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Singletary's Notebook: April 24



Opening comments:**

"First of all, I'm very excited about the draft. I'm very excited about the players that we were able to acquire, draft and bring in. You already know about [tackle] Anthony Davis, [guard] Mike Iupati, [safety] Taylor Mays, [linebacker] Navorro Bowman, I'm very excited about him. This guy is a playmaker. We're very excited to get him where we got him because he's a guy that can give us some depth inside. When you look at [linebacker] Takeo [Spikes] and [linebacker] Pat [Willis], Takeo's been playing a long time. Takeo's always talking to me, trying to negotiate time off practice because after the game he's beat down pretty good. This kid can step in and get some reps and try and get better and really get a good understanding of what we're doing. We have [linebacker] Scott McKilliop. Scott McKilliop is trying to get it. He's trying to get his game together and take it to the next level. It's just taking a little time. [Linebacker] Matt Wilhelm, the guy that steps in at the nickel situation, but this guy gives us depth at either the MIKE linebacker or the TED linebacker, there's some flexibility there. When I talked to him the other day I asked him, 'How much are you weighing now.' He said, I'm about 240.' That's good. I'm very excited about him. I like what I see. He's definitely a playmaker and I'm excited about that. The [running back] Anthony Dixon kid that we have, I'm very excited to get him where we got him. He's a big back. He's a guy that's got great feet, great quickness. [Offensive coordinator] Jimmy [Raye] cannot wait to get his hands on him. When you're trying to close out a game, that's the kind of guy you want in the fourth quarter. When you're closing out a game, that's what you want. [Tight end] Nate Byham, I talked to Dave Wannstedt early on in the offseason and he told me a lot about this young man and his ability to really be a physical guy, and really give us some added protection there at the tight end position. I really feel good about what he's doing. He can also give us some flexibility as an H-back. He can line up and play fullback and go downhill and go and dig out a linebacker. That's helpful as well. Kyle Williams as a slot receiver, quick guy, quick and fast and gives us a lot of speed. That's a good weapon to have. It also gives us some flexibility as a punt returner and a kickoff returner. That was very nice to be able to add him at the place we did. Of course, Phillip Adams, a little more of a raw type corner, but has all of the tools. It was a guy that given the time and the skill to develop, is going to really compete at that position. I'm really excited about him as well."

On whether there will be a running back by committee:"It depends. I think when you look at [running back] Frank [Gore], you have a hard time trying to explain to Frank how some other guy needs to play. He just doesn't get it. I think as time goes on he'll be a little more willing to do that. Maybe this year the touches that he gets, it's a situation where there really is a 50-50, 60-40 or however that works out and he's touching it 20-25 times a game. But we'll see. It just depends on how the game dictates at that time."

On why they did not look at drafting a smaller shifty running back:"Between now and when we start training camp, maybe a guy shows up like that. But as of right now, we just went with the best back on the board at that time. It was a guy that Jimmy really liked and we saw the opportunity to take that."

On whether he was talking about Taylor Mays as a linebacker:"I was talking about [Navorro] Bowman."

On if the draft class is what he wants the identity of the team to be:"What I want this team to be is, you can go right outside this door and look on that wall and it's just five things. It is physical, it is tough, it is relentless, it is discipline, it is smart. When we start training camp or when we have minicamp next week, you tell the guys just look at the board. You think you have a chance, you want to know what it takes to make this team, look at the board. When I look at the draft, I think there's some similarities there. Now, understand I don't want a big, bulky, heavy team, to go out, that's not what I'm looking for. I want speed, I want quickness, I want power and I'd like that with an attitude because I believe that at the end of the day that's what wins. I think the team that's going to hit the hardest, the team that's going to run the fastest, the team that perseveres, that's where the toughness comes in. Everybody goes through setbacks and everything else, but it's that team that sticks together and stays together and fights together. That's the team that's going to come out at the end of the day. That's what we're trying to build."

On how much closer the team is to where he wants it after this draft class:"I don't know. I just know that we're a little closer. How much closer? I don't know. I think we're definitely shortening the gap."

On whether he had more influence on the draft this year:"Did I? I would say yes. I would think it's just one of those things where I always felt when the season is over I get really excited about the upcoming year. I don't want to go into hibernation. I want to know who is it, who's out there? I want to know their stories. I want to know where they came from. I want to know more than them as players. I want to know who we're bringing in here. I've got a vision and want to make sure everyone understands what that is and to make sure that we're all on the same page. We all have different responsibilities, the player personnel guy. I'm going to let him do his job just like I let our coordinators do their jobs, but at the same time, I want them to know that this is important to me. I don't want to just sit down and show me this guy can play and this guy can't play. If I put on the film I may see something different. Let's talk about it, however it is. I think it's just something that I would do anyways. I just love knowing the stories and background behind these guys because that gives me the opportunity to know going forward what they're all about. If I've got the right stuff in them then I've got a chance to have a pretty good football player."

On whether there is one guy he is looking forward to seeing in minicamp:"I get excited about this entire roster, I really do. We've got some intriguing guys and they all have their stories. You look at the Anthony Dixon guy that's been homeless a couple times in his life. Some of the guys have some personal issues and how they deal with those things. Some of the guys have had some negative press. Whether it be [tackle] Anthony Davis or whoever it is, whether it's [guard] Mike Iupati, who had to learn the language and had communications issues. How do we bring all of that together? Our coaches will make sure that we put ourselves in position to bring all of that in and have them learn as fast as they can, have us understand how they learn and how they communicate and how we get to them. Let's get on the same page as fast as we can because that common denominator, when we get to that place, then we can go up together. I'm excited about all of these guys."

