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Monday’s Locker Room Talk

Posted by Taylor Price on November 2, 2009 – 4:14 PM


A day after a frustrating 18-14 defeat to the Indianapolis Colts, the 49ers pointed the blame at themselves for not being able to snap their two-game losing streak, which now stands at three games.

“It was a tough game,” head coach Mike Singletary said at his day after the game press conference. “It was one of those things where we did more than they did. Yesterday was a classic case of an immature team shooting itself in the foot.”

Singletary spoke of penalties and missed assignments that caused the 49ers to come up short, and his players agreed.

“We have the tools, we have the people, we just have to learn how to finish,” running back Frank Gore said.

Although it wasn’t the outcome he was looking for, Singletary felt his team did improve on Sunday by nearly defeating the undefeated Colts.

“We didn’t win yesterday, but we did get better,” he said.

In Singletary’s eyes, his players improved, despite suffering injuries to two key players, one on each side of the ball.

On the game’s very first offensive play, left tackle Joe Staley went down with a sprained knee. Staley underwent an MRI earlier today and the time table for his return will be announced by the team later. Staley was in good spirits in the locker room and was noticeably limping, but able to put weight on his leg.

Staley said it was the first knee injury of football career and the first significant playing time he’s missed since spraining an ankle as a college freshman.

Staley added that he was able to watch the play of his replacement Barry Sims and right tackle Adam Snyder throughout the game and offered tips to them as well.

“I thought Barry did a good job,” Staley said.

Sims, an 11-year NFL veteran with 127 regular season starts, was ready to go when his number was called after the game’s first offensive snap.

“I always draw from my experience,” Sims said of what helped him be ready. “As a backup you prepare yourself as a starter and I started my whole career. I’m aware of what it takes to be the starter. It was unfortunate that Joe went down as early as he did, but at the same time, it was good to be able to get into a rhythm at the beginning and then go from there.”

The 49ers other major injury news on Monday involved cornerback Nate Clements’ fractured right scapula.

“We will not put him on IR,” Singletary said. “If we’re in the playoffs, he deserves to play.”

Clements becomes the third 49ers player to fracture his shoulder this season.

In training camp wide receiver Brandon Jones suffered a fractured scapula and was back in five weeks. Tackle Tony Pashos also suffered the same injury against the Texans, but was placed on IR after.

With this injury, the 49ers expect Clements to be back in time for the end of the season and a possible playoff run.

Clements only has his focus on rehabbing his shoulder to get back on the field.

“I’m just going to focus everything on rehabbing and still staying in on what’s going on with the defense,” he said. “Right now, I have to focus on rehabbing and getting my arm stronger.”

More Monday Notes

-Singletary said a sprained shoulder to defensive tackle Demetric Evans was the only injury to come out of the Colts game, besides the injuries to Staley and Clements.

-Singletary said Tarell Brown will be fine in stepping in for Clements. Asked if Brown can handle those duties, Singletary responded, “Oh yeah, he’s ready.”

-Players on offense were asked about the state of the team’s offense and if going to a spread attack from the shotgun formation would help the team move the ball. Quarterback Alex Smith said answered it best: “I think you want to retain balance. I think you want to be physical, run the ball, as well as at times change the tempo, and spread it out a little bit and then go back to the run. I think those are the things you need to do to be a successful offense.”

-Along those lines, Singletary was asked if he supported the play-calling from offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, to which he responded: “I 150-percent back what he’s doing, absolutely. There’s not one iota that I’m wavering here or there, whatever. Jimmy knows there are some things going forward that he has to learn about our players, what they can and cannot do.”

smith-colts-blog-Singletary was also pleased with Smith’s play.

-“I thought Alex did very well. I was very pleased to see him make some throws. I was very excited and anticipated this game for him because I knew the rush was going to be coming at him. I knew that it was just a situation where he wasn’t going to sit back there and be comfortable and he got outside of the pocket a few times and he made some good decisions, made some really nice throws. Outside throws, up the field throws, post throws, I thought he made all the throws that he needed to make and he just needed to be more consistent. I thought he handled himself very well in pressure situations and I thought he did a good job.”

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Singletary Names Smith Starting Quarterback

Posted by Taylor Price on October 26, 2009 – 12:48 PM


Mike Singletary began his Monday press conference by announcing that two starters in right tackle Tony Pashos and inside linebacker Takeo Spikes will undergo MRI’s today on the shoulder injuries they sustained against the Texans.

Singletary went over the rest of the 49ers injury report from the Houston game and then made an announcement on the team’s starting quarterback position for the 49ers next game at Indianapolis and for the foreseeable future.

