Alex Smith knows his team will likely need an improved performance from its offense this week, and…
Rain doesn't dampen 49ers' urgency and desire
Still smarting from a 24-13 loss at Minnesota on Sunday, Harbaugh directed a morning walkthrough on the rain-slickened asphalt of a hotel parking lot. Then practice took place in rain at their home-away-from home, Stambaugh Stadium at nearby Youngstown State University.
Patrick Willis, Brandon Jacobs and Ted Ginn returned from injuries to work in full pads, though nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga, nursing a left knee injury, did not.
Harbaugh couldn't wait to work on issues that kept the 49ers from a 3-0 start. He ignored a bus parked in the middle of his walkthrough, then had players slog through rain to correct mistakes.
"I think when you come off a loss, you want to get back to work and make darn sure it doesn't happen again," he said. "That's the mindset we have every day, including today, to work on that mindset in preparation for the game."
The 49ers moved practice to Ohio this week in preparation for playing the Jets at the Meadowlands on Sunday.
A year ago, they came to the area between road wins in Cincinnati and Philadelphia. Harbaugh said then it was a unique experience for a young team to bond with its new coach.
Now in his second season and after a trip to the NFC championship game, Harbaugh doesn't want distractions derailing the same atmosphere from developing. It was business as usual, with an extra helping of hard work.
"The challenge (is), see how much you can get out of today as it relates to preparation for the Jets game," Harbaugh said. "Don't know that there's any rule that it has to be exactly like it was when we're back in San Francisco or even similar. Challenge is to see how much we can get out of today."
Quarterback Alex Smith believes the 49ers are more advanced at this point than a year ago. He cautioned that it won't automatically lead to an eight-game winning streak and 13-3 finish like last season.
"We certainly feel like we're a lot further ahead," Smith said. "With that, nothing's guaranteed. This is the NFL. But for sure I think we would all say we feel a lot more confident about where we're at right now than a year ago."
Smith said he probably should have played with a bit more urgency against the Vikings.
"Looking back, could we have taken more shots?" he said. "For sure, but hindsight it's so easy to say."
Smith said he's getting more comfortable working with receivers Mario Manningham and Randy Moss. Fans expect those two free agent signings to add a more exciting dimension to the offense.
So does Smith.
"Mario was an awesome player when he came here and I think it's not so much the development, just all of us kind of molding and shaping this thing together," Smith said. "It's going to change as we go on."
Harbaugh said Manningham already has contributed as expected.
"He's fit in real nice here," Harbaugh said. "He just has a knack, has a savvy, very talented. High character guy that makes plays."
Manningham, a native of nearby Warren, is spending special time with his family this week. His grandfather passed away last month, and Manningham left the team for a few days back then to with his family.
Smith is still upset at missing connections with Moss in Minnesota, though he insists he will continue to utilize all his receivers.
"We missed, threw the high ball in the corner there, another high ball on the over," he said. "I really feel like we hit those two, we're not necessarily talking about this, especially with him.
"We got a lot of guys, a lot of guys that can make plays, not just those two. Going to continue to spread the ball around and go to the best matchup."
The opportunity could arise against the Jets with star cornerback Darrelle Revis out for the season.
Still, Smith is wary of Jets coach Rex Ryan's ability to make defensive adjustments.
"Don't know what to expect," Smith said. "There's the unknown right there."
Harbaugh listed plenty of attributes about the Jets other cornerback, Antonio Cromartie.
"Outstanding ball skills," Harbaugh said. "Very aggressive. Talented, prototypical type of corner. Big challenge for us."
Along with the challenge of getting back on the winning track.
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