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Monday’s Locker Room Talk: Oct. 18

Posted by Taylor Price on October 18, 2010 – 4:00 PM

Alex Smith and the entire 49ers offense has matured over the course of the 2010 season. It just took a win to truly manifest itself.

On Sunday, Smith was patient with the football, often throwing the ball away when pressured instead of trying to force throws that weren’t there. As a result, the 49ers didn’t commit any turnovers for the first time this season in their 17-9 win over the Oakland Raiders.

Smith began the game 8-of-20 in the first half, but improved as the game went on, completing 8-of-10 passes in the second half with two touchdown passes, a 32 yarder to wide receiver Michael Crabtree and a 17 yarder to tight end Vernon Davis.

On Sunday, Smith challenged and encouraged his offensive linemen, more visibly and vocally than seen before.

And in addition to their work on the practice fields, Smith has been throwing before games to Michael Crabtree and the other 49ers wideouts hours before kickoff as a way to improve on-field chemistry.

Timing is everything. And for the 49ers to continue digging themselves out of their 0-5 start, wins like Sunday’s against the Raiders prove that the team is improving as the season wears on.

Smith is, Crabtree is, and so is the 49ers offense. The pregame work is just a glimpse as to the work being put in behind the scenes to right the ship.

“I know I like doing it, the last couple of weeks the guys have come out to throw and I think it does help a lot,” Smith said.

Crabtree agreed.

“We had to do something to get better timing and rhythm.”

Sluggish performances early in the season led to the pregame passing sessions, and since they’ve been implemented, Crabtree and Smith have looked to be playing their best football together.

The past two weeks, Smith has targeted Crabtree 20 times, resulting in 13 catches for 162 yards and two touchdowns.

“I think it’s a credit to him,” Smith said of Crabtree’s increased production. “He’s practiced really well the last few weeks and it has showed up on gameday.”

Another reason for Crabtree’s big day was strong game-planning by the 49ers coaching staff. The 49ers recognized the Raiders propensity to run zone defense to combat bunch sets, where receivers line up closer to the offensive linemen.

Early in the game, Crabtree appeared to be open running a post on the backside of a bunch formation when Smith rolled out of the pocket to avoid pressure. The 49ers went back to play later in the game, and got the matchup, and outcome they had hoped for.

Crabtree was left running free off the line and wasn’t picked up by Raiders cornerback Chris Johnson until it was too late; the ball was out of Smith’s hand and on its way to Crabtree for the touchdown.

Even after the 49ers entered the win column, there’s plenty of work to be done. It starts with solid preparation this week for Sunday’s next game in Carolina followed by a week-long trip to London, where the 49ers will host the Broncos on Halloween.

“There will be some distractions this week, getting ready to pack and go away, but we’re going to have to stay focused on who we’re playing and not look past to London,” Smith said.

Crabtree spoke along the same lines as his quarterback.

“As soon as the game is over you’ve got to get ready for the next one. We watch film and see what we didn’t do right and what we did do right. But I’m just ready to carry it over to next week.”

‘Ice’ Back

Isaac Sopoaga isn’t replacing Moran Norris at fullback anytime soon.

The starting defensive end lined up at fullback for two plays in the fourth quarter and helped the 49ers pick up a first down with a solid lead block on Raiders defensive end Trevor Scott. Sopoaga was inserted by Mike Singletary’s request to help the 49ers gain one last first down to ice the game.

The substitution was fitting, mainly because Sopoaga’s nickname is in fact, “Ice.”

“It’s a great opportunity for me,” Sopoaga said. “It’s an awesome feeling to try something new at the professional level. The last time I was on offense was in high school.”

Sopoaga’s teammates felt the same way.

“That was the best things to see in a game,” said defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, who recorded his first career sack in the fourth quarter. “Nobody was on the bench at the time; everybody was up to see it happen.”

The head coach wasn’t taking full credit for the idea however.

“You got to remember; the whole ‘big guy in the backfield’ started here with (former 49ers head coach) Bill Walsh and (former 49ers offensive lineman) Guy McIntyre, and that’s really where Chicago got it from (with William “Refrigerator” Perry). I just think we wanted to get a big body in there.”

Notes and Quotes

Singletary announced that cornerback Nate Clements (leg contusion), linebacker Manny Lawson (rib contusion), wide receiver Josh Morgan (thigh contusion), linebacker Parys Haralson (calf bruise), defensive tackle Justin Smith (hand lacerations) will all be day-to-day with minor injuries suffered against Oakland. Singletary also said Vernon Davis will undergo an MRI on his knee just to be safe and to make sure everything is stable.

