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Singletary's Notebook: Dec. 6



On what the most disappointing aspect of the loss to Green Bay was:**"Probably just the overall physicality that we didn't play with. Overall, I just thought that we could have done a better job, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, we could have done a better job tackling. Yes, we were on the field a long time, but that's something that we could have controlled and we didn't, we couldn't get off the field after a while. That was probably the most disappointing thing."

On whether he chose not to be more creative with plays or whether it was not possible:"First of all, the thing that I want you to understand about that is, when [RB] Frank Gore goes down, it's not like we're going to go and try to create another offense. Obviously, if Frank has running plays inside, if you look at the film, if Frank has running plays inside and he runs, he runs the plays well inside. Obviously, if [RB] Brian Westbrook, a guy that's had issues with concussions or whatever, we're not going to run him the same way. We'll do some, but I'm not going to sit here and tell the media exactly what we're going to do so that you can put it in the paper, so that they can see it. I mean, I want you to understand that."

On getting Westbrook outside:"In all honesty, just staying true to the game, Westbrook and [RB Anthony] Dixon ran the ball and, yes, there were a couple of times that he ran inside, but the idea in the game was to try and keep it as close as we could and take it to the fourth quarter, and we felt that we would have a chance to win the game. Obviously, they made some big plays that really took us out of the running game, period. And we certainly had to throw the ball more and try to come up with some other things."

On whether he would have done things differently in goal-to-go situations if Gore had been healthy:"Probably. I mean, when you have Frank Gore, yes, I probably would have done things differently. But I think the way it worked out, with being down on the two-yard line, and I told [offensive coordinator] Mike [Johnson] that he had a four-down territory, you've got all four downs to use. We thought we'll try and pass the ball and see how that works and we end up taking a sack. So it's just some things that just kind of take us out of our continuity a bit. You know, hind sight I'm sure I'd do things a little different, I'm sure Mike would do things a little different, but we felt that we could get it done that way."

On whether he thought about going for the touchdown in either of those goal-to-go instances:"That was when we took the sack, yes."

On whether he had to kick in that situation:"Yes." 

On whether the quarterback decision is still week-to-week or whether he is committed to QB Troy Smith for the season:"We have to revisit it every week, and of course today, we're spending time looking at the film and really making sure that we're accurate on the things that we see, but it is week-to-week. The thing that I've said all along is that I want to go with the quarterback that I feel gives us the best chance to win. And that is a week-to-week thing."

On whether Troy Smith is the quarterback this week or whether it is yet to be determined:"Yet to be determined."

On Troy Smith's play against Green Bay:"I thought he did decent. I thought he did OK. Decent performance."

On whether there is any thought that since Gore is out and the offense might be more skewed to the pass, that he would go with QB Alex Smith, who may be more comfortable with the whole playbook and playing out of the shotgun:"Obviously before Frank Gore went down, those are things as an offense that you always have to think about. When we had Frank healthy last year, we still did that. So we're always going to go with the scheme that gives us the best chance to win."

On whether he is leaning toward starting Troy Smith:"Right now I'm leaning towards Seattle and really focusing in on them. As far as the quarterback situation, we'll get together as a staff and we'll make that decision. But right now we're putting everything that we have into Seattle."

On what he learned from the first Seattle game this season (week one) and why he had the comment then of thanking Seattle coach Pete Carroll:"You still want to know? There are a lot of assumptions afterwards. You know what, in all honesty, I think after the game, to me, I really felt like we went up there to set the tone, and there were a lot of unknowns that we did not know about their team, and there was no way to know them until you get there. But after the game I just felt that they came out and they executed their offense and their defense. They did what they did and they won the game, and that was, to me, the only appropriate thing that I could say. There were a lot of other things that I was feeling, but it was the most appropriate thing to say because they beat us. And they prepared well, and they beat us."

On how much different the team now is from that week one team:"We're certainly a more mature team. That's one thing, I think, when I look at this team I was hoping it was yesterday, obviously it was not. I was hoping that yesterday would prove to this team that we we're ready to take a step. Obviously we did not. Too many missed opportunities, things that we did not do that we needed to do yesterday as a football team, and we did not do that. And so we find ourselves in the situation where we have another division rivalry this week, and we've got to do all that we can do to prepare for this game, and just go from there. But I think we're a much better team than we were then. More mature and more settled."

On the constant shifting in the team's dynamic with some of the key elements on the team like quarterback and coordinator changes:"That's what makes it exciting. That's why I feel so fortunate to do what I'm doing. I wake up and I've got a situation every day that I've got to deal with and I've got to solve issues, and I'm thankful for that because the issues will get solved. But once again, that's what makes this job exciting, is there's been constant change this year, but I think mostly for the better."

On whether the constant change can produce winning football:"We'll find out. We'll find out. It's a good question. We'll find out."

On whether there are players who are playing well week-to-week:"Let me ask you this. That's a good question. But as you know, I'm going to be biased. But let me ask you, do you think there are five or six players on our team? [response: probably, maybe not six, maybe five. I'm not looking at the film everyday like you are.] That's okay, I like that. I like that."

