Former Ute Smith appears to be good fit for former Cougar coaches' system

By Adam Teicher

The Kansas City Star (MCT)

Published: Monday, April 1 2013 9:45 a.m. MDT

The veteran quarterback market, whether through trade or free agency, was thin this season. The Chiefs also have the first pick in the April 25-27 NFL Draft but obviously felt more strongly about Smith than the top available college quarterback, Geno Smith of West Virginia.

Reid indicated that Alex Smith's football IQ, among other things, helped him stand out.

"Everybody is given a different load according to how many gigabytes they can handle," Reid said. "He seemed to handle everything. They're all different. He does it very well.

"He's won a lot of games and his QB rating has been off the charts. I would tell you that he has the intangibles, the leadership and the work ethic and the smarts that you need to do well."

During the early years of his career, Smith looked as if he would be one of the NFL Draft's notorious busts. The 49ers repeatedly changed offensive coaches and systems, which the Chiefs also did with Cassel.

Once Jim Harbaugh joined the 49ers as head coach in 2011 and provided some stability, Smith persevered and eventually flourished. But Reid saw something in Smith even during those ragged seasons with the 49ers. Reid more than once tried to interest the 49ers in trading Smith to the Eagles.

"He was the product of a lot of different information during those years," Dilfer said. "When you don't have coaching stability and system stability, you get a lot of input — and sometimes it's hard to filter it all. I'll say this about Alex: He needs structure and he needs routine and he needs clarity and he needs big answers. He's smart, so smart, off-the-charts smart. Because of that, his mind works a certain way. He doesn't do well with a lack of direction.

"When you're switching coaches all the time and each coach has a different message, he wasn't supplied all the things that he needs. It's not like Jim came in and sprinkled pixie dust on Alex. But he gave Alex structure and (49ers offensive coordinator) Greg Roman gave him structure. There was a tight plan, and when Alex has that, he's going to execute it as well as anybody."

Dilfer played for five NFL teams during his career, but never the Eagles. While he never played for Reid, he did play in Seattle under Mike Holmgren, who gave Reid his first NFL coaching job as an assistant with the Green Bay Packers.

In Green Bay, Reid adopted much of Holmgren's methods and offensive system. Having hired Doug Pederson as a first-time offensive coordinator, and Matt Nagy as a rookie quarterbacks coach, Reid will call the Chiefs' offensive plays and retain considerable influence over the offense ... and, by extension, Smith.

"Alex will embrace Andy's way of doing things," Dilfer said. "He'll do well there. Andy has a way of making simple what to other people can be very complex. His messages to the quarterback are very clean. You need to have a system that complements the skill sets of his players. Andy provides a system that complements anyone's skill set. It's hard not to be successful in Andy's system. You have 10 completions before the game even starts."

Asked to elaborate, Dilfer said, "Andy is really good with his offense at utilizing space on the football field. When you use the space wisely, especially horizontally, it's hard (for opponents) to defend the short passing game. It's very hard, especially with today's rules, where you can't really jam a receiver and you can't hit anybody. So short, in-breaking routes are virtually unstoppable against certain defensive looks.

"Then Andy does as good a job in the screen game as anybody. He does a great job of finding matchups where his guy is better than the other guys. His teams do such a good job training the rhythm-and-timing part of it. There's synergy between the quarterback's drops and the receiver's depth. That's just a little nuance of a good passing team. You add all that up and throw in the way Andy calls a game — he calls passes on first down, when he gets more balanced looks from the defense, and he likes to throw it more than run it — there are 10 gimmes out there every game."

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