Mike Singletary press conference: Injury updates

Mike Singletary conducted his weekly Monday morning press conference earlier today.  After the jump I've posted the transcript.  The injury information is probably the bigger info.  As was indicated, Nate Clements and Joe Staley are both expected back at some point this season.  Staley has a sprained knee that apparently is NOT an ACL tear, so he should be back sooner rather than later.  When we get a better idea of things we'll get info up.

As for Clements, it's possible his injury is similar to that of Brandon Jones, as opposed to the broken scapula of Tony Pashos.  Jones missed a month and a half, although his timing was worse because of training camp.  If Clements could in fact rehab this injury in-season, he seems to be in a better position to get back on the field and make a legitimate contribution (instead of fielding a punt at the 5-yard line!).  Singletary indicated they would want Clements back in time for the playoffs, so it's also possible this is longer term than Jones' injury, but shorter than Pashos.  Either way, Singletary was quick to say he thinks Tarell Brown is ready to start.

The other big discussion was of course around the offense.  Someone pointed this comment out, and I thought it was worth pulling out:

There's not one iota that I'm wavering here or there, whatever. Jimmy knows there are some things going forward that he has to learn about our players, what they can and cannot do. At the same time, look at our plan in terms of, ‘This is who we are as an offense.' It's a work in progress and we just need to keep moving forward, keep getting there.

There's one other comment I wanted to get some thoughts on.  Singletary was asked about the offensive line and he specifically complimented the right side of the line.  I'm curious what people thought overall.  I know there were a variety of comments about the o-line, but I suppose we could focus them in here.  Smith faced a decent amount of pressure, but he also was able to expand the pocket a bit and buy some time.  Maybe that makes the line look a bit better, I don't know.

After the jump is the complete transcript...

Head Coach Mike Singletary
Press Conference - November 2, 2009
San Francisco 49ers

Opening statements:

"Hello ladies and gentlemen. To start with, we have [T] Joe Staley, sprained knee. We will know more about that later on today. [CB] Nate Clements, fractured scapula. We will have to learn more about that toward the end of the day. [DT] Demetric Evans, that is a shoulder, a sprained shoulder. We will see more about that as well as we go on today. Anything other than that  - obviously it was a tough game. We felt that was a game we had prepared to go on the road in a tough environment and come away with, obviously did not. It is more the things we did than the things they did, which is what we talked about. We had to execute. There were too many things that happened during the game. The penalties, you can't do that on the road. It's just not being smart. The thing with [WR] Josh [Morgan] in the end zone, I didn't know about. I saw the touchdown, I saw [TE] Vernon [Davis] doing something and I walked and turned and started talking about something else. Next thing I knew there was a penalty and I said, ‘Wait a minute, you have to be kidding me.' But, I didn't see all the others taking pictures and all that. That's just not very smart. So that's on us, that's on me. Maybe it's a good thing I didn't see, I probably would have overreacted or something. That is just something we can't do. Yesterday was a classic case of an immature team shooting themselves in the foot. We are a good football team, it is those games - and we have had two for sure, three, but I really don't count that last week - it is just one of those things when you are playing those kinds of games, those teams have experience, those teams know where they are going, they know exactly what the heck they are doing and they are executing. We have to get to that point and we will. We will because where we want to go, we have to. It is a simple as that. I will open it up for questions."

On whether his familiarity with broken scapulas helps him guess how long Clements will be out:

"You know what, the only thing I can say about that is everybody is different in their healing process. [WR] Brandon Jones actually came back a little quicker. He came back maybe in six weeks, something like that. He was probably really ready in five. Everybody is different, everybody heals different. The crack could be one degree or another and I really don't know enough about it to answer that question intelligently, so I am going to stay away from it. I don't know. We will just have to wait and see."

On whether he still expects to make the playoffs:

"Absolutely."

On how much it would help if Clements is around while he is injured:

"We will not put him on IR. We will not do that because, Lord's will, if we are in the playoffs I want him to play. He has earned the right to play."

