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Singletary's Notebook: Dec. 15



Opening statement:**

"Good afternoon. First of all, with the injuries: [RB] Mike Robinson, stinger, day-to-day; [WR Michael] Crabtree, hip contusion, he should be fine; [LT] Barry Sims came in today with a little bit of knee pain. We'll get an MRI on that to see how that is sometime today. [LT] Joe Staley had a good workout on Sunday. We thought it was a good idea to rest him, give him a little more rest time and see how he responds this week. He's doing fine, a day-to-day situation.

The game last night, I'm very excited about the win and the way our guys responded. On the defensive side of the ball, I thought we attacked them most of the night, came up with some big plays, and I thought that was the result of our d-line really getting off the ball and making [QB Kurt] Warner move, which was part of the game plan going in. And, I thought the other part of that was our DBs really getting their hands on the receivers and being physical that way at the line of scrimmage. I thought that made a big difference. Our linebackers, for the most part, were going downhill and really did a pretty decent job against the run, for the most part, reading their keys. The thing we have to work on is continue to work on tackling. The big back [RB Beanie Wells], the kid got outside a few times and ran very well, ran hard. Our d-line, I thought our d-line did a good job for the most part. It was very nice to see [LB] Ahmad [Brooks] really step into his own last night on the national scene. That was great for him. Ahmad and [DT] Justin [Smith], [LB] Parys [Haralson] [LB] Manny [Lawson] – all the guys really got after the quarterback. They kind of took their turns and continued to make him move.

On the offensive side of the ball, I was pleased to see our offense really strike a balance. At the beginning of the season, we were a more run-oriented offense, and here as of late, we've evolved more into a passing offense, and I think last night, for the first time, we really struck a nice balance with the run and pass. I thought [QB] Alex [Smith] did a nice job. The two turnovers, the first one, the guy [DT Darnell Dockett] made a nice play getting his hands up and making an athletic play on the ball. The second one, the throw to [TE] Delanie [Walker] on the inside, a miscommunication in terms of whether Delanie was to go inside of the DB or on top of him. Alex read that he was going to go inside of him and threw the ball, and, obviously, the guy made a nice play and just kind of stood there and got a pick. [RB] Frank [Gore], I thought Frank did a nice job running the ball. The o-line did a very nice job blocking and opening up some holes and Frank ran strong and had great vision. It was great to see him smiling last night after the game. So, overall, I thought it was a nice win for us going forward. We've got a big game this week, and we just have to get our guys rested after a physical game like last night and get ready to go in Philly."

On whether the lows of losing are greater than the highs of winning:"No. When you win a game, you're excited, but I must admit that if you had seen the locker room, you would have seen the difference. But, I think for me, it's just a matter of as soon as you win a game, right away you're thinking of the next game – at least for me. And, I have also learned that you enjoy that win for that evening, and then for me, it lasts for a few hours and then you start thinking about the next challenge and getting on to that. So, that's all it was, but as far as the lows are concerned, trust me, last week was really low. It was really frustrating for many different reasons, but at the same time, if you stay in last week, you're going to play like last week, so it was very important for our guys to move forward and make the most of the opportunity that we had last night and very important for us to win the game and continue to get ready for next week."

On what his message to RB Frank Gore was last week:"You're talking about Frank Gore? Just knowing that he is a huge part of our offense and we're trying to figure it out. Just be patient and know that it's coming. In order for us to win, we need you to run the ball. Just give us a chance to strike that balance. It's coming, and it was good to see that [offensive coordinator] Jimmy Raye and I have been talking about it, making sure that we found that combination of getting him the ball and making sure that we had the right personnel to do that, and I thought Jimmy did a nice job of accomplishing that."

On whether the trio of LB Ahmad Brooks, LB Manny Lawson and LB Parys Haralson can be the answers to a consistent pass rush:"We'd like to think so. You never have enough of them, but it was good to see that combination of just coming off the ball and those guys being able to continue to apply pressure, continue to have the offensive tackles try and adjust to Ahmad's speed and Parys' strength and Manny's speed. It was a constant mix. That was really good to see. Ahmad really makes a difference when you begin to think about him as a pass rusher and really what he brings."

On how far away Brooks is being from a full-time linebacker:"I don't know. I think it's one of those things that is a next-offseason question. He's certainly in the mix, and I think when you look at Parys and you look at Manny and those guys continue to get better, Ahmad is definitely going to compete, and that's the best situation that we have there in order to compete."

