With the playoffs out of the picture, the 49ers are vowing to finish the 2009 season on a strong note.
“You’re disappointed, but we still have two games left. We’re going to prepare just like we have a chance of going [to the postseason],” outside linebacker Parys Haralson said. “When you play this game, you always play like you’re going to give it your best all the time. We’re upset about the playoff situation, but we still have two games to play. We enjoy playing football and we want to go out and play for each other.”
Head coach Mike Singletary elaborated that point even further by emphasizing the importance of the 49ers finishing the season 8-8. The team can do that with wins at home this Sunday over Detroit and the following Sunday on the road in St. Louis.
Asked if he would use the final two weeks to evaluate backups on the 53-man roster, Singletary said that would not be on top of his agenda.
“The last message I want to send is: we want to evaluate before we want to win. We want to win. Every time we step on the field, I want our guys to know we want to win and we want to compete.”
However, Singletary said young players could get valuable experience in limited playing time without having to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. According to Singletary, backups could be involved for a series at a time, but not at the cost of winning.
“Both these games are definitely important, no question,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “I’ve been here five years now and [8-8] would be the best record.”
Despite the frustration of losing another game because of “self-inflicted wounds,” Smith said he undoubtedly feels something special developing in the 49ers locker room.
“I’m not just saying this to say this, but I do feel like there’s been a bit of a mindset change around here, an expectation level, a confidence in what we can do,” Smith added.
More Monday Notes
-Singletary opened his press conference by sharing an exchange he had with quarterback Alex Smith last night. “I owe him an apology,” Singletary said a day after he was critical of his quarterback’s performance in a 27-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. “I talked with him after the game and we had a conversation where I really kind of challenged him on some things, some of those throws or whatever. After looking at it, I have a better perspective.”
-Smith said the talk between the two was a positive one for him as well. “He did [apologize]. He doesn’t owe me an apology though,” Smith added. “We were all disappointed with yesterday. That wasn’t the only thing we talked about. The point is to get better moving on. It was a good talk. I did take a lot away from it.”
-Singletary went on to detail each of Smith’s first-half interceptions. According to the head coach, tight end Vernon Davis could have made a better play on Smith’s first interception that was picked off deep over-the-middle by Eagles safety Quintin Mikell. “I think the ball was there. It’s just one of those situations where Vernon either has to make that play, or either he has to stop that DB from making that play. He’s got to help the quarterback as well,” Singletary said.
-The second interception was due to a “trap coverage,” in which the Eagles baited Smith into throwing to Davis. “It’s a trap coverage where you’re throwing the ball on timing, and it looks like the receiver, or the defender is going with that receiver, and you come back and get in front of the second guy that the quarterback is going to try and throw the ball to because he feels that either the corner or the safety has run off, but they come back.”
-Singletary had no grandiose explanation for the final Smith turnover, other than it “was just a poor decision.” Smith tried to dump the ball off while he was getting hit in the pocket. Singletary said it was Smith’s fault for trying to force the issue.
-The 49ers head coach expressed remorse for not getting the ball in the hands of Frank Gore more often, who finished with a game-high 16 carries for 107 yards. ‘I thought Frank ran the ball well when he had the opportunity,” Singletary said. “It’s a shame we couldn’t have gotten him the ball more last night. That’s kind of the way we were built in thinking this week, running the ball a little bit more this week because they’re a smaller front. When we got behind – which is what they’re built for, coming from behind, rushing the passer, stunting, those kinds of things – they got to do what they do more than we did. That’s kind of the situation there.”
-The game’s injury report included, kicker Joe Nedney who re-injured a hamstring injury on a kick-off following his 25-yard field goal. Nedney underwent an MRI on Monday, with results to be determined. Singletary said if Nedney can’t play against Detroit, the team would likely bring someone in to handle the kicking duties. Singletary noted that he didn’t think punter Andy Lee could handle duel kicking responsibilities.
-Other than Nedney, rookie running back Glen Coffee had a thigh strain and also underwent an MRI on Monday. Singletary noted that left tackle Joe Staley was feeling fine after his first start in months.
-In other injury news, cornerback Nate Clements is unsure if he’ll return this season. He has been rehabbing diligently to return to the 49ers lineup, but isn’t sure if he’ll be able to participate in either of the final two games of the season. He’ll have to undergo one last MRI to make sure his fractured scapula is completely healed. “I’m taking it one day at a time, just doing what the trainers having me doing for rehab. I’m trying to get my shoulder back right,” Clements said. “Right now the range of motion is good, strength-wise; I’m kind of weaker there. I think it comes with time and the healing of the bone.”
-It’s been the longest period of games missed in Clements’ nine-year NFL career. “I missed one game last year, but this is the first time where I’ve been out a consistent period of time. It’s been frustrating not being out there to help the team.”
Tags: Alex Smith, Frank Gore, Joe Nedney, Joe Staley, Nate Clements, Parys Haralson
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