On whether CB Tarell Brown is ready to become a starter:

"Oh yeah, he is ready. He is ready."

On whether he thinks he should have opened up the playbook more:

"Obviously when you look at the game, or when you look at any game, and I'm being very honest about it, I'm not trying to be funny, you can go back and say, "Maybe we should have done this, maybe we should have done that.' But when we looked at our game plan going into the game, once again there were some things execution-wise that did not take place and didn't happen. When you are dealing with a quarterback making the first start of the season, when you are dealing with a wide out that is going to be a great wide out at some point in time that maybe every now and then has a mishap here and there, when you are dealing with an offensive line still trying to gain continuity, that whole thing, when you are dealing with a new coordinator - we are still coming together. It's not quite halfway through the season yet, but hopefully here real soon, those things, we will get a handle on it. We are not there yet, obviously. You saw it yesterday. It is too easy to sit back and say, ‘Well man, the answer was: just go ahead and put him in the spread and let him go.' It's not as simple as that. I'm sure people are talking and I'm sure everybody has a bit of advice here and there. But at the end of the day, I think the most important thing is we know where we want to go, we know what we have to do in order to get there and I know yesterday was frustrating. It is frustrating for us as coaches. It is frustrating because the execution just was not there. When you start looking, not only was the execution not there, some of the little penalties, some of the little setbacks here and there, it's a frustrating thing. You think it is frustrating for you to watch? Try being a coach and coaching it. It is very, very frustrating. But at the same time, I am very confident. Yesterday's game, okay, we lost a game. But at the same time we know why we lost the game. We're not sitting here talking about guys moping and complaining. We don't have those issues. We are not complaining about guys not hustling, not giving 100-percent effort. We don't have those kind of problems. We have problems, not problems, issues, where guys want to do it and they want to be there, but it takes time. It takes a little bit of time when you have that quarterback and you put him in there for the first time. Continuity means something and we just have to get there."

On the criticism that offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye is getting and whether he supports him:

"I 150-percent back what he's doing, absolutely. There's not one iota that I'm wavering here or there, whatever. Jimmy knows there are some things going forward that he has to learn about our players, what they can and cannot do. At the same time, look at our plan in terms of, ‘This is who we are as an offense.' It's a work in progress and we just need to keep moving forward, keep getting there. I do believe that we got better yesterday in certain areas. I think when our players look at the film, they will be very frustrated themselves because it is everything about what we did. The reason that we didn't win that game was because the San Francisco 49ers, we shot ourselves in the foot. It had very little to do with the Indianapolis Colts. And when our team, being as young as they are, when they look at that, they are going to be frustrated walking away from it and come back and be man enough and be the team that has character enough to say, ‘Okay, that's enough of that. At some point in time you just get, ‘Okay, that's enough of that, let's go. Enough of this, enough of that, let's go.' Hopefully, we are at that point right now, where we are ready to take that step and eliminate the foolish plays. Hopefully we are ready to step into the next realm. If we want to be a playoff team, which we do, if we want to be that team, then okay, it's on us. It's not the other team. It's us, so we have to make that decision to make sure that we do everything that we can as players and coaches to say that's it, let's go, let's play the game, let's execute, let's win."

On whether they talked about running spread formations in the second half more and why they didn't use it:

