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Monday’s Locker Room Talk: Sept. 12

Posted by Taylor Price on September 12, 2011 – 3:03 PM

With Ted Ginn Jr.’s 268 return yards against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday propelling the 49ers to their first win of 2011, it should come as no surprise that the return specialist’s name was a popular topic inside the team’s locker room just one day after his career performance.

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Twitter Talk: Game On

Posted by Scott Kegley on July 25, 2011 – 6:03 PM

 

Monday’s announcement that the NFL and NFLPA had agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement was the moment football fans had been waiting for. It was time to announce…#GameOn.

Immediately, tweets from the 49ers Faithful came pouring in and by noon, #GameOn was trending in the Bay Area.

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On the Phone with Spagnuolo and Bradford

Posted by Sam Good on November 10, 2010 – 5:48 PM

Steve Spagnuolo had the perfect answer prepared, thinking he’d be asked which 49ers quarterback he expected to face on Sunday.

“I was going to say, ‘Smith,’” he joked.

But when the St. Louis Rams’ coach was asked which Smith he expected to see, Spagnuolo’s preparation went for naught. Still though, he said it doesn’t matter to him whether his defense takes the field against Troy Smith or Alex Smith. Both quarterbacks are very talented, he said, and both will present his team with unique challenges.

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Rookies Lean On Each Other

Posted by Taylor Price on May 18, 2010 – 3:06 PM

What’s the best thing about being a rookie in the National Football League? The fact that there’s never just one on a team.

Fortunately for the 2010 class, each incoming 49ers rookie has a handful of teammates dealing with similar eye-opening experiences this week at the team’s four days of voluntary organized team activities. The rookies will have to adapt to their new surroundings and build bonds with one another quickly as they go through their first experiences in the game of professional football.

But after talking with some of the rookies on Tuesday, it sounds like they’re already leaning on each other just fine.

For 49ers first-round pick Anthony Davis, having a fellow first-round pick in guard Mike Iupati around has been extremely helpful as the two face similar challenges.

“Mike’s my boy,” Davis said when I asked him about spending time with Iupati off the field. “We would go over our plays and just talk about the daily things we go through just being a rookie, like getting the Gatorade for the guys and stuff like that.”

The two offensive linemen have their work cut out for them this week at OTAs as they try to learn an NFL playbook as quickly as possible. Davis said he already feels better with each workout amongst his new teammates.

“It’s going well, every day I’m getting a little better at it,” the No. 11 overall pick said. “Every day you have to give it all you got and then the next day you’ll be able to give it a little more.”

Davis instantly picked up on one of the major differences between the pro game and the college game – the concentration needed to be successful.

“Every play is like… if you’re not giving it everything than it won’t be enough,” he said.

Good thing for Davis is that he’s got a solid group of veteran linemen to learn from. He’s even picked up a training tip or two from right guard Chilo Rachal.

“Chilo has been helping me out a lot, just how to operate at this level basically. He’s always doing extra work (after practice) trying to be the best.”

Likewise, undrafted linebacker Mike Balogun is relishing the opportunity to work with the talented defensive players on the 49ers roster.

“I’m fortunate with this whole situation,” Balogun said. “I’m very grateful to come in and play with guys like Takeo Spikes and Patrick Willis. Those are guys who you can definitely learn from. Takeo’s been in the game for years and Pat’s probably the best one in the league right now. It’s a pleasure and I’m grateful.”

And just like Davis and Iupati’s relationship has blossomed, so has Balogun’s bond with 49ers third-round pick Navorro Bowman. The two inside linebackers were roommates at the team’s first rookie minicamp and have continued to build on their friendship since.

“We’re constantly talking,” Balogun said. “After meetings, on the field, when we’re in the hotel, we’re constantly talking because we’re together. We’re always asking each other ‘What’s this?’ or ‘What did you have on that play?’ We have to communicate if we want to get better.”

Notes and Quotes

Greg Manusky wore a microphone at practice today for TV49. Check out 49ers.com next week to relive the practice through the eyes of the 49ers defensive coordinator. It’s guaranteed to have some quality sound bites as well.