“As far as this upcoming week in terms of quarterback, Alex Smith will be the quarterback,” Singletary said.

“As far as, ‘Will Shaun Hill be back?’ and all this other stuff… we’re not going to be a flavor of the month kind of team,” he added. “I wanted to make the decision based on who gives us the best chance to win.”

More Notes from Monday

-Singletary said Pashos suffered a left shoulder contusion, outside linebacker Marques Harris suffered a hamstring strain, defensive tackle Justin Smith suffered a left calf strain, nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin suffered a right knee sprain and Spikes suffered a right shoulder sprain.

-The 49ers head coach touched on the play of his offensive line again on Monday, but he sounded confident that the group would improve its play and reestablish Frank Gore and the 49ers running attack.

“We want to run the ball, but usually they have 8.5 guys in the box, sometimes nine. Sometimes that makes it a little more difficult. When you have an offensive line that has been banged up and is trying to get things right, it makes for not a good combination. But as we build confidence and continue to get better, it will work itself out.”

-If Pashos is unable to return in time for Sunday’s game against the Colts, Singletary said the team would “figure it out,” in naming a replacement.

-Singletary sat in on the team’s defensive meeting this morning to cover some communication issues that have been hampering the unit’s play. Singletary wants to see better results from that side of the ball, but was sure to remind them know how highly he thinks of them.

“We’re a good defense with the opportunity to be a great defense,” he said of his message to the defense. “But because of the communication factor, particularly in the last couple of games, you get guys starting to do their own thing. That’s when you really have to communicate very well, to make sure guys don’t start doing their own thing. We just have to get on one page, relax, settle down and let’s go from there.”

-Singletary said nothing stood out to him from watching the film in regards to the play of Michael Crabtree.

“Nothing jumped out to me, it was very evident yesterday,” Singletary said. “I just wanted to see it on film, just like when you see a good movie; you want to see it again.”

-Singletary spoke with Crabtree earlier this morning to let him know how he appreciated all the work Crabtree did while he was away from the team.

“All of the work he did, all of the studying he did while he wasn’t here – it showed,” Singletary said.

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49ers React to Ulbrich Loss

Posted by Taylor Price on October 19, 2009 – 2:27 PM


Last Friday, 49ers inside linebacker Jeff Ulbrich visited with neurologists to determine the severity of a concussion he sustained on October 4, against the St. Louis Rams.

And on Monday, the news from that meeting caused the 49ers to place Ulbrich on the team’s injured reserve list and sign veteran linebacker Matt Wilhelm.

“We really have a conservative approach to everything we do as it pertains to our players,” head coach Mike Singletary said on Monday. “We want to make sure that we take care of our players because taking care of the players, means we’re taking care of their families as well in the long run.”

Singletary added that Ulbrich will remain around the facility as a mentor for younger players in a similar fashion as cornerback Walt Harris, who has been around often after injuring his knee in the offseason.

“Jeff is the kind of guy that you want around. He’s good for our team,” Singletary stated. “He’s good for our linebackers. He’s good for our coaches. He’s like a coach on the field anyway. Next week he will be here and in the meetings.”

While the 49ers coaching staff might have picked up an unofficial member of their staff, the players inside the 49ers locker room felt a major loss.

“Losing him is like losing a brother. I mean, it is losing a brother to me,” linebacker Patrick Willis said with intent. “I looked up to Jeff and I still do. He’s helped me understand so many different things.”

Since Willis joined the 49ers as a first-round pick in 2007, he instantly had the support of Ulbrich.

“From day one when I stepped out here and I didn’t know anything, I asked Jeff a thousand questions,” Willis said of Ulbrich’s influence. “Not one time did he hold out on me and not answer the question for me.”

Willis was pleased to hear that Ulbrich will remain around the facility and on some road trips, but not having him in full pads in the locker room and on the sidelines will be a shocker.

“Losing him is going to be sad. He was like a warrior in the game to me, especially in the locker room,” Willis added.

The tough task of filling those shoes falls on Wilhelm, who has spent the last six seasons with the San Diego Chargers. Wilhelm was with the Philadelphia Eagles this past training camp, but was released prior to the start of the season.

What makes Wilhelm a likeable candidate is his familiarity with defensive coordinator Greg Manusky’s defense, a system he played in for four seasons in San Diego.

“The meat and potatoes of the defense I know pretty well,” Wilhelm said.

Wilhelm understands both inside linebacker positions, but will have to learn the terminology associated with the defense. Knowing that, Wilhelm wants to help the team in any way as soon as possible.

“Obviously, this is a backup role, because they have two great inside linebackers. But they need someone to come in on special teams and be one play away and learn this defense as fast as they can,” Wilhelm said.