"I think there were a number of reasons. The first reason is when you go into a game with a game plan and I think obviously in two minute situations, some teams have a two-minute situation where it's a great two minutes whether it be [QB] Brett Favre, whether it be [QB] Peyton Manning or however the thing goes, but at the same time it's the amount of exposure that the coaches have had to [QB] Alex Smith. It's the amount of exposure that Alex Smith has had to the offense, leading the offense. You don't want to put him in a situation where, ‘Okay, is Alex really ready to do that?' You take a step back. ‘Is our offensive line really ready to do that?' Once you do that then there are some things that are not happening, which you say, ‘Well, maybe it's the core of your offense.' I think going forward, there's a trust issue there and there's also using wisdom and making sure that if we are going to put them in that situation, why are we putting them in that situation, when do we put them in that situation and is Alex really ready for that? Do we do something to hurt him? That's not something that I want to do. I think Alex, what he's doing right now, he's taken advantage of some opportunities that are there and we are finding out more and more, what routes he throws really well, what he feels really comfortable with. I think as we go along here in the next week or two, it gives us a better idea, when we see in practice, what he can and cannot do, what he really feels comfortable with. Sometimes a guy looks comfortable doing something and it looks so easy, but at the same time, we just want to make sure that this time around, we want to do everything that we can to put Alex in the best situation to be successful because it looks like he is developing very quickly into that quarterback that can be a special quarterback. We are excited about that. We are excited about what we are seeing, but at the same time, don't want to lose our minds. At the same time, we don't want to get greedy, but we want to make sure that he is playing his best football and we want to put him in the best situation to do that."

On his evaluation of Smith's game based on the film:

"I thought Alex did very well. I was very pleased to see him make some throws. I was very excited and anticipated this game for him because I knew the rush was going to be coming at him. I knew that it was just a situation where he wasn't going to sit back there and be comfortable and he got outside of the pocket a few times and he made some good decisions, made some really nice throws. Outside throws, up the field throws, post throws, I thought he made all the throws that he needed to make and he just needed to be more consistent. I thought he handled himself very well in pressure situations and I thought he did a good job."

On whether he was surprised at how much Indianapolis targeted [CB] Shawntae Spencer:

"Not really. I think in this situation, when I look at Shawntae, No. 85 [WR Pierre Garcon] was a guy that they've been going to more and more, becoming more and more a part of their offense and you look at the guy on the other side, [WR] Reggie Wayne. Reggie Wayne's been hurt a bit. He didn't practice a whole lot last week. So I think you are going to go towards the healthy guy."

On whether the next two home games are as must-win as they get:

"In my mind, every game is a must-win. Obviously, we haven't done that, but every game is a must-win because in the final analysis, it's very frustrating to have lost the four games that we have, but I don't look at, ‘Well, the next two games, we've got to...' No, I don't look at it like that because when you do the math, it just comes down to winning the games that we need to win in order to win the division, that's our first goal. I'm not going to lose my mind and say, ‘If we lose the next two, we're done. We might as well pack it up and go home.' I'm not going to say that. I don't anticipate losing the next two. What I anticipate is us staying where we are and staying together and continuing to move forward, getting better each week. We didn't win yesterday, but I know we did get better. For me, it's just very important to stay focused on the goals. For us, ‘Oh, man we've got to win this game. Don't start getting tight.' I don't do that. Just focus on this game that we have this week, the Titans. I'm not going to go into all the other stuff. We have the Titans coming in here this week. Let's go out and do the very best that we can to win the game."

On whether he does the math to determine how many wins this team needs to win the division:

"I do a lot of math on my own when I am sitting in my office, but I'm not going to go in there to my team, to a bunch of young guys that haven't been to the playoffs in seven years and say, ‘Guys we have to get these next two or we are done. These are must-win games.' No. No. I know what we have to do, the coaches know what we have to do, but to a young team, this is all they need to look at: the Titans. Let's look at that. Let's take where we have been so far and sketch it out here to help them understand exactly where we are and the opportunity they have at hand. That is all they need to focus on. Guys, let's win this one, and we will move on from there. And as we move along the road and we mature from there, our guys can continue to see some of those things we talk about come to pass, which they have. As you start to see those things we can talk more of a big picture. But right now, we just have to be focused on the Titans as a team."

On whether the offensive line got better against the Colts:

"I thought our offensive line did better, particularly the right side. I thought the right side of the offensive line did a much better job communicating. They practiced that way this week and I thought it showed in the game against a defensive line that was coming. I thought that [RT Adam] Snyder and [RG] Chilo Rachal did a good job."