Singletary also said tight end Delanie Walker may be questionable for next week, as he’s recovering from an ankle injury suffered against Atlanta.

Asked how we would handle his players being overconfident for this week’s matchup against a winless Carolina team, Singletary replied, “I think we will not be overconfident. We just have to work our tails off. Right now where we are, we’ve got to work. And we’ve got to do everything that we can to stay focused and keep going in the right direction.”

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Posted in Announcements | 42 Comments »

42 Responses to “Monday’s Locker Room Talk: Oct. 18”

  1. By Robert on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    Keep it up Niners , hard work pays off , we believe , loosen up and let the game come too you . and don’t froget too have some fun out there !!!!!!!!!

  2. By Craig on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    You found a penny Niners. Just know you have to keep it safe before you can cash it in for the big prize. You have to earn it I say. We are with you, the faithful, behind you 100%!

  3. By Dave W. on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    I agree Robert…it needs to be fun. It was good to see smiles on the sidelines for a change after the game. I am still a big supporter of Alex Smith because of stretches like the 2nd half. I hope Mike Johnson can get the offense up to speed and start stretching defenses a little.
    BTY….Westbrook comes in and gains over 10 yards and a first down and I did not see him again. Any idea why?!?!?!?!?!?

  4. By vaa on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    I think we have to not run Gore so much. 15 times a game is fine. get west3wood or our other backs to spell Gore. he is getting up there in carries {Joe perry, et al} and we need him for a couple of more years.

  5. By vaa on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    Go Niners

  6. By Juan on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    I’m with you all on this, hark work definitely pays off so just keep at it and stay focused and things will turn around before you know it, also have fun while playing because it is a GAME, go 49ers.

  7. By Corona on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    I’m a 49ER fan til the day i die. True faithful Niner fan. But i still didn’t like the team i wanted to see. I’m happy we beat the Raiders, but we need a lot more than that. Smith looked ok in the second half, but just ok isn’t going to cut it for a playoff team. we need to be more consistent. Why didn’t we see much of Vernon David like last week? I want to see more Davis.

    Smith does good when he gets mad, but other than that i don’t liek what i see. that’s just the truth.

  8. By califresno on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    I enjoyed watching our offense come together and bounce back in the second half, and I can’t forget our defense for putting it down the whole game. Great job fellas, now let’s go get those Panthers on Sunday and get our second win of the season…..GO GET EM!

  9. By david (va) on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    what QB lead us in the pre-season? was it Nate Davis

  10. By Don Watanabe on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    Give me a break. Both teams looked sorry offensively only difference we made the Raiders defense look good. Smith did not see the field well at all
    when he does see a play he’s too inconsistent. Its not just that Smith isn’t the answer the coaching sucks. It doesn’t take a great coach to come up with a game plan to beat the niners. We have great talent but medicore coaching. Singletarys a good motivator but he doesn’t prepare the team very well. The sad thing is Carr isn’t the answer but he can’t do any worse. The best Quarterback we had Singletary cut and that’s Nate Davis. I just can’t understand how they can’t see the talent he has. We’ll have our spurts again followed by inconsistency. The Big Tuna is available

  11. By ryan on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    Um Don I’m pretty sure Nate is still on the roster.
    Also, when we lose to the top 3 teams in the NFL by a combined score of a touchdown, I think we just have a few small corrections to make. I think that you forget that Singletary has been our best option since the Marriuci era.
    Before you go mouthing off about things you don’t know, go and play the game yourself and actually do some research on our team.

  12. By JR Baca on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    Stay focused, continue to go forth and do what you do best, continue to win games. I think Westbrook needs more playing time, he is very good. Go 49ers, lets win them all. Your an awesome team. More “FAN” support is needed.

  13. By 9erforever on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Don,

    You’re 1 for 2. You’re right on about the coaching problem. You’re a bust at evaluating QB’s; obviously your emotions about Alex Smith affects your objectivity there.

  14. By z9ers on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    Don Watanabe nate davis is availible there have been so many qb changes in the nfl and not one of those teams came to sign the mighty nate davis. All of you people need to realize nate played well in the preseason against backups he was kept on the team last year and couldn’t even step up to earn the back up role there has to be a reason for that.

  15. By gera559cali on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    im glad the niners won, but i still have no trust in alex smith. yea he didnt commit any turnovers but he still does some stupid decisions under pressure. i say if he loses one more game take him out. enough of him. the defense does real good but when its the offense smith just doesnt pull threw. tired of seeing them trail till the 4th quarter and then make a comeback. your not the comebacks your the 49ers!!