Keith Smith came up with the first turnover of the day, intercepting a deep Alex Smith pass intended for Michael Crabtree 35 yards down the center of the field. The veteran cornerback timed his jump perfectly and beat the second-year wideout to the ball.

Vernon Davis always looks fast after the catch, but it seems like he’s running with even more of a purpose once the balls in his hands this year. After a nice deep drag over the middle for a 10-yard gain, Davis flashed his Pro Bowl-caliber explosiveness, darting past multiple defenders as he took off 50 yards down the field. I remember Gary Plummer once telling me how Jerry Rice would run to the opposite end zone after every catch in practice to replicate doing it in a game. It appears as if Davis is trying a similar approach this year. He’s already taken off down the field a couple of times this week, should be interesting to see if it continues.

Reggie Smith became the second player with his namesake to come up with a turnover on Tuesday. Smith was the was the lucky recipient of an overthrown pass from backup quarterback David Carr to wide receiver Josh Morgan during 7-on-7 work.

Later in skelly (7-on-7) work, Morgan made an impressive catch on a flag route thrown by third-string quarterback Nate Davis. The second-year signal caller showed nice pocket presence, stepping up and to his left to make the deep sideline throw to Morgan, who used his big body to shield safety Curtis Taylor away from the ball.

Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye spoke with the media after practice on the state of the 49ers offense. Asked what are some of the things the unit can do this year that they couldn’t do 365 days before, Raye responded: “We’ve come almost 180 degrees from a year ago in terms of the basic, fundamental understanding of the words and the nomenclature of the system and trying to get passed that point. We’ve expedited that part of it so we don’t have to spend as much time on the rudiments of what we are doing, that we can review that and get onto the basic things. This is the first time that they would have had an opportunity to see cut-ups going into the next year. The work they did a year ago, we use that as teaching tools to advance and go forward as we install. So, we have some things that we identify that they are doing good and bad, and so it helps us tremendously where we are starting point-wise from when we walked in here February a year ago.” (Watch Raye’s press conference by clicking HERE).

The 49ers received a special visit on Tuesday from 15-year-old Brandon Dale of Santa Clara, who has been diagnosed with liver cancer. Brandon and his family spent the day watching practice, touring the facility and even met with players and coaches after practice. Brandon also spent time with his favorite player, linebacker Patrick Willis. TV49 caught up with the Dale’s after their visit and we’ll have much more on their experience.


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Monday’s Locker Room Talk

Posted by Taylor Price on November 23, 2009 – 4:20 PM

A day after his team dropped its fifth game of the season by less than seven points and sixth overall, 49ers head coach Mike Singletary hinted personnel changes were on the horizon.

“I am confident that there may be one or two [changes], but I am still looking at the film,” Singletary said.

Although he would not show his cards on the potential changes, Singletary vowed his players would perform better in the remaining games.

“I am confident that this season will be a good season,” Singletary said. “We’ve got six games left. I am convinced that we will play better.”

Despite dropping another game behind the division leading Arizona Cardinals and the rest of the NFC teams muddled in the Wild Card race, Singletary believes the 49ers can still reach their goals.

“At the very start of this season, our goal was to win enough games to go to the playoffs. That is still our goal. That has not changed, will not change. In my mind, we’re good enough to do that,” he said. “We just have to get it done.”

Singletary’s press conference included several questions pertaining to the shotgun formation that the team predominantly used in the second half against Green Bay to score three touchdowns.

“I think, as we go forward, we have to really look at what’s working for him and what works for the offense and continue to do more of those things,” Singletary said of tailoring the offense to quarterback Alex Smith.

Smith too was asked a high volume of questions regarding the shotgun attack, but insisted that the second half rally had more to do with desire than the shotgun formation. (You can watch video from his interview right here.)

“When you’re down that much, there wasn’t much left to do but to go after those guys and try to mount a comeback,” Smith said. “We finally made a few plays and got ourselves going.”

The one play that clearly kick-started the 49ers offense and the entire team for that matter, was Smith’s 38-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Michael Crabtree on a third-and-20.

