And we're back finally with an injury report. Given the apparent length of the bye week, this is just one more exciting step in our return to actual football for the rest of the season. The importance of this game only adds to the level of excitement. As for the return of Frank Gore from injury? Well that just puts me over the top. Michael Lewis remains a question mark. Singletary indicated Lewis was "...doing fine, seems to be doing great," but his comments seem to indicate that it's a game-time decision. If that's the case, I'd have to agree with Barrows and guess that we'll see Mark Roman as the starting strong safety.
Over on the Texans side of the report, the most intriguing listing was LB Brian Cushing who did not practice today because of a foot issue (I refuse to say he did not practice "because of a foot.") Cushing leads the Texans in tackles and has been playing extremely well thus far. We'll keep an eye on his status the rest of the week.
Out (Definitely will not play)
SS Reggie Smith (groin)
Limited Participation in Practice
CB Tarell Brown (illness)
S Michael Lewis (concussion)
DE Ray McDonald (ankle)
Full Participation in Practice
RB Frank Gore (ankle, foot)
CB Marcus Hudson (shoulder)
Did not Participate in Practice
LB Brian Cushing (foot)
S Nick Ferguson (knee)
Limited Participation in Practice
DE Mario Williams (shoulder)
Full Participation in Practice
K Kris Brown (right ankle)
LB DeMeco Ryans (chest)
Just a reminder that I've attached Mike Singletary and Shaun HIll's post-walk thru press transcripts...
Head Coach Mike Singletary
Post-Walk Thru - October 21, 2009
San Francisco 49ers
"Hello. It's great to get into another week after the bye week, going on the road to Houston, a good football team. We face a great challenge. They're certainly a team that is playing with confidence on the offensive side of the ball. The quarterback is playing well, Matt Schaub. The wideout, No. 80, [Andre] Johnson, is playing well. The running back is playing well. On the defensive side of the ball, we're going to have our hands full making sure that we contain those guys. Their offensive attack is a good one. They're striving for balance, but they're throwing the ball well right now, and they're striving to run the ball as well. I think, going forward, this week we have to have a great week defensively.
Offensively, obviously, No. 90 jumps out at you, Mario Williams, as well as their linebackers, particularly No. 59 does a good job leading the defense. Mario is getting better with each game, playing with more confidence. Their defense is really coming together well. I think, for us on the offensive side of the ball, we have to have a great week's practice and make sure that the most important thing for us is continuity going into the game, making sure that we communicate great in our offensive line, our scheme. Once again, we're continuing to rotate [G] Chilo [Rachal] as well as [G Adam] Snyder at the right guard position. [T Tony] Pashos will be the starting right tackle at this point. To me, that's going to help us going forward. Our quarterback Shaun Hill, he knows he's going to have to do a better job, and he will. I just think that this week, there should be some things starting to come together offensively in terms of continuity and communication and those things. This is the sixth week going forward, so I'm very excited about the opportunity at hand."
On whether he knows who the starting X receiver is going to be:
"Not right now. We're not in position to name the starter yet. It will either be [WR] Josh [Morgan] or [WR Michael] Crabtree. Right now, as we look at the three guys, when you look at [WR Isaac] Bruce, you look at Josh, you look at Crabtree, we look at all those guys as starters, possible starters. I think, for us, Crabtree coming in the way that he's come in, a tremendous attitude, a tremendous work ethic, been doing everything he can to get on the field and I think the most important thing for us is to get him out there as soon as we can and as much as we can and see what he can and cannot do. It's one thing to practice. It's another thing to get in the game and play the game full speed. I just think it's very important for us to find out as soon as we can how much of a playmaker he can be."
On what he has seen in the short period of time that Crabtree has practiced that puts him in consideration for a starting job:
"I think it's a matter of sense of urgency for him. He's had a tremendous attitude coming in with some of the guys really ribbing him, a tough love kind of deal. Coaches as well. He has responded with nothing less than a smile and, ‘OK coach. I got it, but can I see the playbook? Coach, how about this question? How about this route? How about this?' When you have a kid like that and he comes out, the young man works hard every day. He doesn't really have to tell you what he's been doing while he wasn't here. You see it. You see it in his route running. You see it in the way he runs the route and his margin for, I guess, running a bad route or whatever. That's not something you see very often. You tell him something one time, it's normally the only time you have to tell him. I think there are a lot of reasons. It shows why we drafted him where we drafted him at the 10th slot. So, I'm excited to see what he has. So, going forward, I just think that it's going to be in our best interest offensively to try and find out how much of an effect that he can have to our offense, how much of a playmaker he really can be."