On whether he has taken Brooks under his wing:"I think the whole coaching staff has. I think [defensive line coach] Jim Tomsula has done a tremendous job with him. I think we work on different levels. [Outside linebackers coach] Jason [Tarver] has done a great job with him. [Pass rush specialist] Al Harris has done a great job with him. I think we all just have a piece in that. I think Ahmad is one of those guys that, when you think about it, he came to us as an inside linebacker, not really a rush guy. But, you begin to see the skill, the speed, the ability to come off the edge, and you go, 'Wow, we need to do something different here.' And, you put him on the outside and you think that might be the fit, and of course, on the sub situation with him coming in and getting down as a rush end, that certainly works. I think he's found his niche. He is such a talented guy, I think for me, when you see someone like that, you just want them to succeed. You want them to have some success because that's a rare talent. He really is. It was just helping him see that. I'm very excited that he's got a grasp of it now."

On whether he has spent time with him managing the reputation he had of being a character risk off the field:"I think Ahmad, like a number of guys in the league, they just have been in other situations where maybe there wasn't as much structure, or maybe the coaches didn't have the time or the players didn't really have the – he's very fortunate being surrounded by the guys that he's surrounded by. Each and every one of those guys –- [DT] Justin [Smith] and Parys and [NT] Aubrayo [Franklin] – those guys rally around him and they're like big brothers: 'Hey, you need to do this. You need to be on time. You need to make sure that you're getting this done.' When he walks in that room, not only are the coaches on him, but those players are on him, 'Hey, well, wait a minute. What are you doing on this play? You need to be...' It's like he's got a lot of big brothers around here. I think when you come into a situation like ours where there are so many supportive guys, it really is a great situation for a young player to come in, and if he has a chance to make it, here is a great place to make it."

On how much of last night was staying with the offensive game plan and how much was adjusting to what the Cardinals defense was doing:"I think last night, and really for maybe the last three weeks, really has been trying to get a handle on what we're going to do. Since we've been evolving, like I said at the beginning of the year, it's one of those things where we're saying, 'OK, we're going to run the ball, and we're going to pass more if the quarterback allows us to.' All of a sudden, you've got a different situation, so we're going to pass. We're going to run depending on how we figure out what set we need to run out of. How does Frank adjust and what works for him? I think this week, coming into last night's game, it was just a matter of thinking, after talking to Jimmy Raye, this is what it looks like. I think this is what it is, and so we're going to go with that. I think it's just having a plan going into it, and it certainly helped playing them before and having a better idea of how they might adjust to certain things and just feeling that you could go with certain personnel groups and win with that. Run with this one and pass with this one, more with that one and give them different looks. It just kind of worked out that way. I think we did what we said we were going to do during the week."

On what he has seen from QB Alex Smith in the base offense versus other personnel groupings:"I think Alex is fine. I think Alex is a guy that can certainly play in the base. I think right now, if you were to ask him what is he most comfortable in, he would probably say more of a spread situation. But, I think he knows in order to be the player that he wants to be, and to be more of a well-rounded player, I think he wants to be able to have that base situation where it's two backs and a tight end, be able to get underneath the center and do that as well and feel comfortable in that. I think, as we go forward, he's played maybe a month-and-a-half or so, I think as we go forward, you're going to see him settle down a bit more and be comfortable in anything that we're running and just kind of settle in and become more consistent as a quarterback overall."

On what the challenge is for him in the base offense:"I just think it's more of a timing thing. Obviously, if you're in the shotgun, you have a little more time. You have a chance to see your matchups right away. Everybody's out. This guy is on that one. So, now you have a pretty good idea of what they're going to play. If you have a really fast guy over here, and you have a slow guy on him, chances are they're going to play a zone defense because that guy can't stay with him. And, all of a sudden, if you move this guy from over here to the other side and you get a guy matching him over here wherever he goes, chances are they're in man. So, as a quarterback, it helps me tremendously when I've got these guys running around and I know what matchups work, and when we set, I have a pretty decent idea what it is. When you're in a spread situation and you're off the ball in the gun, then you see a lot more and you get a lot more information. Whereas, when you're in a base situation when you've got two backs and a tight end, it's harder to tell. Those safeties really have to speak to you then. If they have a lot of experience, they're not going to tell you the truth until the ball is snapped and you only have so much time. So, now it's up to the offensive line."

On whether it's nice to hear a vote of confidence from Team President Jed York:"Yes, I know that every year every head coach in the league has an evaluation with ownership, but I think what's really important for me is not so much after the season a sit-down with Jed and Dr. [John] York and say, 'How did I do?' I think it's important for anyone that's doing a job to know that, you know what, I'm putting the best that I can into it and to know that that has to be enough. And, if it's not, then you go from there. So, I don't really think about, 'Well, what are they thinking about what I'm doing? How am I doing?' It's just a matter of knowing that how I deal with the coaches and how I deal with the players and making sure that every day I challenge myself to be the best that I can be and go from there."