“I think it did a lot,” Smith said of Crabtree’s first NFL touchdown. “That whole drive, we made a couple of plays and then we were in third-and-long and Crabtree made a big play for the score – I think that got us going. That’s a little bit of what we needed.”

The 49ers added two more touchdown passes in the second half, but never could get the run game going because they were trailing heavily for most of the game.

Looking back at the film, one could infer that the team is best suited to throw the ball from the shotgun formation on every play – but not so says Smith.

That would require the 49ers entering another ‘world.’

“It’s easy to say let’s go live in that world [spread offense] – but I don’t think it’s realistic. I don’t,” Smith said. “That’s something you evolve to down the road maybe. Right now, it’s about finding that balance. Maybe it’s something you go in and out of, but you still have to have balance.

“We have one of the top running backs in the NFL and we need to find a way to continue getting him the ball and put him in situations to succeed.”

Gore rushed for 59 yards on just seven carries, with his best run coming on a 46-yard gain on a delayed draw with Smith not in the shotgun formation, but rather under center.

More Monday Notes:

-The 49ers had their longest injury report of the season following Sunday’s defeat. (Note that names with a * next to them will undergo an MRI Singletary said). *Michael Robinson (stinger), Michael Lewis (quad), Arnaz battle (leg strain), Jason Hill (left ankle sprain), Delanie Walker (forearm contusion), David Baas (right ankle sprain), Patrick Willis (trap spasm), *Marcus Hudson (back strain), Tarell Brown (left knee contusion) and Reggie Smith (abdominal strain) were all named by the head coach to start his press conference.

-According to Singletary, Smith’s injury was not related to the groin injury that has hampered him all season.

-Josh Morgan’s 76-yard kickoff return late in the game impressed Singletary but wouldn’t commit to naming Morgan as the team’s starting kick returner. “Obviously we liked what we saw yesterday. If Josh Morgan is the kickoff returner, then hopefully he’s not returning too many of them in a game so we don’t have to worry about it too often. I just think that yesterday, he did a nice job when called upon. We’ll have to look at that a little bit more.”


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Singletary Serenaded For 51st Birthday

Posted by Taylor Price on October 9, 2009 – 2:51 PM

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At the start of team meetings this morning, Mike Singletary received an extra special birthday gift – all of his players singing happy birthday to him in unison.

Singletary turned 51 on Friday, but said he would not do anything out of the ordinary to celebrate the day.

“I was telling somebody earlier, every day for me is like my birthday. I’m the most blessed man in the world. To be able to come out here and work with these guys every day, then to go home to my family –it can’t get much better than that. I’m good.”

Other Friday Notes

-The topic of Singletary’s press conference quickly turned to how focused his team would be for Sunday after the signing of first-round pick Michael Crabtree.

“I think our team is very focused, very mature and at this point, we’re not going to let anything take our attention off what’s really important,” Singletary said. “Crabtree is in here, fantastic, great, glad we got him. But, we got Atlanta this weekend. That’s been the focus all week. I’m very thankful our guys see it that way as well.”

-Singletary said the only players out of action will be running back Frank Gore, safety Reggie Smith and linebacker Jeff Ulbrich. (Click here to read both team’s injury reports).

-Asked about his comment from earlier in the week in regards to his defense being the least selfish group he’s been around, Singletary elaborated on his previous statement:

“I’ve been a part of some great defenses and too often what happens is this guy is saying, ‘Wait a minute, I got that sack!’ or ‘Give me a chance to make a sack!’ None of these guys ever talk about. They’re always talking about what is the best way to get to the quarterback. Who’s supposed to be here or there – we never talk about that.

“To me – that’s truly amazing. I think that’s one of the No. 1 reasons we’ve been effective. That’s something we have to continue to do because week in and week out it’s all about gap integrity. If you’re doing your job, forget about everything else, just make sure you do your job first then go ahead and try to do something extra.”

-Earlier in the week Singletary said his offensive line would have to pick up their play, and on Friday he re-visited those comments.

“I had a conversation with them letting them know how much I appreciate their ability to work at it. They’re trying to get where they need to go and that’s a great thing to see and it’s going to pay huge dividends down the road. I’m just excited about their perseverance. They’ve been through a lot. I have to remember that at times and make sure I appreciate the small things they’re trying to do to get big results.”

