I have no problem standing by Smith. I have no problem watching him develop, or at the very least hoping he will develop. I know it takes quarterbacks time to become true artists, and true greats. I am not even an impatient fan who felt the 49ers had a team that could make the playoffs this season. But three fumbles? Two flat out drops? This isn’t modern art we are talking about here, this is football. I may not be a NFL player, but my football 101 class certainly taught me “dropping the ball is bad” (I aced that class by the way, if any of you want the notes just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org).
In all seriousness though, there are three ways I believe that the 49ers and Smith can address this fumbling issue:
The first, strengthen Smith’s grip. There are plenty of hand strengthening exercise that will allow Smith to squeeze the ball better, even in cold weather. If Smith can hold the ball tighter, at least in theory, he should drop the ball less.
Second, give Smith slipper balls to play with in practice. Not only will this help him grip the ball but it will be a challenge for the receivers – and at the very least be either a) entertaining to watch or b) allow for a lot of funny jokes about Smith and his lubricated balls (again, that’s email@example.com). If the 49ers are smart they will not just give Smith new footballs which are known to be slick, but wet footballs, cold footballs, frozen footballs, icy footballs, hot footballs, deflated footballs, inflated footballs, muddy footballs – well you get the picture.
Third, being a Canadian I recognize that Canada is inferior to the States in oh so many ways, but one thing we have learned to do is play football in cold weather. Heck, even Jeff Garcia knew it when he wore a receiver’s glove on his throwing hand. The gloves are sticky, and from my experience do not have a big impact on the feel of the ball. Then again, as a Canadian I grew up throwing footballs wearing ski gloves.
At the end of the day though the 49ers are just doing one of the above, (option 2) and not even to the extent that they should be. Both Nolan and Smith acknowledged this is a problem. So why not do something about. Go out and correct it, over correct if you have to, but with only a few precious weeks left in the season do not go about this process slowly. Take action, take all the action, and take it now.
As the 49ers move on to face the Jaguars this weekend a few things come to mind. First, Kevan Barlow should be playing second fiddle to Frank Gore. Why has it taken all season for this to happen? Will it even happen this season? We have all seen that Gore has out performed Barlow but has yet to earn the starting spot. Meanwhile Fred Beasley who was outperforming Chris Hetherington loses his spot as a starter. Something is awry in the 49ers backfield, and the 49ers may not be willing to correct it. Reports are that Beasley will spend the rest of the season at backup fullback.
If you have not noticed yet the 49ers do not have enough healthy bodies at defensive back and receivers to field competitive squads. So have an idea. Play Shawntae Spencer opposite Brandon Lloyd on both offense and defense. Heck, desperate times call for desperate measures – and at the very least we fans can be entertained and ponder the countless opportunities. If Anthony Adams can play fullback, Cody Pickett can play Special Teams, why the heck has John York not announced new stadium plans yet? (again, that’s firstname.lastname@example.org).
Until next week folks, thanks for reading!