And so we begin our last run of practice reports for the 2009 season. Nothing of particularly major concern. Isaac Bruce didn't practice today, but it sounds like they basically just want to rest him up for Sunday and give him a good shot at playing. For the Rams, Steven Jackson sat out last week and didn't practice today, but it sounds like he's expected back this weekend.
Limited Participation in Practice
QB Shaun Hill (back)
G Chilo Rachal (knee)
Full Participation in Practice
RB Glen Coffee (thigh)
Limited Participation in Practice
WR Donnie Avery (thigh)
LB James Laurinaitis (knee)
OT Jason Smith (concussion)
Head Coach Mike Singletary
Post-Walk Thru - December 30, 2009
San Francisco 49ers
"Good afternoon. First of all, I'll go through the injuries. [LT Joe] Staley: knee contusion, will be day-to-day. [RG] Chilo [Rachal]: knee strain, will be day-to-day. [CB Shawntae] Spencer had a wrist. He should be OK. [K Joe] Nedney, out. [RB Glen] Coffee, we'll see how it goes today. [WR] Isaac Bruce, we'll see how he feels. And [CB] Nate Clements is out.
It's a great opportunity for us this week to go on the road. It's our last game of the season, so we want to finish on a great note. We want to go there and play the very best football that we can play, and once again, we're looking for that complete game where the offense and defense and special teams are clicking on all cylinders. We want to start fast and play the best football game of the year.
I'm very happy about the Pro Bowl situation, how it worked out. [LB] Patrick Willis, I'm very happy for him and all the work he's put into it. [TE] Vernon Davis, I'm really excited about him. He's just taken one step after the next and just continued to go in the right direction, starting from the end of last season, continuing to have the right mindset going forward, doing all the right things. He works harder - he and Patrick Willis both - are both great examples on both sides of the ball. He was named a captain early on in the year because he exemplified what it's all about because he is an All-Pro, and he's just going to continue to get better. [P] Andy Lee, I'm excited about him and him being named to the (Pro Bowl) team. I'm excited about [RB] Frank Gore. With all that he's gone through this year, to be a first alternate is great. [DT] Justin Smith, being a second alternate, that was really exciting. And the, of course, [RB] Michael Robinson being a second alternate. I'm a little bit disappointed that [NT] Aubrayo Franklin was not named in some capacity to the (Pro Bowl) team, but I understand it. He's right there in the middle of it all in the trenches, and sometimes it's hard to see and appreciate the work that those guys do. Hopefully, next year.
Going forward, we need to have a great week of work this week, get out here and have a great tempo, get the music as loud as we can and prepare for a good football game. I'm not really concerned whether or not the running back plays, Steven Jackson whether he plays or not. I don't care who the quarterback is going to be. It doesn't matter. The most important thing for us is to make sure that we're prepared, we're ready to go. And, when we get there, whoever is there, we're going to line up and we're going to play our game. So, that's the thing that we're going to be focused on all of this week."
On whether WR Isaac Bruce will play:
On whether Bruce asked to play:
"Actually, his teammates, which I think is much better. I had asked him earlier what his thoughts were on possibly playing in the game, if he thought about it or whatever. And he said, ‘Possibly not.' Then, when I told him about his teammates asking me and inquiring about it, I think it was shocking to him. I'm excited about him finishing the way he should finish. So, I'm excited about that."
On how his teammates expressed it:
"I don't want to go through the whole process, but it was just a matter of those guys he mentors all the time and he's around and has had a chance to visit with each and every one of them and talk to them about what it is to be a pro - and more importantly, showing what it is to be a pro - that group of guys made it known that they would like to see him play."
On whether there is any concern for putting Bruce at risk for injury with him not having played in a while:
On why there is no concern:
"There is no concern about it."
On how many players came to him asking for Bruce to play:
"That group, that body of players. Anybody that represents that room, the wide receivers, that body of players."
On when this occurred:
"Early in the week."
On what his advice to Bruce would be about playing in what might be his final game:
"In terms of how to end it? I think every player that is in his position, there is no one that can really tell them, ‘You should do this. Or, think about that' or whatever. I think when you've earned the right to be in his position, you've earned the right to finish whichever way you need to. So, we won't put him at risk. We'll be smart about it, but I'm excited that he'll have the opportunity to do that."
On whether Bruce would play if it was any other team the 49ers were facing this week:
"I don't know. Don't know."
On when he suspects to know whether Bruce will play or not:
"When do I suspect? "
On when he will know whether Bruce will play:
"Today. Now. There's a pretty good chance that he will play - a very good chance he will play."
On his memories from his final game as a player:
"That was a long day. It was a bad season, the end of a bad season and I think the last game was the Dallas Cowboys. They were at the peak of being a great football team. Emmitt Smith was running wild. Michael [Irvin] out at the wide receiver position was talking all kinds of trash. They were a great football team, and that was our last game. So, we went into Texas Stadium and played them. I just remember Michael looking at me and putting his arms around me at the end of the game because I was really frustrated because they were beating us and there was nothing we could do. He just put his arms around me and said, ‘Hey Mike, you guys had your chance. It's our turn. Can you just give us that? So, be happy for us.' And, I said, ‘Sure.' It was a long day."