-Lastly Singletary said he has not made plans for the bye week in regards to practice. “I don’t know, I have a couple of surprises for that. I don’t know just yet, but we’ll talk more about it after the game,” he said.


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Singletary Approves of 49ers Character

Posted by Taylor Price on October 5, 2009 – 2:11 PM

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On Monday, Mike Singletary spoke positively about all three phases of his 49ers ballclub and singled out a handful of players on each unit.

The 49ers head coach also commended the performance of his entire team in a game they were expected to win. Singletary referred to the game as a “character challenge,” citing how the team entered the game as the favorite and responded with a convincing 35-0 victory over the St. Louis Rams.

“I’m very proud of the guys and the way they played,” he said.

Singletary opened his Monday briefing by announcing that starting running back Frank Gore and second-year safety Reggie Smith had been ruled out of this Sunday’s home game against the Atlanta Falcons. Gore is out with an ankle injury and Smith is out with a groin injury.

In addition, Singletary said outside linebacker Marques Harris suffered a hamstring sprain and linebacker Jeff Ulbrich had a concussion. Two players who suffered minor injuries, free safety Dashon Goldson and outside linebacker Manny Lawson both returned to action later in the game.

When commenting on the play of his offense Singletary said he thought quarterback Shaun Hill did a good job of spreading the ball around and keeping it in the hands of only his receivers.

He also highlighted the performance of his rookie running back.

“I thought [Glen] Coffee ran hard,” Singletary said. “He just has to continue to get into the groove.”

On defense, Singletary was overwhelmed with the hustle displayed by his defense.

“Defensively looking at the film, guys were running to the ball,” he said. “When you talk about relentless – that’s what you see on film.”

One of the players who embodied that relentless style of play will be recognized on the NFL Network’s “Head Coaches Show.”

Two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis will be highlighted by former 49ers head coach Steve Marriucci on tonight’s show that will air on the NFL Network at 3:30PM PT.


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Singletary Moves on From Minnesota

Posted by Taylor Price on September 28, 2009 – 1:30 PM

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The 49ers heartbreaking defeat didn’t have their head coach down on Monday. Mike Singletary seemed to be in usual spirits during his annual day after the game press conference.

“They just make a football play, that’s what happened,” Singletary said of Minnesota’s last second touchdown pass that helped the Vikings win 27-24.

Rather than dwell on the disappointing loss, Singletary wants his players to learn from the experience and use it to get better.

“I think you take it, you learn for it and you get ready for the next game,” he said. “Winners let it go – they move forward. Losers wallow in it.”

Singletary said his team got better in “some areas” but refused to specifically single them out.

Besides fielding a number of questions relating to the game’s surprising finish, Singletary was also asked about the status of running back Frank Gore.

Singletary said that Gore would have an MRI on his strained right ankle later today. Other than Gore, tackle Joe Staley had a knee contusion and will have an MRI later today as well. Also, safety Reggie Smith suffered a groin injury, linebacker Jeff Ulbrich had a right quad contusion, cornerback Dre’ Bly injured a toe, guard David Baas sprained his ankle, tackle Adam Snyder sprained his thumb and linebacker Takeo Spikes suffered a left leg contusion.

Asked more specifically about Gore, Singletary said the injury was not related to the ankle sprain he sustained against the Seattle Seahawks.

Singletary said he hasn’t determined how long Gore will be kept out of action.

“I’m going to do what’s best for him first, then I’m going to do what’s best for the team next,” Singletary stated.

More Notes From Monday:

-Staley looked good to Singletary earlier this morning and the MRI is more of a precautionary measure.

-Singletary said there was a point in the game where he felt the 49ers running game was getting into a rhythm, but Percy Harvin’s 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown stifled all of that. “We were starting to get what we were looking for in the running game.” After the kick, Singletary said the 49ers “had to get back to the drawing board.”

-Singletary on Vernon Davis’ seven catch, two-touchdown performance: “Yesterday was an improvement for him. I think he’s capable of a lot better than yesterday. Hopefully we will see more of that in the future.”

