided that insight Saturday when he met with the media.
As is the nature of training camp, the offense is going to have its days and the defense will have theirs. Smith said the 49ers offense is making daily adjustments and trending onward and upward.
"I think it's always going to be a work in progress," Smith said. "I think we're going in our right direction, fixing our mistakes, and that's what the first week of camp is all about. You can see the growth that's happening."
The endless chess match features daily adjustments and tinkering on both sides of the football. One practice, the defense will come out with something new. Then it's on the offense to watch the tape and counter.
The pendulum swings back and forth as the team competes against each other on a daily basis, ultimately improving in all three phases of the game. "Iron sharpens iron," is one of the most popular mantras throughout NFL locker rooms, and the 49ers have fully embraced the competitive mindset.
"I think it's tough because our defense is throwing some stuff at us now so that's a lot tougher," Smith said. "It's all about how you handle it. Once we see it we can learn how to handle it the next time. It's still football and we have to be more consistent and that's what we're working towards."
The balance of the daily grind and having fun throughout camp is a tone set by the leader of the receiving corps, 13-year veteran Anquan Boldin.
Boldin was Smith's mentor when he entered the league in 2011 after being drafted in the second round by the Baltimore Ravens. The wideouts spent two seasons together in Baltimore before Boldin came to the 49ers in 2013. Now reunited, they still share the same connection.
"Anquan has given me the same support he's given me before," Smith said. "He's like a brother to me. I look up to him and love him like a brother. He's a great guy. We are just out there having fun. It's loose with some of the characters we have on this team with (Quinton) Patton and Bruce (Ellington). I love the receiving room and the coaches as well. It's going to be fun."
Smith is also working on his chemistry with quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers new quarterback/receiver duo has been seen making plays ever since Smith first put on his red practice jersey during OTAs.
The relationship has carried through minicamp and into the first week of training camp. Now, the two are working on fine tuning the chemistry by watching film together and discussing plays as they happen from the sideline.
"We're definitely still getting stuff together," Smith said. "As the play happens, I always go over there and say, 'Hey, what were you thinking on this?,' so we can get on the same page about certain things.
"It's not like I feel like I'm a speed demon or the fastest man in the world or anything, but sometimes I'm like, 'Hey man, I can run bro. You can throw it up there and I'm going to go get it for you." It's little things that you have to be comfortable with and learning each other's body language."
While Kaepernick is still feeling out just how fast Smith is, the receiver is also realizing just how special of an arm his quarterback has. Smith had a colorful way of describing a Kaepernick fastball.
"It's just a football, except for it whistles," Smith said, laughing. "He has some velocity to it. He's doing a good job and he can really make any and every throw."
With San Francisco less than a week away from its preseason opener against the Houston Texans, Smith is in no hurry to get to the exhibition slate. The 49ers coveted free-agent signing said he wants to be as sharp as possible before taking the field against another team.
The parts are in place and the team is putting in the work necessary to be successful. Smith said he is confident in what this 49ers roster is capable of accomplishing.
"That's one thing this team doesn't lack: Talent," Smith said. "There are some very talented guys here and it's on everyone to go put it together."