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Singletary's Notebook: Nov. 2



Opening Statement:**"Alright, injuries; [tight end] Vernon Davis, ankle, just a day-to-day thing, should be fine. [Quarterback] Alex Smith's shoulder, week-to-week, two to three weeks. [Cornerback] Tarrell Brown, back, that's a day-to-day thing at this point. Let's see, [center] Eric Heitmann, IR, and we go from there."

On the decision to put C Eric Heitmann on the IR and what his future looks like:"Well, you know right now, I'm not going to talk much about the future, I'll just talk about right now. We just felt from the very beginning, you know, we were telling him it was a week-to-week thing, but it's not making progress as fast as we would like or as fast as he would like. After awhile you kind of begin to press it a bit and just didn't get to do that. We wanted to make sure we did what was in the best interest of Eric as well as the team and go ahead and put him on IR so he can not try to speed up and do something that we don't need him to do right now, and at the same time try and get another guy to help us on special teams."

On whether he will give the players time off and whether he wants them to get away from football:"Well, yes; yes and no. I want them to make sure that they get their DVDs and they think about the challenge and the opportunity that we have when we get back; very excited about that. But at the same time, go ahead and enjoy this time. We fought and it's been a very long half of the season. I really wanted them to get away and reconnect with their families and loved ones or what have you, but when you come back on Monday, let's be ready to go."

On G David Baas' play and how he has stepped in for Heitmann:"It's been exceptional. I remember talking to him during training camp when Eric initially was injured and just trying to get a feel for where he was in having not played the position in a while. And then being able to jump in there and do the job; I thought not only did he step up and do the job, but he's made great strides."

On whether his thoughts on the quarterback situation have changed moving forward:"Not other than after the game, I just thought the kid [quarterback Troy Smith] did a nice job of kind of sticking to the game plan that we had; just kind of going in and not trying to make plays, not trying to do anything outside of the game plan. 'We're going to run the ball and as the game goes we're going to get a feel for what you can and cannot do and that helps us be able to put you in position to make plays.' And I think as the game went on, I had a chance to see some of the things that he can do and do comfortably, and that will help us going forward to do a better job of helping him manage the football game better. I thought he did a nice job of coming in and doing what we asked him to do."

On whether QB Troy Smith will see more work during the bye week to expand his knowledge of the playbook:"Well, I think the thing that I want him to do, with both he and [offensive coordinator] Mike Johnson, is just sit down and get a game plan. It's not like we're going to add a whole lot to his plate. I just want him to get the details of what we're doing, the little nuances of each play that he has to execute; not just where the ball needs to go, not just the progression, not just the protection, but every little thing and the steps in order to make it that much better. So, we're just going to take it a day at a time and he'll be here long enough to satisfy that."

On whether he is referring to the Rams game when he says game plan:"Possibly, yes."

On whether QB Troy Smith will be the starter for the Rams game:"Possibly, yes. Right now, yes."

On whether he has a plan to reevaluate QB Alex Smith after the bye weekend:"Well, I think right now, we're just going to pay attention to the trainers and the doctors and let them do their job. As coaches just continue to look at film and look at the body of work of each practice and make a decision on what's best for the team and go forward."

On whether he is more comfortable with Troy Smith as a passer based off his throws in the second half of the Broncos game:"Oh, I was comfortable with him as a passer going into the game. It's not that I didn't have a question of that. It was just a matter of who he was throwing the ball to, but I just think that as a passer he has a good arm. For him, it's just the experience, just the whole package and being able to make sure that he can continue to manage the offense. Make sure that certain things like the helmet speaker going out, which we should count on every week, being able to handle that situation and doing a good job there. And he did those things and he came to the sideline and he did some of the things that he needed to do in communication. We just have to continue to look at his progression and not make it more than it is. I thought he did a good job and it's a week-to-week thing."

On whether the offensive line is playing up to his expectations, given there were no sacks from the Broncos:"I think that unit is continuing to take strides. I think when you have two rookies starting on the offensive line, that is such a huge part of the team. It's just a matter of knowing you have to have patience. You have to know that there are certain setbacks that are going to happen. But overall in the past few weeks, those guys have continued to make strides of being a solid group and a very effective group. And as they continue to grow and mature, that gives the entire team the confidence that we need going into the second half of the season to battle for the division title."

On what he meant when, during production meetings, he said there was a lack of leadership on the offense and what he would like to see going forward:"What I meant by that was; the quarterback position to me is the position that you may have a great arm, you may have a great mind, you may have great feet, but leadership is the ability to bring the entire offense together knowing that there are going to be times that you're going to have setbacks. To me, it's very important that the quarterback understands that that's his role, in terms of making sure that guys are in the huddle, making sure that they have the right eyes, making sure that they have the right body language, making sure that if there are breakdowns on the field that he has to correct that and not allow that to come to the sideline and guys are thinking about that stuff; other stuff outside of what helps us win football games. The quarterback has to step up and make sure that that's cleaned up, and as the quarterback does that, then the guys can continue focusing on what's happening on the field and that's his job. That's a big part of his job is that leadership in knowing that, 'I don't care what happens, what comes or goes, we're going to take this ball and we're going to go downfield and we're going to do it as a team.' So that's the thing that I was talking about."

