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Singletary's Notebook: Sept. 29



Opening Statement: **"First and foremost, I'm excited about the opportunity that we have this week. 0-3 is not the place that we want to be. It's not the place that anybody envisioned, being at this place, but I am convinced that being at the place that we are right now has allowed us to see some things and do some things and make some changes that will take us where we need to go. Thankfully it's early in the season and we still have a tremendous opportunity in front of us and that's the way we see it. This week, after last week's game, of course everyone knows that we made the move with Jimmy Raye for many different reasons. After I looked at it, we talked about that on Monday, and would really appreciate that if there's anything that you want to know about that conversation that we had or whatever, you need to ask Jimmy. But as far as I'm concerned, Michael Johnson has stepped in and is doing a very good job. The energy level of the coaches and players – the excitement in terms of being able to have everybody on the same page. So I'm excited about that opportunity for Michael. I considered Coach Solari because of the job that he's done and the experience that he has, but chose Mike Johnson simply because of the relationship with Alex (Smith) and felt that I wanted that to continue to grow. I wanted the trust, the communication, and everything else to continue moving forward. Did not want any setbacks whatsoever in Alex's development at this point. It's important right now for us as a football team to continue to eliminate the distractions that surrounded our team in the first three weeks. When you have a situation like we have right now, and you have a team that's 0-3 particularly when you were expected to do great things by the media at the beginning of the season, it is important for us to maintain focus of being the best team that we can possibly be. It is our focus to win the division, it is our focus to continue to move forward and get that done. But first and foremost the thing that we need to concentrate on the most is what happens out here on the field. Stay focused on getting better, eliminating distractions, and making sure that the detail of what we're trying to do, the consistency of what we're trying to do, gets done. I think Mike Johnson yesterday spent most of his time with the offense, I thought the meetings were great, I thought the detail was great, and just the little bit out here today. I think he's going to be a natural at what he's doing and I'm excited about that. I think moving forward, it's just important that we continue to work. It's important that we continue to believe in this team, believe in this staff, and believe in what we're striving to do and get where we need to go."

On whether changing coordinators is an adjustment for QB Alex Smith:"A positive adjustment. It's not like Mike Johnson is someone who Alex…Alex has worked closely, very closely with Mike Johnson and in a strange kind of way Alex and Mike Johnson have kind of grown up together. I just think that the communication there, in terms of knowing what Alex can and cannot do, the vulnerability in the relationship, particularly with Alex,  I think there's a trust level there and that's the biggest part in terms of the development of any player."

On whether Offensive Coordinator Mike Johnson will be on the field or in the booth:"I think we'll know that closer to game time. I think as we go through this week the communication between Mike Johnson and Jason Michael and feeling Alex's comfort level, in terms of who he needs to communicate with in case something happens – so it's just that we'll go through the week and make that decision later on."

On whether it is true that Jimmy Raye was following Coach Singletary's philosophy:"It is true that Jimmy tried to follow what I asked him to do. It is true. I just feel that perception and anything else – when I look at it, I put it this way, any coordinator, any, whether they're defensive or offensive, if the head coach is saying, 'this is what I want you to do,' then everybody is going to feel that they're doing that. And I think Jimmy did the best job that he could in terms of what I want."

On whether he gave thought to calling plays himself:"No."

On whether the move at offensive coordinator is also a shift in his philosophy:"I want the same thing that I've wanted from the very beginning. I want a physical offense, whether we're running the ball or we're passing the ball. I want a balanced attack, I want to be able to run the ball and I want to be able to pass the ball equally as well, and when we're doing both, I want us to be physical in doing it. I want us to be detailed in doing it. That's the very thing that I said from the very beginning, and I continue to hold true to that. How you do it is a whole other thing. And I think if I've got two people sitting here and they hear the same thing, they may interpret it differently, but I will just say that I think Jimmy did the best job that he possibly could at following what I asked him to do."

On whether there is concern with Johnson's limited experience as a play caller and learning on the fly:"No, not really. I wouldn't say that he's really learning on the fly. I think he's had an opportunity to really look at this offense and understand it, kind of grow up in it in the past year and a half. I think he understands the whole play-calling thing. He had a chance to call a few games in Atlanta. Even though it's not a year or 10 years worth of experience, the thing that I want you to keep in mind is that there are a lot of coordinators that have been doing it for 10, 15 years and are still not very good at it. So, experience is very important, only if you're learning from one year to the next."        

On what he has done in the past two days to work with Mike Johnson:"I think the biggest thing is once I became open, I felt that there was even a possibility, you know after beginning to watch the film that night, Sunday night. Once I felt that there might be a possibility that I would go in another direction, Mike Johnson is the guy that came to mind. I also said that I thought of Coach Solari as well, but I just spent some time with Mike and talked about how he sees certain things, how he sees our quarterback, how he sees our team, and just really began to – I told him after the conversation that we had, do me a favor, let's talk again tomorrow, but what I would like for you to do is just take your time and sit down and write out all of the things that you would do differently for our offense and how you would you help us get where we need to go. And that's kind of how that went. And we talked the next morning, I liked what I saw, I felt good about what I saw and with the conviction that he spoke on, and with some of the things that I've seen him do, some of the ideas, some of the creativity, I felt that it would be a good move."