-Singletary also said the 49ers were not in a prevent defense on the game’s final drive. “We were playing a get to the quarterback defense,” he said.


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It’s Official: NFL Referees at Morning Practice

Posted by Scott Kegley on August 6, 2009 – 3:31 PM

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No penalty went unnoticed at the 49ers training camp practice on Thursday as an NFL officiating crew was on hand to oversee the proceedings.

The officials are in town as part of their annual tour.  But rules change each year, so it’s important for the players as well as the coaching staff to understand what is or is not a penalty.

There are four key changes to the 2009 rulebook.  The first and most publicized is the elimination of low hits on quarterbacks.  This has been referred to as “The Tom Brady Rule,” preventing defenders from rolling up on the quarterback similar to the hit that caused the Patriots signal caller to miss almost all of the 2008 season.

“Everybody saw the hit on Tom Brady last year, which was a legal hit,” league referee Carl Cheffers said.  “This year, if a player or defender is on the ground, he cannot lunge into the knees of a quarterback.  Again, we’re just tightening that rule to try and eliminate injuries.”

The second major rule change also resulted from a season-ending play last year when Steelers receiver Hines Ward stunned Bengals rookie linebacker Keith Rivers with a devastating up-field crack-back block. Rivers never saw Ward coming and missed the rest of the year with a fractured jaw.

“Those kinds of plays, they’re trying to eliminate,” Cheffers said.  “They want them to hit them, they want them to hit them hard, but they don’t want them to hit helmet-to-helmet, because that player is not looking at the blocker and that’s a potentially injurious block.”

While the helmet-to-helmet rule may be new for offensive players, it’s well known by those on the defensive side of the ball.  Even that rule has been tweaked however, expanding the rule to include arm- and elbow-to-helmet contact.

As Cheffers explained, the goal is to limit hits on “defenseless receivers to be below the shoulders.”

“It’s good on both sides,” safety Reggie Smith said.  “You don’t want a lot of injuries.  Then again you have to be aware of where you’re hitting. You’ve got to use that shoulder, I guess, from now on and keep your head on a swivel for receivers also.”

The special teams rules have also been modified, prohibiting teams from using “wedge blocks,” where three or more players line up shoulder-to-shoulder, during a return.

“We require guys to be outside the numbers, outside the hash marks now,” Cheffers said.  “The whole idea is that the kicking team is not allowed to bunch up.  When they bunch up and there’s an onside kick, there’s been injuries with the blocks and the collisions that happen after that.”

While that may be a big change for many NFL teams, it could actually benefit teams like the 49ers.

“We never really did three man wedges,” explained Smith, a key contributor on the 49ers special teams units.  “But for us as a kickoff team, going against other people’s kickoff returns, it makes it easier for people like me and Hud [Marcus Hudson].   We’re on the inside where all those big guys are, so it makes it easier to get down when you don’t have big men, teamed up as wedges.”

While it may be hard to get accustomed to some of the new rules, having the officials out during camp is extremely beneficial.

“It helps us as DBs because we do a lot of press coverage with the wide receivers,” Smith said.  “When we were doing one-on-ones that helped, if we were pressing them too long.  It gives us the little ins and outs that we don’t know that we can do during the game.”

Morning Practice Updates:

It was an interesting morning in terms of weather.  It was pouring rain right before stretch only to have the sun come out minutes later.

Takeo Spikes didn’t take long to heat up either, picking off Alex Smith’s first throw during team drills.

Dominique Zeigler also made one of the most impressive plays of camp.  During drills, Zeigler broke his route to the sideline and despite tight coverage, Zeigler adjusted to the throw over his right shoulder and pulled it down with one hand.

The team will be back on the field this afternoon.  Follow SF_49ers on Twitter and we’ll keep you updated on any more highlight reel catches like Zeigler’s.


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Bly Gets #31

Posted by Scott Kegley on July 20, 2009 – 9:18 PM

Defensive backs Reggie Smith and Terrail Lambert received permission from the league to change their numbers.  Smith will now be wearing #30 instead of #31 and Lambert will wear #41 instead of #30.

CB Dre’ Bly will also be wearing a new number – #31.


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