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ASAPSports Interview with San Francisco 49ers' Alex Smith

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Thanks to Frank Supovitz, SVP of Special Events for the NFL, Greg Aiello, Vice President of Public Relations of the National Football League, and Leslie Hammond, VP of Media Relations for the NFL, I was able to cover the 2005 NFL Draft. Here's my account - Zennie Abraham, Chairman and CEO, Sports Business Simulations.


April 23, 2005


Q. When did you find out you were going to be the No. 1 pick in the draft?

ALEX SMITH: I had a really good feeling about it obviously had Coach Nolan called, called my table five minutes before they made the selection. I had a good conversation with him and Coach McCarthy, congratulating me and welcoming me aboard and looking forward to seeing me when I fly out there.

Q. The 49ers are one of most famous teams all over. In Brazil, it's the most adored and that's because of Joe Montana and Steve Young who went to the Hall of Fame, and the fans are dying to have joy again. What can you tell to those fans?

ALEX SMITH: I'm excited. You know people talk about the legacy and the pressure associated with it - I think it's the other way around. I think I'm honored to follow in their footsteps. It's only going to provide motivation and hopefully I can carry on the legacy. I feel like I fall right in line with those guys. You talk about smart quarterbacks that made good decisions and got it done, they are winners and they found a way. I feel like I fit that mold and hopefully I can continue.

Q. What did Mike Nolan say to you? Did he tell you why you're the pick?

ALEX SMITH: Not specifically. I talked to him last night and asked him if he'd made his decision, and he told me he made his decision a long time ago, so I felt good about that. I felt like I am their guy and they were the one I was going after. I was the one they were going after the whole time. So truly honored.

Q. What do you know about the players you're going to be playing with?

ALEX SMITH: Not much. Obviously I threw with the two receivers when they came up for my individual work out, Lloyd and Battle, and I met several players when I visited the team. Other than that, I don't know much about the roster.

Q. Does it bother you that you could not pick your employer? Seemed like the 49ers had all the leverage and they made it known, do you wish you could have done what any other candidate could do and interview with all the employers?

ALEX SMITH: You know what, this is a recruiting process, we take visits and visiting teams. This isn't college, though; I don't have a say in it. It's absolutely up to the teams and that's how it works. I don't have any specifics. I would play for anybody here. It's even better it's with the Niners now. Being from California, they are a team I've followed my whole life, and I know so much about their organization, so really grateful.

Q. Can you talk about how it must feel?

ALEX SMITH: This is absolutely overwhelming. You know, first of all to be selected first among the class here, among those guys in the room and then I think to have your name associated, this is something that's going to be associated with my name for the rest of my life, and that motivates me. That's something I'm going to work hard to prove that I'm worthy of the selection, that they didn't make a mistake, and you know, that this was the right choice for them.

Q. Your agent was negotiating with the 49ers during the week. How close are you to signing a contract and where does that stand at this point?

ALEX SMITH: You know what, I think contracts are pretty complex, obviously, and I don't understand a lot of it. That's something I'll have to talk to him about. I don't think it's something that's going to be an issue, though. I feel like we're going to get it done, and this is the right place for me.

Q. Can you describe the situation last night when you talked to Mike, and did you know at that point? Obviously he's alluding to the fact that he chose you a long time ago.

ALEX SMITH: You know, I had a good feeling about it. I've always had a good feeling with Coach Nolan talking to him, I feel like I really mesh with him, but I wasn't going to make any assumptions. I feel that is wrong to go into this day expecting anything. My mind was still open, ready for anything, but it was a very positive conversation, asking how I'm doing and joking around with me. We always conversate well.

Q. Were you at dinner?

ALEX SMITH: I was out to dinner with my family, yes, and spoke to him on the phone. He called and wished me luck, wondering how I was doing through all of this, and excited.

Q. Several of your Ute teammates are going to be drafted as well. Have you been talking to them throughout the week?

ALEX SMITH: I have absolutely talked to Savoy (ph) and all of those guys. I'm excited for them. I was truly honored to play with a lot of great guys in college, and I hope they get a chance at the next level because they deserve it.

Q. Probably you are not thinking about it right now, but San Francisco and Arizona are playing their first regular-season game outside the U.S., in Mexico City. What are your thoughts about playing outside the U.S. and playing in a stadium for soccer only?

ALEX SMITH: I guess I don't know what to think. Obviously it's exciting. It will be different than any other circumstance and let alone, it's the opening game of the season. Hopefully I'm playing in it. That's what I plan on. I plan on going to work and trying to earn my spot. So, we'll see.