On whether he can name a few of those players:"OK, yeah, I'll name a few. I'd say when you look at our defense, it's like anything else. You look at the Arizona game last week, we played outstanding. It'd be hard to pick out a guy that's not playing well. Put on the film from yesterday, some guys just didn't play well. It goes in and out, but just understand this, the guys that are on the field, everybody, every team has guys that you know, may not be playing every week, week in and week out. We've got a few guys that – to your point- I would say a guy like [DT] Justin Smith. A guy like [LB] Takeo Spikes. [LB] Joe Staley. [S] Dashon [Goldson]. [NT] Aubrayo Franklin. Really, our front line. [DT Isaac] Sopoaga is playing the best football he's played in a while. I think Nate – [CB] Nate Clements has done a good job. I think [CB] Shawntae [Spencer] – you know, has got to tackle better, but Shawntae has done a good job covering. [S] Reggie [Smith] is continuing to get better. Some games, you go out and it looks like what the heck are you doing in practice? Yesterday was one of those games. But I think the most important thing that our guys do, and they wouldn't be on the field if they didn't, the most important thing that our guys do is hustle. They get after it, and they give you the effort that they have. And if a guy's not going to do that, he's not going to be on the field. That is the most important thing to me. If a guy's out there playing, he has to do his best. Obviously there's some plays that maybe it doesn't look that way, but the guy has to give you the effort. And I think we have that. I think when I look at the offensive side of the ball, I think our offensive line, I take my hat off to that group. You've got two rookies, and you've got [G] David Baas in the middle of that thing, that hasn't played center since college, and we don't have the left tackle, supposedly by many would be the most important guy on that line. I think yesterday the guys did a good job. I think they have continued to get better. I think they have continued to bond as a group, protections, all of those things. Frank Gore, before he got hurt, was playing at a very high level. [TE] Vernon Davis, who continues to get better and get more and more involved in the offense, continues to be one of the better blocking and pass receivers around. So our receivers, I think it's been a work in motion, continuing to get better. I look at [WR] Michael Crabtree - very young, at the start of this season, hadn't had training camp, all those things, but has really worked his tail off and continued to get in the mix, stay after practice, and do all those things. So yes, there are a number of guys that I think are good football players. Now, I just want to say this and I'm going to try and frame it as best I can. I know, in four weeks, the season will be over. I understand that. But it is my thought process, it is my intention, as I look at this game coming up with Seattle, it is a huge game. And I will not look past that. But just know that as we prepare, it's going to take everything that we have to go out there Sunday and play the best football that we can possibly play for the next four weeks, and go from there. But it starts this Sunday."

On why Westbrook has not been more integrated into the passing game:"I think when you have a guy like Frank Gore, who if that's your starter, and for us, we're not set up like a Carolina where they have two backs and they share a lot of time together. We're not set up like other teams that have that. So, I think the number one thing and the number one reason it has taken Westbrook so long to be integrated into our offense was really first of all the protection, from the protection standpoint and making sure that early on we did not put him in harm's way. With the number of concussions, with some of the things that he has from playing, the length of time that he has, we just wanted to make sure that, at the end of the day, we didn't get to this point and he couldn't play, that we had used him more than we needed to. We have a pretty good feel for what Frank can do and kind of trust that. And Frank was in excellent shape this year, and I think based on the carries, if you look at them, they're pretty high, but for him, it's pretty normal and we tried to watch that. So when I look at Westbrook, yes, he's a dynamic guy coming out of the backfield; did some dynamic things, but when you have Frank Gore you've got to try and keep that, really from a protection standpoint, because you have an offensive line who are trying to learn the protections. So, that all goes together."

On whether going forward he will imitate Carolina's running game and split the carries between Westbrook and Dixon:"We will not try to be like Carolina. I think what we will do is, as we continue to look at the package we have, we're really going to try and figure out exactly how much can Brian take, how much can he do, how much can we utilize him to make sure that we don't overdo it, to make sure that we don't put him in harm's way, and that is definitely a concern. I mean, I'm always asking him, 'Are you okay? I mean is your body feeling good, are your legs feeling good?' I want to make sure that we're taking care of him as best we can."

On what he meant when he said in four weeks the season would be over and whether that was an admission that the 49ers would not make the playoffs:"No, no, no. No, I'm glad you did [ask]. You know what, I say, in four weeks, the end of the regular season. Let me correct myself and say that. I don't want to get into the playoff talk. I probably shouldn't have really gone there. But just know that we're really excited about this weekend and Seattle because we know what it means to us and the only reason this weekend is important is because of when you look at the end of the regular season. So it's very important for us to take it one game at a time and really stay focused on the game we have this week and go from there."

On whether he will place K Joe Nedney on the injured reserve list and other injury updates:"I think, what did we say on that? We've said we're going to just going to wait and see and see how that works. Everybody else that's injured or got injured yesterday, or if you've heard that were injured, they're just day-to-day."

On whether reports that speculate whether or not he should be fired as head coach weigh on him:"Not any more than the stuff that anybody has written in this room. You have to understand that for me, that's part of the job. I think one of the saddest things about our society today is anybody can say anything and write anything and have no responsibility. For me, everything I say I'm responsible for. So any kind of reports or whatever that come out, and I know that there are many, I told you before, I really don't read them. But if it's true, it's true, but until I know it's true, my eyes are on Seattle."

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