On whether those qualities are what impressed him about Troy Smith, particularly when his helmet speaker went out:"He handled it well. I mean he did a number of things that were good to see. But he hasn't still; I just think that it's important, and I told him, I want him to understand that, 'What you did was your job and I appreciate that. Let's just not be a one-game guy. Let's not settle and go, 'Hey, that's great.' Now, we have to continue to get better.' We have to continue to be more detailed about what we're doing and we'll just take one step at a time for him. We're not all of a sudden, we have a guy that, 'Wow, we can do this, we can do that.' No, you know what, we want to win football games. That is the goal. So let's make sure that that's what we're focusing on."

On whether the 49ers are interested in claiming wide receiver Randy Moss:"Well I think, is he still under contract? [Yes] Can't talk about it. See, you're getting me in trouble there [laughing]."

On what needs to be addressed in the secondary:"We got to sit down, and you know, meet with the coaches more and look at what is the issue there and look at if we have to make a move or a change or whatever, we'll do that. If not, if it's something very fundamental that we need to do, we'll do that, but we will correct it."

On LB Manny Lawson's play during the Broncos game:"I think I made mention of it before and I had a good conversation with him today. There's a light that has gone on for him. It's come on. We talked about it for a few years, you know, what Manny; I think we talked more about what he's not than what he is and I think he was an exceptional athlete when we got him. And I think sometimes it takes a guy a little time, and for right now, that light has gone on and he's making plays where he's not thinking about it. He's making plays and he's not coming to the sideline and saying, 'Well, you know, I was thinking about it and I should have.' That's not happening, he's doing it. And to me, he's playing the game, he's having fun. He's getting into a zone and I'm excited for him."

On how gratifying it is to see Lawson succeed after coaching him for so long:"Well, I think [outside linebackers coach] Jason Tarver has really done a nice job, [defensive coordinator] Greg Manusky has put in some work as well, [defensive line coach] Jim Tomsula; I think everybody on the defensive side of the ball has really tried to figure out another angle or whatever it is to try and get him to do the things that's he's doing now. So it's very gratifying for all of the coaches to see what he's doing and just very excited about the improvement."

On his message to the team going into the bye week and what he wants them to take away from the first half of the season:"Well, I think the first thing I tell our team is, 'I'm very proud of the way they hung in there.' There's never been a time, maybe with the exception of Kansas City, where they're just dog tired. There's never been a time that they've gone out on the field and not played; and once again I think the toughest opponent that we've faced this first half of the season is the 49ers. And I think going into the second half of the season, all of the stuff that happened and transpired in the first half of the season, that's done. We can't do anything about that, but we can learn from it. But going into the second half of the season, guys we got to go. We have a tremendous opportunity and we're going to take advantage of that opportunity. In order for us to do that I really wanted them to get away and relax and spend time with family or whatever and take it for what it is, but let's come back and be ready to go."

On whether he likes how the bye week divides the season directly in half:"I think it's great. It couldn't have come at a better time."

On what he took from the experience of being in London:"Well, I think after the Carolina game it was a really tough loss. So you leave there and you fly five or six hours to London and you get there and guys are still kind of numb to begin with. But it was a great place for guys to come together and begin to talk about what they were feeling about where we are and really, 'How do we fix it.' And sometimes it's just a matter of guys just being in a position to just be together and be around each other and to talk about what they're feeling. So London was sort of a regrouping point. It was sort of, in my mind, a turning point to kind of catch up a bit with each other and catch up with the feelings, and at the same time, refocus on what the goal is. Everything that we wanted to achieve, it's there, and it's just a matter of how badly we want it and what we have to do to get it."

On when the players will come back from the bye week:"Monday."

On what positives the 49ers take from the first half of the season despite the losing record:"I think one of the things that I said to the team, there are a couple of things. The one thing that I said to them was, 'Where we are, we earned that spot, we earned that place, and as men you have to take full responsibility for what it is.' We've had some tough games to where it comes to the last few seconds of the game, the last minute. So it's looking at that and knowing that those close games, they tear your heart out, but on the other hand they really cause you to look inside of yourself the way you never have. I'd much rather be where we are right now, of course, yes, I'd love to have a better record. I'd much rather be where we are right now, knowing where we are as a team; being healthy, being hungry and coming back the second half of the season and going downhill with what we have. I like what these guys have become, I like all of the character and courage and tenacity that they have showed week after week. It's hard to find a group of guys, particularly young guys, to lose a very close game, a very tough game, and come back the next week and believe again and do it again. Sometimes you have to be foolish to do that. 'Why do I keep believing, why do I keep playing, it's hard?' But they've gained a lot. Some of those losses that we've had, I think before it's all said and done, there will prove to positives. So that's what I take forward."

On whether he takes inspiration from the San Francisco Giants, who rallied in the second half of their baseball season and won the World Series:"I'm very proud of what they were able to do; what they were able to overcome, the setbacks and what have you; very proud of them, that's good stuff. For us, it's a matter of, as I said before, for some teams it would be pressure, but for us it's an opportunity. And that's what we see and that's how we're going to take the second half of the season."

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