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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Apparently the man known as “Samurai” Mike during his playing career isn’t very handy with a carving knife on Thanksgiving Day.
“I carve the turkey, I mess it up pretty much.” head coach Mike Singletary said with a smile when I asked him what his typical role was on the holiday. “My wife is still gracious enough to let me do it every year.”
Singletary enjoys helping out as much as possible, just as long as he’s able to spend quality time with his family.
“The biggest part is we just have a good time. It’s my day to serve and try to get my wife to sit down somewhere. That’s what that day is all about for me.”
The 49ers will hold practice on Thursday, but will have enough time in the day to spend time with family and friends. Singletary said in his Wednesday media session that the focus will remain the same while the players at team headquarters.
“We’ll just try and get everything done that we need to get done here in terms of keeping the focus on performing well this Sunday and trying to come away with a win. And at the same time, taking that day to enjoy your family, finding the balance between the two. That’s really it. I’m going to enjoy my family and encourage everybody else to do the same.”
Wide Receiver Josh Morgan #84
-Plans for Turkey Day?
-“I’m not even sure what I’m going to do yet. I’m going to one of these people’s houses and eating something. I’m from the East Coast, so I’m going to go to somebody’s house and eat some good food. Whoever calls me first, that’s where I’m at. Or from my position, I can pick and choose. I can go to one house and eat something, then go to another house and eat something different. I could go to about six houses and eat different meals! I know a lot of people who can cook, so I’m going where the food’s at!”
-Favorite food to eat on Thanksgiving?
“My favorite food on thanksgiving is the turkey of course. I also love the stuffing and macaroni and cheese. I like all of that. I like food period.”
-Any Thanksgiving traditions?
“As a kid, we would play football all of the time on Thanksgiving. All my cousins were there. After we come in, they would wash all of us up. Then we would watch whatever football game was on. It usually was the Lions. We’d watch Barry Sanders go crazy on Thanksgiving. That was our ritual. Both Vernon Davis and I have played on Thanksgiving before. That’s when the high school football championship was in D.C. It’s called the Turkey Bowl. We won of course. I remind Vernon all of the time. He’s upset right now, because my school is in the Turkey Bowl again tomorrow and his school didn’t make it this year. He’s a little upset right now, but he’ll get over it.”
Center Cody Wallace #59
“It’s cool. It’s happened a few times in the past. We’ve always been off for school, so I haven’t gotten to fully enjoy it.”
-What are your plans?
“Practice, then head over to my girlfriend’s house and spend time with the family. Then I get to meet all of them and hang out.”
-What do you do to help out?
“I don’t think they should let me be near the food when it’s getting prepared. I’ll wait until it’s all done.”
-What’s your favorite food?
“Just the turkey and the dressing. That’s the big thing every year and my favorite thing to eat.”
Cornerback Dre’ Bly #31
-What are your thoughts on Thanksgiving?
“There are going to be a lot of guys in the “hot box” (sauna) on Friday and might be doing some extra cardio to try and burn off some of that extra fat that they gained from Thursday night.”
-What are your memories of playing on Thanksgiving while playing in Detroit?
“Normally on that Wednesday you want to eat as light as you possibly can going into a game. You don’t want to go into a game full. But after that game, it was on.”
- Favorite food on Thanksgiving?
“Everything. I always have my in-laws come in to town and help my wife cook. I pig out. I would probably say sweet potato pie. That’s my downfall. Banana pudding too.”
Tackle Barry Sims #65
-What’s the team’s mindset on Thursday?
“The plan is to get our work done obviously, that’s the most important thing. After that, we’ll get a chance to spend some time with our families and be thankful for what we have.”
-What are you thankful for?
“I’m thankful for my family and my friends. I’m thankful for the opportunity that I have to play football in the National Football League. To be healthy, there is a lot to be thankful for and too many things to mention. Those are the top of the list right there. I’m thankful that my wife is doing the cooking. But in our house, each person contributes in their own way. We’ve got certain people who run to the grocery store. We have helpers to help. Everybody’s going to contribute. It’s not just her cooking. But, she cooks a mean ‘bird and we’ve got a big one this year.”