On whether it's possible to get too wrapped up in a player's story:"I don't have anybody on this list who has thrown anybody out of a window. I don't have anybody on this list who has stomped anybody. I don't have anybody on this deal who had a gun in a place. I don't have anybody here like that. I may have a guy who's said, 'The guy's a little overweight.' But, that's about all I see."

On whether he's intrigued by guys who he can reach out to:"I'm interested in people. I don't talk a whole lot, but I'm always reading body language. I don't know about other people. I think when you're in this business as a coach, you have to like people and you have to want to get to the place. I want to know, in order for me to motivate them. I can get in front of them and say, 'Hey, we're going to do this.' But if I don't know these guys, if I haven't taken the time to sit down and talk with them and know their story, then how in the heck am I going to get up there and lead them. I can't. I think that, for me, it's not something that – I feel that, whether I wanted to do it or not, I feel that it's part of the job. Part of coaching is motivating. Part of coaching is leading. It's inspiring, but if I don't know you, I can say some great stuff. But if it doesn't matter to you, then I may as well be talking to the wall. And, that's where, to me, it's very important. It's critical. It's vital that I sit down with each and every one of our players and find out what do they want. Where do you want to go? Because, I'm going to tell them where we want to go, and I want to see if there's a fit. And, those are the 53 guys that we're going to end up with."

On how many prospects were brought in before the draft and some of the criteria for ruling out certain prospects:"Maybe 30, something like that. But, really, it's not a time where I'm sitting back and looking at, 'OK, this guy I'm going to judge every one of them, and this guy I don't want, and this guy…' It's just really an opportunity to sit back because every player has a story. And, oftentimes, when you bring these guys in and you have a chance to sit down and talk to them – I'll give you a good example. [G Mike] Iupati. Iupati comes in and the things that we hear, 'I don't know if he can learn it. I don't know if he can do it fast enough.' So, what do you do? Do you sit back and go, 'Well, we better stay away from him'? No. You bring him in. [Offensive line coach] Mike Solari is going to take him up to the board and wear him out, and at the end of the day, 'Hey Coach, this guy can do it.' Now, I don't have to go into a long conversation about it. 'You believe he can do it? Great. Let's go.' [S] Taylor Mays comes in and we get a feel for how he's wired up, what he's about. He leads. You sit down and you talk to the coaches. 'What do you think about Taylor Mays.' 'Well, I look at the film and it doesn't match with the ability. I look at the film, but the guy can do this. He can do that. And, when you look at the workout, it seems he can do this.' Well, maybe he wasn't asked to do that. A lot of times, when you look at guys, there's so much to the evaluation process, but I think what it really comes down to is when you look at that film, if that guy is doing something, and you are really trying to figure something out, sometimes it just doesn't add up. And, if you don't bring him in and sit down and talk to him, you'll never know. And, maybe somebody else gets a good deal and maybe you just saved yourself from another headache."

On whether the draft class is a reflection of the toughness he is looking to build:"I think they kind of coincide somewhere."

On whether those moves were coincidence:"I feel good about a team that wants to go out and play the game the way it was supposed to be played. As I've said before, I'm a historian of the game. This game was created for men to go out, get off the streets and find something for guys to do and understand how to compete. And, when the game is over, you shake each other's hand and say, 'Hey, you got me today, but I'll get you next time.' Competition is a great thing. You can go out there and play the game as hard as you can play, not be afraid to go all out. Not be afraid to fall of your face. Not be afraid to get knocked on your butt, just as long as you're willing to get up and try to knock him on his butt. So, I want the guys who are going to continue to get up and fight and try to win. And, when it's all said and done, the most important part is to play with character. Win or lose, play with character. That's what we want to develop."

On whether there is an onus to perform this year or that's it been put on QB Alex Smith:"If it was just Alex, then maybe we would have drafted another quarterback, but it's not. It's a team. It's [RB] Frank Gore. It's [RB] Glen Coffee. It's [TE] Vernon Davis. It's all of those guys who we've been trying to build around. To me, I still believe the quarterback position is really important, but I don't think it's what they make it out to be. 'The quarterback is the most important guy on the…' I don't believe that. I really don't. I just believe that if he didn't have that tackle over there, you're never going to know how good he is. If they're not blocking for him, if they're not protecting – I don't know how many quarterbacks who have come into this game who I really believed were really good quarterbacks, but they never had a chance because they just didn't have the people there who could block. They just didn't have the running back who was willing to pick up that extra linebacker or that extra safety who was blitzing. If it's not a team – it's either a team concept or it's nothing. So, Alex Smith is a part of the puzzle, but he's not all of it. So, there has to be a team thought process, and I really believe Alex embraced that. I really believed that he embraces that idea of knowing that we're not asking him to go out and win the game. But, we are asking him to go out and perform to the best of his ability and to execute to the best of his ability. So, that is what we're asking him to do. And, if he can do that, then fine. We're going to be OK."

On whether he can quantify the difference working with Director of Player Personnel Trent Baalke this year and Scot McCloughan last year:"It's a little bit unfair to Scot to say that right now because the situation was a bit different. I just think Trent stepped in, and I think Trent did a good job with the time that he had and everything else. I think he did a good job. Scot, I think, did some things differently. This is my first offseason, my first real offseason. When you have an idea of understanding of what the board means, you have an idea of understanding what the draft is about and how the scouts see it and look at how the coaches see it, and then try and put that together and come up with a win-win situation."

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