  16. By JR Parker on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    Play calling still sucks and proper utilization of talent is almost non existant.

  17. By Dre Cruz on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    Don Watanabe I totally agree with that you said. I can’t stand Alex smith six years of his bull! I’m sick of watch us suffer at his hand. Not to mention all the great talent we have on offense but it’s getting wasted cause of our sorry qb. We need a good leader for this team and alex isn’t it. I believe Nate davis would of lead this team a lot better. We for damn sure wouldn’t of started this season 0-5! That is not how the 49ers start seasons.

  18. By ALWAYS FAITHFUL on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    Nice game 49ers !!!!!! Nice win!!!!!! One week at a time and one game at a time !!!!!! ALWAYS FAITHFUL !!!!!! WE HAVE YOUR BACK !!!!!!

  19. By David on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    Nate Davis will never be a starter in the NFL. Just saying, because I hear that request too often. Carr is a career back-up from here on out, and Troy Smith is just a guy who won a heisman, nothing more than a trophy holder, ask baltimore. Face it fans, Alex is our guy and he is progressing, albeit really slowly. Just dont turn the ball over, end every drive with a kick. I love that line…Go Niners!!

  20. By Gamebreaker76 on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

    Great the first game the niners won but still alot to prove yet! But hopefully the coach is not going to get after alex smith each time he messes up. This team has alot of pride and it does show. They better be for real now or else this ship will fall! We niners fans are so ready for a good year? But again it comes back to alex smith? CAN HE PROVE EVERYBODY WRONG! You got me???????

  21. By Bad Mr B on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    If Alex can’t get going why not put David Carr in I think it might make Alex wake up. Just to show that we have more than one QB that can get the job done !!!!!!!!!!!

  22. By David Achiro on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    Good win niners… Yes the Raiders would have probably beat us if there starting quarterback and running back were in there. However with that said. Some have said that Nate Davis is better than Alex Smith. I disagree. I’ve seen Nate play brilliantly and I’ve seen him play like a goat. He can run, but has no vision. Some say, put in David Carr. I disagree. David did show some poise in the pre-season, but he was playing 3rd and 4th string teams. Alex is the better choice. Yes Alex is sputtering, however I think he is a work in progress. He did make some pretty good plays sunday. Everybody keeps saying,…. yes, but six years and he still hasn’t got it, Montana got it soon. Montana also had a great coach in Bill Walsh. This is something Alex has never had. If you remember, Montana’s first year was pretty scary too. Alex’s timing is slowly developing this year. I blame Crabtree more. It looks like this guy is the guy that needs to practice. He thinks alot of himself and has really done nothing. Micheal… if you want to campare yourself to Jerry Rice you have to come to practice first.

  23. By KDB on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    Keep working hard NINERS. This is our team this season and the coaching staff. If we have any chance to win anything at all-these guys are going to have to do it, end of story. If they don’t there will be plenty of opportunities to make MANY cahanges. If there is no LOCKOUT-( YIKES)

    I’m done getting on the coaching Staff and will wait and see.

    As for Alex-he’s fine if you give him the time and the Receivers run the correct routes-the kid can play.

    As for Carr-good QB but not better than Alex-Troy Smith—There’s a reason he is 3rd string on the NINERS.

    Nate Davis–Needs to go sell insurance.

  24. By Smuman on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    “Looking past this week”????!!!???? That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. This team is not nearly good enough to even talk about looking one week ahead. DUMB!!! DISAPPOINTING!!! and most important of all…a bunch of losers!!! Especcially the child president…Jed.

  25. By coach-marquis on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    The child president i like that Jed York is sooooooooooo stingy with our money its not funny good game alex ur trying but we need that every week not every six games we will beat the panthers if Gore gets 25 carries plus when he gets his touches we win , but i’m still not SOLD on alex show me some more money bags . I think R GM is SORRY who’s that guy anyway he havn’t said or done anything 4 this since he took office just keeping real !

  26. By Tumbleweed on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    I can’t wait to see this team put together four quarters of good football so far we have only been able to only get two together. When we do we can compete and beat any team out there. This can still be a great year!

  27. By Holistic Practitioner on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    Good work! At least we beat the Raiders! Now we need to get a NFL quality QB for the future, so we can take it to the next level

  28. By PETERD on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply


    Teams must operate under salary cap. They may not spend whatever it takes to sign new talent.