On how long the list was that Johnson came up with:"It's not very long, I mean it's not – just long enough to have me feel that he was the guy."

On whether the offensive coordinator move was considered in the off-season:"No sir, absolutely not."

On whether it was a mistake that the move wasn't considered in the off-season:"No, I don't think so. I think this, when you're a leader, there are things that will come up and you have to make a decision and I think the key to being a successful leader is knowing when you have to make a decision, knowing how much risk is involved, knowing all of the components that are involved, and making sure that that decision is a positive, and not a negative. And that's what I had to do. I just had to sit down and look at it and really spend some time praying about it, and continuing to just take the night and look at it and made that decision. But it was never a decision that I thought about making before Sunday." 

On whether he's concerned about the locker room:"You know, I don't think so. We had a great meeting this morning. I think when you're in a situation like this, when you're 0-3, obviously some guys may say this, some guys may say that. It's important for me as the head coach to continue to lead, to continue to show the direction and to continue to make sure that everybody is on board. It's kind of like looking at some of the animal kingdom shows or whatever, when you have a pack moving together, making sure that there's not one off over here or one off over there, keeping everybody together and making sure that I have a hand on the pulse of the team at all times and everyone at all times. And it's important that I use the strength and conditioning coaches, it's important that I use all of the coaches, it's important that I use our team leaders, it's important that I use the trainers, constantly getting feedback from them on where the guys are. And you know, 'Mike, I think you need to talk to this one, I think you need to talk to that one.' To me, that is what leadership is all about and you have to have an open line of communication, particularly in situations like now because everybody is feeling a little something different and it's my job to make sure that they all come back to the table and we're eating the same thing."

On whether there are changes in the offensive starting lineup:"No."

On whether G Chilo Rachal is still the right guard:"It hasn't changed since Monday."

On whether there are changes in the defensive starting lineup:"No sir."

On his evaluation of the defense and how they are playing:"Evaluate how our defense is playing? Up until Sunday, they were playing lights out. And I just, I attribute that, I take some of that responsibility on my shoulders in terms of the way that they played, we had a short week and when you have a young team you have to find the balance between coming out here and just kind of letting guys get their legs back, but at the same time you have to get ready to play the next team. And so maybe last week I pushed them a little too hard, maybe I didn't find the right balance, because in the game, it showed. They were a little bit flat. So I take that responsibility on me."

On Mike Johnson's list and the bullet points and things he wants to change:"Now you have to know that I'm not going to tell you anything that was on that list. You have to know that. All I can say is watch the game. And I think in that game, you'll see."

On whether this took place Sunday night:"There's stuff that – the information, I got the next morning."

On whether there was any hesitance in talking to Johnson before making the move:"Well the thing is, the thing that I told Mike is I just wanted him to have a head's up. I didn't want to come in Monday and not have a plan. I wanted to make sure that if I came in Monday morning and I was definitely going to do that, then I wanted to make sure that if he was going to be that guy that he was ready to go, and I didn't just have – go all Monday with no plan at all. So that's another part of the equation on Sunday night as I said, at some point in time that night I realized that you know what, I may make a decision, and if I am indeed going to make a decision, who am I going to look at? Mike Solari, Mike Johnson. And as I looked at the quarterback situation, Mike Johnson. And so I call Mike, talk to him a bit, and gave him a heads up that it could be, and said it absolutely could be nothing. In the morning, could be nothing, and he understood that. And that's the way the meeting went."

On whether he underestimated how important the quarterback position is:"No, I don't think I've ever underestimated the quarterback situation. I think the quarterback is very important. Do I think he's the most important? No I don't. I think the rules of the NFL, I think there's certain things that have made the quarterback the most important thing, but once again the thing that I feel is this. If the only way that you could win football games is that you have to have a good quarterback or a great quarterback, then I would say that the quarterback is the most important thing in this game. A great example is the game we played on Sunday. I think Matt Cassel is a good quarterback. Do I think he's a great quarterback? Do I think he's the most important part of that offense? No I do not. But they won the game. So I feel that it's important for us, and I think every team is different. If I'm a passing team, yes I think the quarterback could be. If I am the Indianapolis Colts, yes I think the quarterback is the most important part. If I am the New England Patriots, I think the quarterback is the most important part of that offense. The 49ers right now, I feel that the quarterback is very important, but I don't think he's the most important part of our offense. I think there are 11 guys, and in this offense, I want 11 guys to know that each and every one of them on every play are very important."

On whether he is evaluating QB Alex Smith's spot right now after making a move with the offensive coordinator:"I am not."

*On whether Smith has played well: *"If he played well we'd probably be 3-0, right? No. He hasn't played his best. He's played okay. He's been inconsistent, just like the entire team. What we have to do is we have to be more consistent in what we're doing. We have to be more detailed in what we're doing. Since preseason, that is the same thing that I told our team before going into the season. There are two things that we have to have. We have to have more detail and we have to have more consistency in every area. And you know hopefully our team right now is, after everything that we've been through in three weeks, hopefully we're at that point that we're ready to take that next step and move forward. But I don't think anybody has played great at this point, but I think that there are times that they have and there are times that they haven't – inconsistent." 

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