On whether he has an idea of how much Crabtree will play:
"I do not. I think one of the things I've said before is he is going to be the one who controls that. If he goes out and he can start early and he's having a good game, he's in rhythm, he's running the right patterns, running the right routes, he's blocking - he's doing all the things that we see him doing out here, then I think chances are he will play more. But, he will determine that."
On whether he is concerned about the message sent by giving Crabtree a chance to start:
"I think there are a number of different messages that I can send, but I think the most important message is that we want to win. When you see the young man run the routes, when you see his presence on the field, what he does for the offense, it's not like I'm the only one. I'm not having to fight anybody to say, ‘Hey, you know what? What do you think? Do you think maybe he's a starter? Maybe not?' He's certainly going to play a lot, and that's really the bottom line. It shows that he hasn't been sitting around on the couch looking at television. He's been working. When you have a guy like that, it doesn't - you don't have to be a Phi Beta Kappa to figure it out. If the guy can play, if he can make plays, put him on the field. Give him a chance. Lets' see what he can do. I can be stubborn. I could be a knucklehead and say, ‘You know what? He wasn't here. Josh is going to start, or this guy's going to start and that's the way it's going to be.' Well, you know what? I think I want to be fair to the team. The team comes first, and the team wants to win. And, we're going to do all that we can to make sure that we have the best 11 people on the field at all times that give us a chance to win."
On the ribbing Crabtree received from teammates:
"Ribbing in love. It was all in good fashion, all in good taste. Doing the things that normal rookies do. You come in, you've got to sing your song. Or, if you don't know your fight song, then think of a song. If you can't sing, then let's dance. When I had my birthday last week, he was the guy that was signing the Happy Birthday song. They had him doing all types of things, and after a while, I just said, ‘Hey, how about you just relax and let the kid focus on what he's doing.' Not one time did he complain. Not one time did he show any body language of, ‘I'm above this.' He's been a team guy since he's been here. The thing that I don't want to do, I don't want to sit up here and paint a picture of Michael Crabtree. Obviously, the only thing I know is what I've seen. I think that's very important. Any conversation that I've had with him, anything that he's done out here on the field has all been positive. But, I don't want to paint him out as something that he hasn't shown you yet. So, let's let him play and next week we can talk about it again and maybe some of these questions, they'll answer themselves."
On Crabtree's singing voice:
On whether he's leaning towards starting Crabtree and what it says about Morgan's character in the case that Crabtree could replace him:
"I think Josh understands the overall scheme. I think Josh knows that at the end of the day, when you look at the number of plays that he's going to play and the number of plays that Crabtree's going to play, probably, Josh is going to have more plays. But, once again, we'll let the game dictate that. I think Josh is smart enough to know how we do things. I think he knows that we're fair and we're just not going to take him and put him in the barn and lock the door and say, ‘OK, thanks Josh for what you've done. That's it.' He knows that he has to continue to develop, as well as all of our guys. That's kind of where we are, and I think he understands that."
On whether he's concerned with QB Shaun Hill's unfamiliarity with Crabtree not having thrown to him that much:
On why he isn't concerned:
"Because he's a quarterback and I just think it's one of those things where he's had a chance to throw to him out here, and he'll have a chance to throw to him this week. Obviously, Shaun Hill and the other receivers, no one right now is just down pat on time, except for maybe [TE] Vernon Davis because I think he's thrown to Vernon more than he's thrown to anyone this offseason. I think, going forward, it's kind of new to everyone, that timing thing, that trust thing. It's only going to come with time. Going forward, we'll just have to see how it goes."
On whether QB Alex Smith is in the picture:
"Alex Smith has never been out of the picture. It's as I said way back when, whoever the starting quarterback is going to be, that's the starting quarterback. I don't want him looking toward the sideline wondering if we're going to take him out if he's not playing well. We have to decide that as a staff, when I sit down and talk to [offensive coordinator] Jimmy Raye. Right now we feel that Shaun Hill is our guy. We haven't looked at Alex Smith and said, ‘Wow.' This is who we have. This is who we brought to the dance and we just have to see how it goes. At no time are we thinking about, ‘Why don't we do this for Alex Smith.' We have Shaun Hill, that's who we are, and until that changes, that's what it is."