    The Niner web site that posters are using to sound off includes a function called ROSTER which lists all 53 players plus practice squad.

    There also a function called TERAM which lsist depth charts for offense, defense and special teams.

    Using Isaac as FB is a great idea, and lightens everybody up.

  29. By Natural Healing on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    I hear Bill Parcells is available. Why don’t we hire him as a consultant. I think he could be the next best thing to Bill Walsh. We need to return to the glory years again, and we have most of the supporting cast, just need the “skill” position to win the big one!

  30. By bernard on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    I am just Glad that Alex Smith has matured to the point where, all the negative abuse from the “so called fans” have not deterred his growth and willingness to improve. Go Niners

  31. By Jason on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    well lets thank the raiders, cause Lords we would not have beaten any other team. Alex is very much so inconsistent, I saw two more intentional grounding plays. He could have easily threw the ball. Whats up with the rookie rb not getting any playing time or westbroke. 2nd can we see the defense putting a lot more pressure on the other teams qb. 3rd why is my man Mr. ziegler not getting enough reps out there. Josh Morgan sucks. Can we send taylor mays on the blitz. Singletary if you need a real D cooridnator hit me.

  32. By JoJo on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    Taylor Mays has made a difference. Thank you

  33. By Jerry Melrose on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    Turning Point…Glory Be!!

  34. By paul stom on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    that’s ONE!

  35. By Dave T on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    The one thing that is killing this team is Mike Singletary, and here’s why. He is such a young coach in terms of experience he thinks that he needs to be involved in every little detail of the of the offense, defense and special teams. Now he knows defense well so i dont mind a little advice there and special teams is easy to coach, but his biggest downfall so far is giving advice on the offense, IMO he needs to take a page out of Seiferts book of coaching and leave the offense in the hands of Mike Johnson, his staff and the players on that side of the ball. His coaching career will be defined in the next 10 games.

    To all the Alex Smith haters out there, I have a deal for you, you all stop saying “He’s been in the league SIX years”, and those of us who support him will stop using “He’s had SIX different OC’s”. But while we are on the subject, how come when you mention that he’s been in the league for 6 years, you guys don’t mention that he has only started 46, and that’s not because he was a career backup, it because of injury, he was on the shelf from mid 07 through 08 and got his job back mid last year. You haters try to make it sound like he has started 90 games. So do we have a deal.

  36. By 49er in new orleans on Oct 20, 2010 | Reply

    9-7 can win the nfc west. seattle has to finish 8-8

  37. By L.G on Oct 20, 2010 | Reply

    If they get Bill Parcells I will jump for joy! That would burn Jerry Jones haahaaa Problem is he probably wont stick around long. Also this organization wont spend the money. For some reason they don’t want to bring in a power house coach since the Yorks took over or they just don’t get it?

    Did you guys see Alex throws to start the game? Way, way, way off the mark. Then he makes some amazing trows in the end zone? I agree with most everyone he is too inconsistent to go very far in a football season. How do they know the bench QB can’t do any better if they don’t get a chance? Can’t be any worse than the situation this team is in now. In other words they have nothing to lose at this point. Especially if they don’t pull off a win this weekend…

    Every game is a big one now and Carolina has had a bye week to prepare for the Niners so it should be interesting?

  38. By rob on Oct 20, 2010 | Reply

    the mention that 40 plus games is not enough to evaluate A. Smith is at best silly. No other team in this day of the NFL would give a QB thiis much time to MATURE. I agree that when the QB decides who and when the QB gets pulled and not, it’s time to make a coaching change

  39. By jjeffies on Oct 20, 2010 | Reply

    yea it won’t be a patty cake walk with a team that has spent 2weeks preparing 4u. lets play god defense and lets keep the momentum we had going from last week…we just started to click and ran outta time, but we got the win now lets go 3-5 into our bye week with tampa and st. louis after the bye. we should be 5-5 going into ARIZONA on a monday night. we have to do better against the run like last year and o-line pleae play better for our qb, your not making his job any easier. BEAT CAROLINA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. By Franklin on Oct 20, 2010 | Reply

    I must say “Kudos” for the niners. Finally a Win came through, no turn overs. We can keep the momentum rolling, learn the out come of the previous games. Raiders pretty much killed them self but winning without turnovers is a successful accomplishment.

  41. By REX P on Oct 25, 2010 | Reply

    hey i know you guys play hard every play but come on alex grow up and take a hit if no1 is open instead of throwing a pic or getting fumbled


  42. By REX P on Oct 25, 2010 | Reply


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