Earlier today, I asked Mike Singletary if his players and coaches could draw inspiration from the San Francisco Giants, who spring-boarded their way to a World Series title thanks to a furious finish in the second half of their season.
The head coach replied: “I’m very proud of what they were able to do; what they were able to overcome, the setbacks and what have you; very proud of them, that’s good stuff. For us, it’s a matter of, as I said before, for some teams it would be pressure, but for us it’s an opportunity. And that’s what we see and that’s how we’re going to take the second half of the season.”
Many of the 49ers were on their way out of town on Tuesday, stopping in for meetings and treatment after a 12-hour travel day following a 24-16 win over the Denver Broncos in London.
You’d think they’d had enough travel, but for the players, the opportunity to see friends and family is too good to pass up. Many of them are not from the Bay Area, so getting to see their families will be an important rejuvenation mechanism during the bye week. They’ll also look to get refreshed and focused on the team’s Nov. 14 opponent at Candlestick Park, the St. Louis Rams.
However, there will be an emphasis on film studying during the non-practice week, Singletary said.
“I want them to make sure that they get their DVDs and they think about the challenge and the opportunity that we have when we get back,” he explained. “But at the same time, go ahead and enjoy this time. We fought and it’s been a very long half of the season. I really wanted them to get away and reconnect with their families and loved ones or what have you, but when you come back on Monday, let’s be ready to go.”
The players are due back in the Bay Area on Monday to start practicing for a crucial NFC West matchup.
We caught up with a handful of players to hear their thoughts on how the first half of the season went for them individually as well as team-wide. Rookie tight end Nate Byham was the first to reflect on his first eight games in the NFL. You can read the Q&A here.
Notes and Quotes
Singletary said the only new injury from Sunday’s game in England was to tight end Vernon Davis, who is day-to-day with an ankle sprain. Quarterback Alex Smith remains out for 2-3 weeks with a shoulder sprain and cornerback Tarell Brown (back) is day-to-day.
Center Eric Heitmann was placed on Injured Reserve due to a neck injury and the 49ers claimed linebacker Thaddeus Gibson from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Singletary said Gibson will provide the team with special teams depth initially.
Singletary said the 49ers wanted to do what was best in the interest for Heitmann and the team and not rush him back on the field if not fully healthy. Singletary later said that David Baas’ play at center has been “exceptional,” and that the converted guard, who’d never played the position professionally, has made “great strides.”
Singletary also raved about the strides linebacker Manny Lawson has made saying, “I think I made mention of it before and I had a good conversation with him today. There’s a light that has gone on for him. It’s come on. We talked about it for a few years, you know, what Manny; I think we talked more about what he’s not than what he is and I think he was an exceptional athlete when we got him. And I think sometimes it takes a guy a little time, and for right now, that light has gone on and he’s making plays where he’s not thinking about it. He’s making plays and he’s not coming to the sideline and saying, ‘Well, you know, I was thinking about it and I should have.’ That’s not happening, he’s doing it. And to me, he’s playing the game, he’s having fun. He’s getting into a zone and I’m excited for him.”
Lastly, Troy Smith did well in his third-career start and first with the 49ers. He’s looking to build on it with two weeks of preparation as if he’s the starter. It’s not known whether Alex Smith will be ready for the Rams. Singletary will rely on the medical staff to make the judgment.
But Troy did show a lot of heart in London. On one play, he literally threw his entire body into a Broncos defender to help block for Frank Gore. It was just the football player in him and he said he’d do it again for any of the 49ers playmakers.
“There’s no doubt about it. I want to see Frank in the end zone on every carry. The thing that (offensive coordinator) Mike Johnson always talks about is how every play has a starting point and every play has an ending point. We don’t design plays to get three yards; we design plays to get touchdowns. Every play is designed to score a touchdown.
“We want Frank, Delanie (Walker), Ted (Ginn), Mike (Crabtree), whoever has the ball we want them to score on every single play.”
Tags: David Baas, Eric Heitmann, Manny Lawson, Troy Smith
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