On the status of S Michael Lewis:
"We are just going to take it one day at a time. He is doing fine, seems to be doing great. But at the same time, when you are talking concussion, or any kind of an injury, we are going to make sure we stay in touch with the doctors and trainers, making sure that we are all staying on the same page and doing what's best for that individual."
On whether RB Frank Gore is 100-percent:
"I don't think once you start the season anyone is ever 100-percent. All I know is I'm looking at him right now and he's doing pretty good. So, we'll see."
QB Shaun Hill
Post-Walk Thru - October 21, 2009
San Francisco 49ers
On how much time he has had to work with WR Michael Crabtree:
"I've gotten to throw to him a little bit last week. I'm impressed with the things that I've seen, so I'm excited to see what he can do."
On whether he senses the excitement of what Crabtree might bring to the organization:
"Yeah, I can see that he has special talents without a doubt. He brings a lot of playmaking ability, he brings a big target and I've been pretty impressed in the way that he's been able to pick up everything as well."
On how the locker room receives the idea of Crabtree starting after missing all of this time:
"I haven't heard of any rumblings or anything like that. That's part of this business - people come in and rosters change throughout the year, so that kind of thing happens."
On whether or not he notices the change at the right side of the offensive line:
"I don't think about any of that stuff. It's nothing that I have to get used to. My concentration is on the second and third level [of the defense]. I've got enough to worry about out there than to think about that."
On what aspect the offense has to improve upon:
"Obviously, it mainly comes down to third downs, to convert on third downs better. I need to find more completions out there throughout the game and get more big plays, but I think that the main area is third down."
On how the team can solve that issue:
"Obviously, we have to get in more third and manageables. We've been in third and long way too much. It's very hard to convert on third and longs in this league, so that comes down to our execution on first and second downs. We need to be better on those downs."
On whether he sees the change on the offensive line as a good one at this time:
"Yeah, a tweak could be good for us without a doubt. It kind of depends on how everybody reacts to it as well, but I think that we have the right people in that locker room where we will make it work."
On what other rookie hazing did Crabtree have to go through:
"That was about it, we don't really do whole lot of that stuff around here anyways. During training camp the rookies have to sing and that's about it, so that's all he's had to do."
On whether he throws to each receiver differently:
"Yes and no. Our route depths and things like that aren't different because somebody else is in there. The only thing is kind of reading somebody's body language and knowing what they do well. Some of that stuff will definitely work out this week."
On how he reads his wide receivers:
"The more time you are with somebody, you can tell when they are going to come out of their break just by reading their body language, things of that nature. You know what they are going to do based on their release against press-man, things of that nature."
On whether the offense is built to have interchangeable wide receivers:
"Yeah, exactly. That's the way it is set up. Obviously there are little differences. More than me going to have to adjust to him, he is going to have to adjust to that timing and that speed we have been installing in this offense."
On whether there will be any changes in the playbook to accommodate Crabtree:
"No, I don't think so."
On what impact Crabtree can make:
"I think he can be a playmaker for us and I'm just excited to have another big target out there."
On whether Crabtree knows every play:
"I'm not 100-percent sure to be honest with you."
On the Houston defense:
"They are a good team, a very good team. Their front is very active and they get after the passer pretty good. We'll have to play well for sure."
On whether he places any extra effort on himself this week because of Houston's potent offense:
"No, I eliminate all pressure throughout the week with my preparation. I know I am going to do everything I can throughout the week so I'm successful on Sunday. If you do that, there's never any reason to have any pressure."
On whether it is possible to learn the offense one game plan at a time:
"As a quarterback? No, that is pretty difficult to do."
On whether a wide receiver could learn the offense one game plan at a time:
"As a wide receiver, I think it is a heck of a lot easier. There are little nuances and things that a quarterback needs to know that other positions don't, per se. Yeah, I think it is a lot easier for somebody at a wide receiver position to step in like that than somebody at the quarterback position."
On whether Crabtree only needs to learn the plays being used this week:
On why the 49ers have lost five straight games after the bye week in the past:
"Nope, I didn't even know that was the case. This is a different team, a different year. So no, I hadn't even given that any thought."