-Do you carve the turkey?
“I’m not a carver. I have carved in the past, but I’m not very good at it. It’s not that fun for me. I worry about cutting my fingers off and I worry about sweating into the food. My role is to bring humor to the situation. I like to come in from a long day and tell everybody that I’ve been working while they’ve been doing nothing. We have fun and enjoy being together as a family. I enjoy having a nice sit down meal. There are only a couple times in the year when we can do that.”
Guard Chilo Rachal #62
“Just to spend time with my family; my son, my mother, and my father and to be appreciative for everything I’m thankful for.”
-What are you thankful for?
“My son. The opportunity to have this job that I love doing the most. Having time to spend with my family.”
-What’s your role on Thanksgiving?
“I’m the person who has to bring in the grocery bags from the car and into the house. I also take all of the trash out. I’ve got to be the handy man since I’m the big man.”
-How much food does an offensive lineman like yourself actually eat on Thanksgiving?
“I do some damage now. It depends on how I approach it. I start with a little bit, then come back with another little bit. Then I go full force, throttle in, goggles on and everything. I knock it down.”
Kicker Joe Nedney #6
-How do NFL players typically spend Thanksgiving?
“I’ve never spent Thanksgiving on the football field. I haven’t done that yet and it was kind of one of those little goals. My in-laws do an amazing, big, family spread. There’s the table that’s really long and one person’s on one side yelling for the salt and pepper and all that. All you see are hands and spoons and forks and all of that. There’s a lot of action, a lot of noise, and a lot of chaos. That’s Thanksgiving in my family now. It was given to me from my wife’s family. It’s a pretty amazing deal. My mother in-law takes any stragglers off the road; anybody who has nowhere to go for Thanksgiving dinner and brings them to her house and cooks an amazing meal. It’s a lot of fun and there’s about four generations of people who are at the meal.”
-What is Joe Nedney doing to help out on Thanksgiving?
“There is a head of the table that the Patriarch sits at and I’m at the butt of the table. My job is to basically keep wine in people’s glasses. Sometimes I’ll go and do some dishes after. I’ll make sure if anybody needs any color commentary during the football games that are going on, I’ll provide some insight because kickers are so knowledgeable about that stuff. That’s my day. Eat a lot of food. Unbuckle the top button. You kind of fall unconscious for a while, and that’s it.”
-What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?
“I love a well cooked Turkey obviously. I’m a big stuffing fan. One of the staples in my families Thanksgiving is ravioli. Ever since I’ve been married we’ve eaten ravioli’s for dinner and it’s become a holiday staple in the family. My daughter, whatever’s on the plate, she’s going to eat. My son sticks to the rolls and anything with cheese in it, then he’s happy.”
Tags: Barry Sims, Chilo Rachal, Cody Wallace, Dre' Bly, Joe Nedney, Josh Morgan, Vernon Davis
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A day after beating the Chicago Bears 10-6 at Candlestick Park, Mike Singletary said nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin has been his most consistent player this season.
That’s certainly high praise, considering the player who lines up behind Franklin is two-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Patrick Willis. But Singletary meant what he said in complementing the play of his nose tackle, who took points off the score board by intercepting Jay Cutler at the Bears 1-yard line.
Known in the locker room for being one of the best dressed players on the team, Franklin became a new kind of trendsetter by becoming the first of five different players to intercept Cutler last night.
“It was fun,” Franklin said of his first-career interception. “But I’m just glad they didn’t get in the end zone.”
Franklin was asked if defensive lineman such as himself imagined scenarios where they intercept a pass and the 6-foot-1, 317-pound nose tackle admitted such things were in fact true.
“I think anybody does on the defensive line,” Franklin revealed. “We’re the guys who rarely get our hands on the ball; we’re trying to knock the ball down. Fortunately, God blessed me to get a pick and I held on to it.”
It was Franklin’s first interception since his high school days at Science Hill High in Johnson City, Tennessee. Back then Franklin was an all-state linebacker who recorded 180 tackles as a senior. Franklin said he would send the ball back home to his mother, Chantini Carter who lives back in Tennessee.
