The 49ers are in their bye week so while they do have to prepare for the Arizona Cardinals in two weeks, the developments on the coaching staff and in the starting lineup require almost a return to basics. Shaun Hill hasn't started with the first team offense in almost three months. He may know the Martz offense, but how he's finally going to get a chance to work with the best of the 49ers (maybe that's stretching the phrase a bit). Also, the defense will have some time to figure out how to correct the mistakes they're making and become the defense I think they can become.
After yesterday's practice, Mike Singletary and Shaun Hill spoke with the media. Coach Singletary is first, followed by Shaun Hill.
COACH MIKE SINGLETARY
What is the point of emphasis this bye week with three practices?
“First of all, just making sure the guys really get the most out of what we are trying to do right now. Enjoy this time off, but at the same time stay focused and understand what we have when we get back. We have an eight game stretch when we get back, starting with Arizona, that’s Monday night. So, while we are out here and we don’t have a game this week, just understand we still want to have a little bit of our minds focused on Arizona, knowing that’s where we have to go, that’s our first opportunity when we get back. And talking about some of the other things, taking all the advantage of this time, spending time with your coaches, watching extra film, whatever it is that you need to be ready when we get back, let’s do it.”
Why the change at quarterback?
“I just think it gives us the best opportunity to win right now. I think it brings some stability, some consistency. I think with Shaun Hill, the guys right now overall, the staff, the guys, the players, it gives us the confidence in terms of, ‘You know what we are going to keep this thing together and we’re going to cut down on the mistakes, the turnovers, what have you and let’s give ourselves a chance to win.’”
Will the offense look different under Shaun Hill?
“I can’t say that it has a good look. I just feel that right now with him in there, it’s just one of those things that Shaun is a natural leader. He leads in a different way. I just think, obviously, with him in there right now, he feels good, there’s an energy about it. Going forward, I’m just excited to see what he does with the opportunity.”
Do Shaun Hill's talents in favoring the shorter passes and to tight ends and running backs fit the talent of the team's offense?
“I think rather than favoring the shorter routes, the intermediate routes, I just think he really tries to find and take what the offense has given him rather than trying to force it. His decision making process I think right now is good. I like some of the decisions that he makes as well as some of the other coaches. Going forward, we’ll see how that works out.”
Who's starting at split end (between Bryant Johnson and Josh Morgan)?
“It depends. I think right now, Coach [Mike] Martz wants to really sit back and kind of analyze how everybody is doing. When you have young players…you have Josh. He has a world of talent and when you hear Coach Martz say this guy has more talent than just about any receiver he’s ever coached, that’s a huge statement. For him it’s just a matter of confidence. He is doing great and then all of sudden something happens. He might drop a ball, he may miss a block, and then boom. You just have to work at getting him back. Once he learns that, he’s going to be really explosive. I’m really excited about him.”
Coach Singletary was taking notes during the game. Were those something he referred to at halftime or later?
“What I’m trying to do when I’m taking notes, I take a lot of notes, the biggest thing that I’m trying to do is focusing on something and trying to feel what rhythm are we in. On offense, we want to set a particular rhythm. On defense, we want to set the tempo. How is that going, and being able to give some feedback to the guys. ‘Guys, this is what I see. This is where we are.’ Whether it’s the defensive line, whether it’s the offensive line, knowing what we want to do going into the game and just giving them some feedback. There’s nothing like feedback on where you are and what you’re going. ‘Okay, guys. We said we wanted to do this. This isn’t happening. How do we make it happen?’ So that is basically all that is.”
Fooch's Note: Maybe this means we'll actually see adjustments?
Why did he make the Vernon Davis issue public?
“This is a day and time where everybody wants to be so private and ‘This is my business and this is…and be nice to the guy.’ I love these guys. I really do. At the same time, I know Vernon wants to win. And at the same time, I know he wants to be a man. So the comments that I made, there’s nothing about the comment that I wouldn’t have said to him. So for me to say, ‘Well, that’s a private matter.’ It’s the way I felt and I wasn’t thinking about being politically correct. Now if it was something private that he did, it was something that was no one else’s business, that’s something that I would not do. But to me, the team needs to know that it will not be tolerated. Everyone needs to understand that if this is the course you want to take, chances are this is the way we’re going to deal with it. Nothing big and bad and bold. It’s nothing like that. To me it’s just carrying out the nature of a bet. And just being real.”
How does it feel to be back in the saddle? (And yes, they used that phrase!)
“It’s very exciting. I’m really looking forward to this challenge. I know this team as a whole is not satisfied with how the first half of the season went and we’re all excited to get this second half started and get this thing turned around.”
Where is Shaun Hill as far as his understanding of the offense compared to mid-August?
“Obviously, I feel like I’m a lot further along than I was in training camp in the offense and being able to sit back and watch J.T. [O’Sullivan] in the offense helped as well – to kind of see some of those things in action that Coach Martz was talking about in training camp. So it’s been good. These eight weeks I’ve continued to learn the offense and I feel far more advanced in it now than I was back in August.”
Has J.T. been supportive of the change?
“Yeah, he’s been very supportive. That says a lot about his character. He was supportive during the game as well, and that’s a tough thing. It really is. I can’t say enough about how great he’s been.”
Fooch's Note: That might be the least surprising answer ever.
How will the offense be different under Shaun Hill?
“I don’t think…the structure is definitely going to be the same. Everything’s going to be the same. No matter what, if you put two guys together and they have the same training no matter how long, you send the two guys out there it’s going to be two completely different games and that’s just the way it is. Guys see things different out there and when you get to the game just play different. I don’t know. It’ll just be different, that’s all I can tell you. Everything’s going to be the same, though. It’s going to be the same offense, just two different guys play the game totally different, no matter if they have the same training and no matter how long they’ve had that training.”
Will we see more long, methodical drives like Hill had against Seattle?
“I think a lot of that is a product of how they were playing. They had a pretty good lead in the second half and didn’t want to give up quick strikes down the field and things like that – and quick drives. They were going to make us take the ball methodically down the field, and we were going to have to score on every drive. I think more than anything it was a byproduct of how they were playing us at that time of the game.”
Fooch's Note: It's good that he recognizes that he was getting the underneath stuff and not the deep stuff.