More Monday News and Notes

-Singletary was asked if starting strong safety Michael Lewis could be placed on IR like Ulbrich because of a concussion, but the 49ers head coach said it was “unlikely.” He also stated that Lewis’ return has not yet been determined and that the team would continue to monitor his health.

- Last week, Singletary hinted a possible change on the offensive line. On Monday, he announced the changes.

“Right now, Chilo [Rachal] and [Adam] Snyder will alternate [at right guard], a lot like [Tony] Pashos and Snyder at the right tackle position. We want our best five on the field, and we feel like Snyder alternating with Chilo will be good for us to find out who is best at that position.”

-Singletary has been pleased with the progression he’s seen from rookie wideout Michael Crabtree in the short period of time he’s been with the team.

“Michael Crabtree’s progress is excellent. He’s working his tail off. He stays here. He’s with the coaches all the time and learning the playbook. They’re very pleased with what they’re seeing, and I’m pleased with what I’m seeing and the conversations that he and I have had. With the coaches, it’s been great. He can’t get enough of it. He wants to be out here. He wants to get better. He wants to play and make a contribution. So, that’s very exciting.”

-Quarterback Shaun Hill said he didn’t realize how big Crabtree actually was on the football field.

“He plays much bigger than he appears. When you see him, you think he’s on the short side. But when he’s out there playing, he’s a big target out there. He has very strong hands and attacks the ball out there. I think he’s going to be good for us.”

-Hill was also pleased with Crabtree’s work ethic.

“I’ve been very impressed with how much he’s learned since he’s been here. He came right in and was able to pick it up. If a question does arise, he’s not afraid to ask. I feel very comfortable that he’s going to know everything he’ll need to know for this game on Sunday.”

-Hill said the front seven of the Houston Texans defense has stood out to him the most through his film study.

“Good team. They’re playing well right now. They’re going to be a very good opponent for us. They have a very good front with a great pass rusher in Mario Williams. They just play good fundamental defense.”

-Hill will be aided this week significantly with the return of running back Frank Gore, who has missed the last two games with foot and ankle injuries. The 49ers star runner stayed in the Bay Area over the bye week to rehab his injuries and also help Crabtree get filled in.

“Over the bye week, he [Crabtree] looked very good. He was getting the plays. Now we’re fully-loaded as an offense and on Sunday we have to get going,” Gore said. “I feel like a kid right now, I can’t wait to get back out there with my team.”

-Gore said he wasn’t concerned about out-scoring the Texans’ high-powered offensive attack.

“For us, we just have be ourselves and go out there try to keep the chains moving and score points. If we do that we should have a great chance to win.”

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49ers Take Practice Indoors

Posted by Taylor Price on October 13, 2009 – 5:18 PM


Typically on Tuesdays, the 49ers players have the day off to rest their bodies and spend time with their families.

But that wasn’t the case this week.

With the bye week on the schedule, the 49ers practiced on a Tuesday for the first time since training camp. But it wasn’t a normal practice; the team was forced to move everyone to a nearby indoor soccer training facility with heavy rain throughout the Bay Area covering the practice fields at team headquarters.

“It was like a real cool hangout spot for the kids, that’s what it was like,” cornerback Shawntae Spencer said of the 49ers practice environment. “It was like the gymnasium you would find in a church. It was a little indoor soccer facility with two different rooms. We broke up as offense and defense and went and did our position stuff.”

As professional football players, the 49ers focused on the work at hand and not their unique surroundings.

“Really at this level, you have to get past what your surrounding area looks like,” tackle Tony Pashos said. “You have to forget what the turf looks like; really it’s all about football. It’s about getting the plays right and using the proper techniques. It really didn’t matter where we were at.

“It was something we had to do to adjust to the circumstances and we were good about it. We had a pretty good practice.”

The 49ers went through their normal practice routine just in a different environment.

“We warmed up, did our individual drills, then the round boys would go away and we’d do 7-on-7 stuff while the round boys would do pass rush,” Spencer explained. “Then the round boys would come back over and we’d do the same thing.”

By “round boys,” Spencer was referring to the 49ers linemen.

“I don’t like to call them ‘fat’ and they don’t like to be called that, because they’re not,” Spencer explained. “I prefer to call them by shapes. Everyone has their own shape. You have round guys and you have square guys. For example, [Dave] Baas, he’s like a square guy.”

Both offensive and defensive players were happy to get back on the practice field to work out some of the problems that came up in the team’s 45-10 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

“It was a good opportunity to get back on the field together as a team after the loss,” defensive tackle Demetric Evans said. “It was an interesting practice, but a good practice.”

