I'm sure that most of you didn't want to see this guy's mug again. But tonight we get a special edition of Monday Night Football. We get two guys that altered the 49ers destiny in a not so subtle way: Chargers head coach Norv Turner and Broncos defensive coordinator Mike Nolan square off (sort of) in an intriguing Monday night battle. The Broncos have shocked just about everybody and find themselves sitting at 5-0. The Chargers have struggled to a 2-2 start, not really getting destroyed by anybody, but definitely not impressing folks. A Broncos win tonight puts them in the driver's seat the rest of the way, as they'd be three games up on the Chargers with the road win in hand.
Folks obviously are welcome to discuss the MNF game in this thread, but I thought we could also let the Crabtree discussion spill over here. Mike Singletary had his post-walk thru press conference and I thought there were some questions asked and answered that leave a bit of ambiguity in regards to Michael Crabtree. We've heard that Michael Crabtree will likely be starting this Sunday, from the words of Josh Morgan via Maiocco. Morgan said:
"I'm helping him learn my position and take my position," said Morgan, who ranks second on the 49ers behind Vernon Davis in receiving. Morgan has 13 catches for 202 yards and one touchdown. "It is what it is. If he can help us win, I'm all right with that.
"They gave him my spot. So if he's going to be in there, I might as well help him out so I can make sure he gets it right."
However, during Singletary's Q&A I noticed an interesting exchange:
On whether plans are to still have Crabtree play the slot receiver position versus Houston:
"Right now we’re going to continue to see between now and the game how much he progresses, how much he can pick up, and as far as how much he plays, I think it depends on how much success he has when it really gets right down to it. So I think that going forward, that is something that will play itself out in a game."
Singletary made no mention of Josh Morgan, other than to say he was working with Crabtree. Josh Morgan certainly has no reason to deceive the media in this instance, so the competing quotations leaves me a little bit confused. Some folks have argued (convincingly I think) that Crabtree could be a great option in the slot, at least in these initial games. So maybe we see Morgan and Crabtree both getting a lot of time, just with Crabtree as the "starter," but moving into the slot when Morgan comes on the field? Of course Morgan also has been praised in the past by Jimmy Raye for his versatility at the three main wide receiver positions. Any further thoughts on all this as we enjoy a little Monday Night Football tonight?
After the jump I've posted the Singletary transcript.
Head Coach Mike Singletary
Post-Walk Thru - October 19, 2009
San Francisco 49ers
"I'm happy to be back, getting ready to start up again. Ready to go. As far as the injuries are concerned, we made a decision over the break to put [LB] Jeff Ulbrich on IR. The reason we put Jeff Ulbrich on IR is we really have a conservative approach to everything we do as it pertains to our players. We want to make sure that, even though we come out here and stress the physicality of what we're trying to do and what we're trying to bring across, at the same time, on the other side of that, we want to make sure that we take care of our players because taking care of the players means we're taking care of their families as well in the long run. I think Jeff, when we had to sit down and get all of the information from the neurologists and all the testing that he had, that was the conclusion - that it would be better for Jeff in the long run to do that. So, without hesitation, we brought Jeff in and told him that that's the thing that we were going to do going forward. Jeff will act as [CB] Walt Harris. Jeff is the kind of guy that you want around. He's good for our team. He's good for our linebackers. He's good for our coaches. He's like a coach on the field always and anyways. Jeff will be here after this week. He won't be here this week. He's got things to do and adjustments and those kinds of things. Next week he will be here and be in the meetings and be at practice and sometimes travel.
That's the thought process on Jeff Ulbrich, and if there are any thoughts on why [SS] Michael Lewis is not doing the same thing, it's because when you deal with concussions, you're always looking at the track record. You're always looking at where they are in terms of the testing and how long it takes for them to get back and regain consciousness and awareness, in terms of where they are and what they're doing. Mike has been under extensive testing as well, but as of yet, I think between today and tomorrow, we'll have more back on that. As of right now, all of the early prognoses are that he's OK. We'll have to monitor that going forward, but that's where we are."
On when Lewis can return to play:
"I just want to kind of listen to what they tell us after the testing and make decisions going forward."
On whether there is a possibility Lewis could still be put on injured reserve:
"Unlikely, always a possibility, but unlikely."
On whether the team has replaced Ulbrich's roster spot:
"Yes. [LB] Matt Wilhelm from San Diego. He was, I guess [defensive coordinator] Greg [Manusky] knows about him and coached him and had him there a little bit in San Diego. So, that's the guy we brought in to do that."
On WR Michael Cratbree's progress:
"Michael Crabtree's progress is excellent. He's working his tail off. He stays here. He's with the coaches all the time and learning the playbook. They're very pleased with what they're seeing, and I'm pleased with what I'm seeing and the conversations that he and I have had. With the coaches, it's been great. He can't get enough of it. He wants to be out here. He wants to get better. He wants to play and make a contribution. So, that's very exciting."