On whether or not the team might be geared more toward becoming a passing offense:

"I look at it this way, when I say that I want to be a physical team I want to be a physical team running the ball and I want to be a physical team throwing the ball. I want our receivers to be knocking the snot out of somebody. I want our offensive linemen running down the field hitting somebody. To me, that's physical. I have always said, throwing the ball last year, when [former 49ers offensive coordinator] Mike Martz was here I'm okay with throwing the ball as long as we're not throwing it to the other team, I'm okay with that, but it has to go to our guys and we have the confidence in our quarterback, and our quarterback has confidence in our offensive line, and has confidence in a relationship with the receivers to throw that ball, I don't care about that. I care about winning, that's important to me. I'm not tied up into ‘well, I'm this,' no, I'm not. I want to do whatever we have to do to win and that's what I'm looking for everyday. So that's where I'm at with that."

On whether he is disturbed about the progression of the running game at this time:

"No, I'm not disturbed. I think that rather than coming out of that game being disturbed about that running game, I'm really encouraged by the quarterbacks play and his decision-making, I'm encouraged by our offensive line and the ability to lose probably our best offensive lineman and still compete and do a good job against a very effective pass rush. I'm encouraged that our receivers did a pretty decent job catching the football. I'm encouraged that our defense, even though we didn't get off consistently on third downs, I'm encouraged that our defense played pretty decent in holding a quarterback that will probably maybe in the running, if you check on it, for the MVP of the year. I'm encouraged that four times that [Colts quarterback Peyton Manning] gets into the red zone, he's not scoring a touchdown. I'm encouraged about a number of things coming out of yesterday, but once again I want you to make sure that you understand that I am not in any form or fashion talking about moral victories. You asked me a question and I'm just answering that question. I don't get discouraged. The only thing that I'm discouraged about yesterday - more frustrated than discouraged, is some of the little silly things that we did on our behalf to shoot ourselves in the foot that inhibited our chances of winning a football game on the road against a good football team."

On whether WR Isaac Bruce is one of the best eleven players on the field at this stage in his career:

"I will put it this way: Right now, Isaac Bruce is one of the guys that we count on to win. As far getting into is he one of the best eleven and all of those things, I'm going to say that he gives us a chance to win and in certain situations he is one of the best eleven on the field, and in other situations he isn't. That goes for a number of our receivers and I think that we just have to continue to evaluate our team and our talent and this team right now is going through some changes. You're seeing new guys step up and young guys stepping up and some other guys stepping back and it's going to continue to be that way. I believe in the best eleven guys on the field and whoever that is, that's who is going to be out there."

On LB Patrick Willis' play improving without having the helmet radio:

"Absolutely, I think that if you ask him that I'm not quite sure what he would say, but I think that it certainly allows him to go out there and play and handle what's in front of him rather than trying to get the calls behind him, particularly in a game like that when the quarterback goes down the field so much. Little details and little things like that you have to have that can make tremendous difference in the game so I think it freed him up a bit."

On how S Dashon Goldson did with the use of the radio helmet:

"I thought that he did fine. For the most part, I thought that he did fine."

On whether CB Nate Clements was injured on the punt return:

"He did, I did talk to him last night about that, yes."

On how the offensive line will be affected with the absence of T Joe Staley:

"Obviously, we're going to miss Joe Staley, but in terms of how it is going to affect our offensive line, which in essence is how it is going to affect our offense, you find a way to win. You find a way to work around it. But obviously he will be missed because we think a lot about Joe Staley. I'm hoping he will be back real quick because he helps us tremendously. But at the same time, I know our offense will continue to get better and we just have to continue to work around it and do whatever we have to do."

On the progression of [WR] Michael Crabtree:

"Crabtree right now, I think he is finding that not being in training camp, he can understand now some of those things. He has such an incredible desire to do great, but at the same time his body is still trying to catch up, but he is getting there. He is a work in progress. Every now and then something comes up, there is maybe one play a game, or something like that, where he is a little bit off here and there and uncertain. But overall, I think he has been tremendous overall."

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