Franklin received even more praise from teammate Jeff Ulrbich who was recently placed on injured reserve. Ulbrich, who remains around the team in a daily basis, interrupted Franklin’s media session to openly share his thoughts on one of the 49ers most underrated players.
“I’m putting this out there right now, anybody that doesn’t recognize that he is one of the top-3 nose tackles in the game right now, doesn’t know anything about football. You know nothing and you shouldn’t be writing,” said Ulbrich as he put his right hand on Franklin’s shoulder.
Ulbrich was asked if Franklin should be in the Pro Bowl this year, to which the 10-year veteran said, “He should, without a doubt.”
More Monday Notes
-After having their longest injury list after the Tennessee game, the 49ers have a shorter injury list following last night’s game. The injury list is: Michael Lewis (stinger), Arnaz Battle (quad), Mark Roman (knee), Adam Snyder (AC sprain), Takeo Spikes (hamstring) and Isaac Bruce (ankle).
-Out of the names mentioned above, all figure to be active for the 49ers next game against the Green Bay Packers. Singletary added that the team will need to monitor Spikes on a day-to-day basis.
-Singletary made a decision in regards to the starting wide receivers for the duration of the season. Josh Morgan will remain in the starting lineup when Bruce regains full strength in his ankle. But Singletary reiterated that Bruce will remain a factor in the offense and will see plenty of playing time.
-One are of concern to Singletary was the kicking game. Joe Nedney missed a 39-yard field goal which could have been a useful three points given the close circumstances at the end of the game. Singletary also said that wind played a factor in him not letting Nedney attempt a 50-plus-yard field goal on the 49ers final possession. Singletary elected to let punter Andy Lee pin the Bears inside the 10-yard line, but Lee was unable to do so. “We have to make those kicks,” Singletary said.
- Singletary was pleased overall with his defense and how they were able to execute the game plan for the Chicago game. “I thought our defense did what we focused on which was creating turnovers,” he said. But Singletary found areas for improvement after watching the game again last night. “We have to continue to work on our tackling on the perimeter,” he added. “We have to continue to keep working at that.”
-In addition to Franklin and others on his defense, Singletary singled out linebacker Matt Wilhelm who filled in nicely for Spikes. “Matt has experience and that helps tremendously.” Wilhelm finished the game five tackles, one of which went behind the line of scrimmage.
-A day after he completed two impromptu shovel passes for big gains, Alex Smith said he too found himself asking himself why he was doing it too. “Those things seem to come in spurts like that. You don’t get them, then you do two or three of them and you even ask yourself the same question, ‘Why am I doing it?’ It just kind of happens when you’re playing in the game, you’re not thinking, you’re just reacting. And sometimes it’s just a quicker way to get the ball out. You can’ always set up and have a form throw so it’s easier sometimes just to shove it to the guy.
-Smith praised backup running back Michael Robinson, who converted two first downs on the 49ers final offensive drive. “It was huge, especially when you’re trying to run down the clock,” Smith said. “We had the lead and it was important for us to change field position and take as much time off the clock as we could. To get those third down conversions to eat up quite a bit of that clock… in the end, those are things that help you win the game.”
-The maligned 49ers offensive line put together a solid performance, helping Frank Gore surpass the 100-yard mark for the 17th time in his career.
-“I think as the game went on we got better,” left tackle Barry Sims said. “It would have been nice to finish some drives off, we moved the ball well at times, but we needed to finish drives better than we did and give our defense a better chance where they do not have to win it on the last play of the game.”
-Sims, an avid golfer, will not step foot on a golf course this weekend with the 49ers having the weekend off. “I’m just going to relax, keep my body fresh and get ready for Green Bay,” he said.
Tags: Alex Smith, Andy Lee, Arnaz Battle, Aubrayo Franklin, Barry Sims, Frank Gore, Isaac Bruce, Jeff Ulbrich, Joe Nedney, Mark Roman, Matt Wilhelm, Michael Lewis, Michael Robinson, Patrick Willis
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