On his expectations for Crabtree against Houston this weekend:
"I told him, ‘Don't feel like you have to justify anything. You don't have to prove anything. All you have to do is the best that you can. When you're out here, just make sure you know what you're doing. Put yourself in a position to make plays, and when those opportunities come, make those plays. Other than that, do what everybody else is doing. Continue to be detailed. Continue to finish the plays and just get better.' It's exciting to see him out here, and, obviously, he's a good football player. I'm excited to see how it starts and the progression."
On what Crabtree did over the weekend:
"Well, for the most part, he was here - not Sunday. Saturday, I think he had just film and things like that, but Thursday, Friday as well as Wednesday evening he was here working, getting some work in running routes."
On whether QB Alex Smith was here during the bye week:
"Alex was here Thursday, not Friday, but he was here Thursday. We got one of the trainers who was a quarterback in college, Nate [Breske], so he was out here Friday with them, with [RB] Frank [Gore] and [WR] Josh [Morgan] and Crabtree throwing them the ball. That went well."
On how Gore felt over the weekend:
"He was fine over the weekend. We will monitor it, but I think Frank is fine."
On how Ulbrich responded to being put on IR:
"A guy like Jeff, knowing Jeff, he's never going to be in total agreement because he is a football player. It is easy to sit down and say, ‘You know what, I may consider retirement. I may consider this.' But when it really comes down to it and it is actually a possibility, now it is like, ‘Wait a minute. Hold on. I didn't sign up for this part of it.' But I think in the end he knows we have his best interests at heart. As he begins to look down the road, he has had a heck of a career, and for right now that is where we see it and just want to do what is best for him."
On whether Gore will play Sunday:
On who will play right guard:
"Right now, Chilo [Rachal] and [Adam] Snyder will alternate, a lot like [Tony] Pashos and Snyder at the tackle position. We want our best five on the field, and we feel like Snyder alternating with Chilo will be good for us to find out who is best at that position."
On whether Snyder will continue alternating at right tackle:
"No, that is too difficult to do. We are going to leave Pashos at the right tackle spot and Snyder and Chilo will alternate at right guard."
On whether Snyder was reluctant to move to guard:
"No, he was very excited. He was very proactive. ‘Hey, I'm ready to go. Let's go.' That was good to see because what I told him previously is I want him to be at that right tackle and just do that position and be the best you can be. But when we started talking about how we wanted the best guys on the field, when we looked at the right guard spot and some of the things that have happened at that spot, and I think he saw it too and was proactive in coming to us and saying, ‘Hey, that sounds good to me. Let's do it.'"
On whether the offensive line changes will be in place on Sunday:
"Throughout the game; in practice and the game."
On any other depth chart changes:
"I think right now that is the biggest change. Of course there may be some guys playing a little more, a little less, things like that. But for the most part that is the biggest adjustment."
On why there are seven active wide receivers on the roster:
"The biggest reason for the wide outs is first of all, when you look at special teams, for every wide out we have it keeps a starting DB off of a special teams unit; it keeps a starting linebacker off a special teams unit. Even though it looks like, ‘Man, we have all these wide outs, how about you get some other positions,' I think it works out right now. Going forward, we may make some adjustments here and there. But for right now, up to this point, it has worked especially for special teams reasons, giving some guys a chance to get their breath on the sideline."
On playing Houston this Sunday:
"It is a great challenge. I am very excited about the challenge. It should be a very good football game. We are very excited about the opportunity we have to go on the road and play a good football team. We will see where we stack up."
On what he did during the bye week:
"I was talking to the guys about that this morning. Bye week is some good time to have some time off or whatever, but it's kind of tough because even though you have that week off, it's just kind of difficult to adjust. My wife and I kind of sat down and figured out what we needed to do, got our expectations in the right place and we were off and running, so it ended being a nice time off."
On whether there is anything special to him, being a native of Houston, TX, going back home and playing the Texans:
"I'll just say this -there's a lot of family and friends and things like that, but I had a chance to visit them this offseason and with the Lord's will, I'll see them again next offseason. But when we go down there, to me, we're going down there to play a football game. It is a business trip as I tell our guys and we're going to be ready to go."
On giving any pointers to Crabtree on playing his first game in the NFL:
"There are some things that you can prepare him for, but there are other things that he just has to go through and I think that this is one of them. You have to let those guys line up against him and put their hands on you and see some of the complexities of the defense and how they are setting you up. You come to the sideline with your head on a swivel a little bit, but I don't think that it's going to be too big for him. To me, even though he's come in late, he looks like he's ready."
On whether plans are to still have Crabtree play the slot receiver position versus Houston:
"Right now we're going to continue to see between now and the game how much he progresses, how much he can pick up, and as far as how much he plays, I think it depends on how much success he has when it really gets right down to it. So I think that going forward, that is something that will play itself out in a game."
On whether Crabtree's success out on the field will influence his decision to play him more:
"Obviously, you want to get out here and you want to have good practices. See how it flows out here and if he's picking up the information if it's not too much information, and obviously once you get in the game when the real bullets are flying, that's when you can really tell that ‘you know what - are we helping or hurting his confidence, is he ready for this, do we need to back off a bit?' Or if ‘hey he's ready, let's pick it up a little bit." So I think that he'll tell us."