NFL notebook: Alex Smith wondering how he lost starting job
BY Associated Press
Friday, November 30, 2012
11/30/12 at 5:28 AM
Alex Smith is trying to understand how he lost his job as starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers a month after being named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
It's not an easy thing for the NFL's fifth-ranked quarterback to deal with this week, even though Smith already has experienced plenty of ups and downs in his tumultuous career since the 49ers made him the No. 1 overall selection of the 2005 draft.
Smith spoke with the media Thursday for the first time since coach Jim Harbaugh made Colin Kaepernick the team's starting quarterback for Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams, a rematch of the last game in which Smith appeared.
Smith is now completely healthy from the concussion he suffered in that Nov. 11 game and has been medically cleared to play.
But he'll be Kaepernick's backup for the second consecutive week. Smith is uncertain what Harbaugh's decision means for him the rest of this season.
"I feel like the only thing I did to lose my job was get a concussion," Smith said.
Smith was playing some of the best football of his career when he was injured and left early in the second quarter of the 24-24 tie with the Rams.
He completed 7-of-8 passes with a passer rating of 143.8 against St. Louis, throwing for his 13th touchdown of the season on his final pass. The week before, Smith completed 18-of-19 for 232 yards and three touchdowns during a win over Arizona, setting an NFL record with a 94.7 completion percentage for a quarterback with a minimum of 15 attempts. He was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for the first time two days later.
Smith ranks fifth in the NFL with a passer rating of 104.1 and leads the league with a 70.0 completion percentage.
"You kind of state your case with your play and I felt like I've done that," Smith said. "It's tough. It stings the most just because I really felt there was something special going on here and you sacrifice and invest so much time. I felt like I was playing good football. I have no idea what's going to happen from here. All I can do now is just prepare and get ready."
Jared Allen apologetic for hit on Bears lineman: The hit was so uncharacteristic of Jared Allen.
The Minnesota Vikings defensive end has never been accused of being a dirty player, yet there he was, launching himself into Chicago Bears offensive lineman Lance Louis during an interception return by teammate Antoine Winfield on Sunday. The blindside blow ended Louis' season and drew a $21,000 fine from the NFL.
Allen remained apologetic on Thursday for the results of the hit, but also was steadfast in his stance that he never intended to injure Louis and thought he made a clean football play.
"Just making a block on an interception," Allen said. "Like I said before, it was never my intention to hurt a guy. I feel bad that he got hurt. That's obviously never my intention. But 'Toine's coming up the sideline to make a play. I blocked the guy and sometimes bad things happen."
Coach Leslie Frazier said Allen's mistake was leaving his feet.
"You have to be careful about leaving your feet," Frazier said. "Other than that, it was a good block. I didn't think it was a vicious block."
Players react to idea of using Viagra to gain edge on field: The idea that NFL players might use Viagra to gain an edge on the field left Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs practically in tears - from laughing.
He wasn't the only one.
Players cracked jokes about it Thursday, a day after Bears star receiver Brandon Marshall said he had heard that some players were using Viagra and hoping it would give them an advantage during games. Punch lines aside, experts say it's unlikely the erectile-dysfunction drug would help.
"What would that do? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," Minnesota Vikings long snapper Cullen Loeffler said.
Bears defensive back D.J. Moore wondered if Marshall was kidding and said: "I've never heard of that."
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Viagra is not a banned substance and declined further comment.
Marshall started it all Wednesday when asked about a growing number of suspensions tied to amphetamines, including the ADHD drug Adderall. He said he didn't know much about Adderall, but suggested Viagra could be viewed by players as a way to boost their energy.
"I know guys, it's such a competitive league, and guys try anything just to get that edge," he said. "I've heard of guys using Viagra, seriously, because the blood, it's supposed to thin. I don't know. Some crazy stuff. It's kind of scary with some of these chemicals that are in some of these things, so you have to be careful."
Dr. Olivier Rabin, science director at the World Anti-Doping Agency in Montreal, said it is unlikely Viagra does anything to improve football performance in NFL players. He also said there is no evidence the drug might somehow mask the use of steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.
Rabin noted that research in high altitudes found the drug helped improve oxygen flow in climbers with impaired lung function. That's because Viagra can dilate blood vessels, and vessels in the lung constrict in high altitudes.
Research involving cyclists at high altitudes found similar benefits, but Rabin said studies have shown the drug has no effect on athletic performance at sea level.