Although it wasn’t what they’ve grown accustomed to, the 49ers players were certainly glad to be indoors on a wet day.

“Practice outside, that would have been a nightmare,” Spencer explained. “Everyone is already touchy feely about practicing today, because Tuesday’s are usually our off day. You’re sore and then you throw some rain on it and you’re bound to have a fight at practice. If you fight, then you get to running. You get to running and then everything is going to be all bad.

“Today was like a normal work day without the hitting and things like that. Other than that, we did everything we usually do.”

As long as weather permits, the 49ers will be back on their own practice field Wednesday morning.

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Singletary Recaps 49ers Victory Over Seattle

Posted by Taylor Price on September 21, 2009 – 1:41 PM


Frank Gore will be “fine” according to 49ers head coach Mike Singletary. The 49ers starting running back nicked up his ankle in the team’s 23-10 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

“I’m glad to get another win under our belts,” Singletary said in his Monday press conference with the Bay Area media.

Singletary was asked a number of questions on the 49ers most recent game as well as their upcoming road game this Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, who are also 2-0.

“It’s going to be a tremendous challenge and we look forward to going there,” he said.

Singletary was also asked to compare this year’s 2-0 team to the 49ers 2007 team that also won its first two regular season games.

“I don’t want to compare the two teams,” he said. “What’s important about this team is that there’s tremendous character on this team. All of the other things before now – that’s not really important to me.”

What’s important to Singletary is seeing improved play from his players on a weekly basis. At the current moment, a portion of his focus has been devoted to the offensive line. After applying gentile pressure on the unit throughout the week, Singletary said he was pleased with the improvement the group made against the Seahawks.

“They played better and they played more physical,” he said. “They did work as a unit and that’s important.”

Singletary said the right tackle position will continue to be shared by Adam Snyder and Tony Pashos.

Pashos did “a pretty decent job” and Snyder “certainly played better” according to Singletary.

Other Notes

-Singletary is not worried about the lack of production from second-year wideout Josh Morgan. “It will come,” he said of Morgan’s time to breakout. Singletary also praised Morgan’s blocking which allowed Gore to be so successful.

-Singletary on Gore’s career-best yards from scrimmage performance: “I enjoyed it while it was going on. I enjoyed every bit of it.”

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Singletary Pleased After Week 1

Posted by Taylor Price on September 14, 2009 – 1:28 PM


Head coach Mike Singletary just concluded his weekly Monday press conference with the Bay Area media. The 49ers head coach answered a number of questions pertaining to the 49ers 20-16 season opening victory from one day earlier.

“It was indeed an ugly game,” Singletary said. “But it was beautiful to see our guys work through all of the stuff and come out with a win. We fought together and ended up winning together.”

Singletary was pleased that his team was able to go into a hostile environment and come out with a win against a good football team. He also expressed his disbelief in rushing for under 30 yards as a team but still coming out victorious.

“I find it hard to do but that’s we ended up doing,” he said.

Singletary praised several of his player’s performances on both sides of the ball, but called out the play of his offensive line.

“We did not play well up front, but it will get better,” he said.

Despite not being able to move the ball efficiently in the first three quarters, Singletary was pleased that his offense put together a 15-play drive in the fourth quarter that put the 49ers up for good.

“I think the best thing that helped us offensively was that fourth quarter,” Singletary said. “Shaun [Hill] did a good job, everybody settled down and we took it down the field. They really did what they had to do when they had to do it and that’s the sign of something special.”
Other notes from Singletary’s presser:

-According to Singletary, Hill did a good job of managing the game and taking what the defense gave him.

-Vernon Davis, Isaac Bruce, Josh Morgan and Arnaz Battle were highlighted for making “critical plays” during the 49ers fourth quarter go-ahead touchdown drive.

-Arizona’s penetrating defense was a bigger factor than Singletary and the 49ers anticipated. “I think it got to our guys early on but it didn’t on that 15-play drive,” he added.

-Defensively, Singletary thought his guys played relentless. “We did things we needed to do in order to win. Our defense challenged their wideouts,” he said.

091409-willis-blog-Patrick Willis was everywhere. Singletary said his first quarter interception was a result of tremendous coverage that was very well played.

-Singletary also complimented the play of his secondary as well as the pass rush supplied by the likes of Justin Smith, Manny Lawson and Parys Haralson.

-Recently signed tackle Tony Pashos will begin sharing snaps with Adam Snyder this week, so Singletary and the rest of the 49ers staff can evaluate the 49ers new tackle.

-The 49ers suffered no major injuries against the Cardinals.

-Also, wide receiver Brandon Jones will return to practice this week. But, it has not been determined if he will play against the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday at Candlestick Park.

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