Handoff to TE Alex Smith Was Meant for Owen Marecic

Much was made of the botched handoff to tight end Alex Smith in the closing moments of yesterday's 13-12 loss to the Cleveland Browns. With the Browns trailing, on 2nd-and-goal from the 9-yard line, quarterback Colt McCoy took the snap and handed off to Smith. The ball immediately shot forward for a botched handoff, and both teams dove for the loose pigskin. Joshua Cribbs managed to emerge from the pile with the ball and Cleveland actually gained two yards on the play, but it was still controversial nonetheless. Why put the ball in the hands of a tight end who never receives a handoff?

"Owen got dinged on the play before and had to come out; I don’t think Coach knew it," Smith said. "I’ve never taken a handoff to the best of my recollection, but I’m a football player and I feel like that’s a basic thing to get an exchange and ram it up there for some yards."

In his post-game press conference, Shurmur made it seem as though he was fully aware Smith was in the game and that it was up to him to execute.

(On the handoff to Alex Smith)- "He knew he was getting the football, we needed to execute it."

(On Smith he ever got the handoff)- "We’re going to have to see.  We fell on it.  We were in position to score we just have to execute."

(On his thought process of handing the ball to Smith)- "We tried to hand him the football and he dropped it, that’s the thinking.  For the moment that it was in there, that’s what happened and we’ve got to do a better job.  There are so many things that happened in that game.  Missing the kick, dropping the (ball), there were a lot of things.  There was a lot of good, there was a lot of bad.  I promised everybody that I would be genuine from day one till the last day and I’m genuine right now in saying that.  We can focus on what we want to focus on, but we lost the game.  That’s genuine."

Here was McCoy's take on the situation following the game:

(On the fumble by TE Alex Smith)- "I don’t know what happened.  I have to go back and look at it.  (The exchange) felt fine so I don’t really know.  If I knew I would tell you.  I am glad WR Josh Cribbs got in there and covered it up, but I didn’t even know he fumbled.  I had taken the snap and then I was playing defender just in case something happened.  I saw (the ball) on the ground and I don’t know what happened."

(On if he knew Smith was lined up at fullback for that play)- "Yeah, he has played fullback a lot.  We motioned him back there, he knows what to do.  Again, I don’t really know what happened."

(On if he was surprised at the play call to hand off to Smith)- "You just have to run what is called.  In that situation I knew we were trying to keep it on the ground and there are just a lot of ‘what if’s’."

(On if he thought about calling an audible on that play)- "No."

(On if he has the option to audible that play)- "No."

The fact is, any way you look at it, it is so stupid to hand off to a guy who never carries the ball in practice. Anyone here who has received a handoff from a quarterback knows that it is much easier said than done for a novice to properly receive an exchange from a quarterback. To put Smith in that situation with the game on the line is absurd. If Marecic isn't in there for the play, then don't call a fullback handoff; run a playaction and hit Smith in the flat to see if he can turn it upfield.

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