Q. Have you spoken with Aaron Rodgers about hometown fun here?

ALEX SMITH: I haven't talked to him after the selection. You know what, it's funny, I think the more we got pitted around each other, the more time we spent around each other and got to know each other. We have a lot in common. He's a good guy. I'm going to have to talk to him about it. I don't know the Bay Area that well, so I'll have to get some stuff from him.

Q. Is there any particular player on the other side of the ball you have thought about seeing line up across from you, somebody, a defensive back, a linebacker?

ALEX SMITH: I guess the guy I would probably say, I'm from San Diego, so Junior Seau was definitely a guy that I grew up watching. It would be something to play against him, absolutely.

Q. You said that Coach Nolan said he had made his mind up a long time ago, with all of the rumors, did you really believe him?

ALEX SMITH: You know what, I think I do, I think you have to. I think as soon as you show your hand in this draft, it kind of takes the feet out from you, especially as a personnel and as a team and as an organization. They had to keep their cards hidden in a sense and not show what they really evaluated. They had to. So absolutely I had to believe that.

Q. What was your level of anxiety up until that call last night?

ALEX SMITH: You know what, I was pretty excited. I guess you could definitely say I was anxious. You know, it was good to have the workouts done. This is a more relaxing time. The workouts were the big thing for me. The combine was a big deal, the interviews. After that, I had done what I could do and the rest was up to them. So, you know, obviously I just hope that I show what kind of person I was, what kind of quarterback I was and where I was going to go in the future. Fortunately the 49ers saw that in me.

Q. What are your thoughts on being one of many guys that are going to be drafted today that have not finished four years of college?

ALEX SMITH: I feel like I have a head start, absolutely. I've been asked that before. You get compared in this draft to the other No. 1 draft picks and, you know, being only 20, if I were 23 and coming out, I could not imagine where I was two years from now, if I had two more years to grow and develop. I feel like I got a jump start in all of this, being so young. It's going to be even better for my pro career. I graduated, so I feel like that wasn't an issue at all. I truly feel like I have a jump start, absolutely.

Q. Being from San Diego, I guess it's an awkward question, but did you follow Ryan Leaf's career?

ALEX SMITH: Absolutely.

Q. Do you want to share with us about that, what he may have done wrong?

ALEX SMITH: (Laughter) Well, I guess I learned a lot then. Absolutely I followed it. That was right when I was in high school and really into football. You know, seeing that happen, you're kind of dumbfounded, here is a guy that's been given this opportunity and look what he does with it. So, absolutely, that will always be in the back of my minds. I'm the type of guy I think I want to be associated with a blue-collar mentality, going to go to work, get it done, going to win games no matter how, and I'm not going to let the money get to my head. That's something I plan on not happening, absolutely.

Q. Who is the quarterback you watched most growing up?

ALEX SMITH: John Elway.

Q. You've played an offense at Utah that was not a pro-style offense, will that slowdown your adjustment?

ALEX SMITH: I think there's two things that will happen from that: Obviously there will be an adjustment period, getting to see eight- and nine-men boxes. Other than that, I think the system I played in is going to help me. I think the ability to make quick decisions, call plays at the line, to check protection, to check plays, to understand defenses and schemes, and like I said, going back to make good, quick decisions, I didn't get time to just sit back in the pocket. I had to throw in awkward decisions and make plays on my feet, and that's something not a lot of quarterbacks get to do. I feel like that's a foundation and a lot of the stuff will be easier.

Q. Can you talk about the anxiousness to get going? You talked about this week as it went on, how you wanted to get signed.

ALEX SMITH: I feel like I want to work out and throw tomorrow. This draft stuff might be exciting for you guys, but it's something that has dragged on far too long. I've been waiting for this day since the Fiesta Bowl, and I feel like it's been a couple of years since then. So I'm excited to get back in the pads, get back lifting and throwing. It's been hard the last three weeks, traveling around with media and interviewing teams. Absolutely, I feel like I want to get to work as soon as possible.

Q. How did you work it out that you able to go through college so quickly?

ALEX SMITH: You know what, when I came to college as a freshman I had actually transferred in 64 AP units, I had two years of college when I was in high school, so in that sense I was already ahead of the game, go in my upper-level classes and able to finish up in two years.

End of FastScriptsÖ.

NFL Draft Part One | NFL Draft Part Two | NFL Draft Part Three | NFL Draft Part Four | NFL Draft Part Five | NFL Draft Part Six | NFL Draft Part Seven

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