On whether having an offense that evolves throughout the season is an advantage because opposing teams have to prepare for different things:"It can be an advantage for you if you do those things well. It can be an advantage. If you go into a game and they know you're in a particular set and you're going to try and take advantage of them passing the ball and you're going to spread it out and they're vulnerable that way, yes it can be an advantage and visa versa. I think every team knows that, let's say for instance, for us as an offense, if we go into a game and we know that they're really good in an under defense or an over, but they're playing a 3-4, that means that the confidence may not be there. So, it also sends another message. If you're not steady in what you're doing and you don't have a set deal, then it sort of lets the defense know, or an offense know, that you're not really confident in what you're doing week-in and week-out. It is important to have some stability and say, 'This is our staple. This is who we are. This is what we're doing, and we're coming at you and you just have to stop it.'"

On whether QB Alex Smith should get a lot of credit for the win:"How much of the credit goes to Alex Smith? Now you're talking about the whole team thing to me. A quarterback can sit back there and look really smart and look really poised and really look great if he's got time. That's why I have a hard time when people talk about, 'Well, this is how many games the quarterback has won. This is how successful the quarterback has been' because if he's getting the crap knocked out of him, I don't care how good he is, he's not going to be very good. So, I think Alex Smith, the offensive line – I think the offensive line deserves a lot of credit from yesterday. I think they've really matured, particularly from the first time we've played those guys. I think our guys have grown up quite a bit. So, I just think that it's hard for me to just say, well, it's Alex Smith. I would say that our offense is continuing to gain confidence as a whole. Our receivers and Alex are still trying to get on the same page. They've been playing together for about a month-and-a-half. There are some quarterbacks that have those receivers for a year or two and they're still not on time. So, I just think that it's just a credit to the offense and the coordinator."

On how much QB Alex Smith played a part in drawing players offside against the Cardinals:"I think it's great that Alex would be able to do that. Our guys were poised enough to stay onside. Doing that on the first drive, I think it was a great thing to do because it really settled Arizona down and had them a little hesitant about jumping off and trying to get ahead of the snap count."

On the miscommunication on the second interception and whether it was Alex Smith's fault:"To say Alex read it incorrectly – I couldn't say one way or the other. That's the way he saw it. When I look at the film, I can easily see why he could read it that way. I could also understand why [TE] Delanie would say, 'I read the safety, going up high or staying low, so I tried to go up high.'"

On whether it's black and white:"Not exactly."

On whether it's a relief to know they have the tiebreaker against Arizona if it comes down to a tie:"Once again, in all honesty, all I know is, if we win out we have a chance. Maybe a small chance, but a chance, and I don't really care about the other stuff and the tiebreakers – I don't really get into that. I'm not smart enough for that. I just know if we win out, we just have to sit back and let's see what happens."

On the problems in the punt return game:"We've got to work through it. That's all we can do. We've got to work through it."

On whether the pieces are there:"I certainly hope so because hopefully, we just make better decisions. Hopefully, we'll get it done and we just have to figure it out more and more. We know with one guy, [WR] Brandon Jones, we know he's going to catch the ball. [WR] Arnaz [Battle], you know that he's more experienced at it. We just have to work through it."

On whether they can take that chance with the playoffs still a possibility:"What do you suggest we do?"

On getting a guy that can catch the ball:"We've got a guy that can catch the ball."

On who that is:"Brandon Jones."

On why he wasn't returning punts yesterday:"Because when you get a punt, the one thing that you want to try and do in a game like that, and it's not that Arnaz can't catch the ball. He's only missed one ball and I think that was in the Houston game. That's one ball."

On the one yesterday:"The one yesterday, I thought the ball hit the ground first, then he tried to do something with it. That's different than muffing it. Muffing it is when it comes out of the air and it hits you and you don't catch it. That's a different thing. That's a bad decision that he made. That's a bad choice, but he didn't muff it."

On whether he is comfortable with it:"No, I'm not comfortable. I'm not comfortable with any of that stuff. I'm not comfortable any time a guy is back there, catching the ball, catch the ball. That's your job, catch the ball. So no, I'm not comfortable, please don't think for one second that I'm comfortable with that, but at the same time, I want to make sure that if that's what we have, then we have to make the best decision and maybe give the guy better parameters and say, 'If the ball is coming here, if the ball is going to hit the ground, just get the heck away from it.' Hopefully, we get that figured out and we'll go from there."

On whether there are any regrets about releasing KR/PR Allen Rossum:"No, absolutely not. None."

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