On whether he played the game knowing it would be his last:
"Yes. I started the season knowing it was going to be my last."
On his thoughts about Terri Valenti of Palo Alto wanting to become the first female referee in the NFL:
"I'm going to stay away from that whole referee scene, the whole - there is a lot that I could say about it. I'm sure, hopefully, she'd do a great job. But, I'm going to stay away from that because I'll get myself in trouble - not about her, just about the whole referee deal. So, I'm going to stay away from that. More power to her. I hope she does great. She needs to be tough. I will say that. She needs to be tough and really know the rules and understand what the rules are and have the courage to stand by those rules and call it the way she sees it. I'll stay away from the rest of it."
On whether QB Alex Smith has done enough to secure himself as the quarterback of the future:
"I will just say this: I'm confident in Alex. I think our coaching staff is confident in Alex. I think, going forward, it's just going to be a matter of him continuing to mature and at some point in time, hopefully it's this Sunday, but at some point in time he's going to know, and everybody else will know, that he's the guy that can take us where we need to go. So, I think that it's one of those things that it's a work in progress. He has done enough for me at this point to say that going forward, I don't see why I would doubt it."
On how QB Shaun Hill and Smith handled the quarterback competition on a professional level:
"I think it has been nothing short of spectacular, the way two men who are extremely competitive handled the situation. It was not easy. It's never been easy. It never is when you are the point guy and knowing that you're great friends as well. That has been tough, but for them, I'm sure they have matured a lot as well, emotionally, through that whole process. Difficult, but it shows the class of both of them."
On LB Patrick Willis being on his way to finishing the season leading the league in tackles:
"I just think Patrick is a very unique guy. He's a guy who's always going to be around the ball. He has the instincts. He has the speed. He can be where he wants to be. But, he's naturally going to make more plays than other linebackers simply because he can be in certain places that they can't, simply because of his speed. So, any time he's leading in tackles - it won't always be that way. I see other guys. Our defense will continue to evolve, continue to get better, but he's always going to be around there somewhere."
On whether Willis leading the league in tackles says anything about the offense not staying on the field as much:
"No. I think whether the defense is on the field or not, I think that he's going to be a guy who is going to have a lot of tackles."
On whether he believes that the final two games of the season carries over into the offseason and the following season:
"I'm a believer that everything you do at the end of the season, particularly when you find out in the last couple of games to go that you're not going to be in it. I'm a strong believer that it has everything to do with the way you finish going into the next year. It's a little bit frustrating that you have to look at it that way. No one is responsible for where we are but us. I think that we have to end strong and go in to the offseason on a good note and make the most of it."
QB Alex Smith
Post-Walk Thru - December 30, 2009
San Francisco 49ers
On possibly being the last quarterback to ever through a pass to WR Isaac Bruce:
"It's a tremendous honor to even be on the same team with Isaac. Obviously with all that he's accomplished in his career, the person that he is too, just to get to know him, it is clearly evident, being around him, why he has accomplished all that he's has accomplished in his life. It's easy to see why. For all of us to be around him, to have this chance to be around him, especially early on in our careers is a tremendous honor."
On the work Bruce has done with the young receivers and how that has developed:
"I think you can see them pick up as much as they can from Isaac. I think the attention to details that Isaac displays, day-in, day-out, the work ethic, day-in, day-out, doing the little things. Those are things that I see and I'm sure all the receivers see. Every day he continues to do the little things, the fundamentals. He never assumes that he'll get it on game day. He displays them out here on the practice field every day. It's pretty remarkable for a guy that has accomplished what he's accomplished and still does things like that."
On an example of his football IQ:
"I think his feel for coverages and zones and how to manipulate defenders, his stem routes are extraordinary. It would probably take a long time to gather all that from him. I think it's the little things with him that are just as impressive, to see him hustle and block downfield during practice and that isn't necessarily required out here on the practice field. I think he really sets the tone for a lot of those guys out there. I think the unselfishness that he has is remarkable."
On what he thinks as a teammate about Bruce being named as an honorary starter:
"I don't know. I haven't put that much thought into that at this point, honestly. This is Isaac going back to the place where he played for such a long time and accomplished so much. So, to tell you the truth, I think, leave it up to him. Obviously, I think it's one of those things where he's accomplished enough to have a say in what he wants. It's not for anyone of us to really dictate that."
On the young players telling Coach Singletary they want Bruce to play and whether that is a sign of how much he means to them:
"I think so. I think it's a sign of the respect and how much they think of Isaac and I think it goes back to it's not just as a player. I don't think it's so much what he's accomplished on the field. I think it's the person that he is, the guy that he is in that locker room, the mentor that he is to so many of us, not just receivers."
On the mentor he is behind the scenes:
"I think a little bit goes into the pride that he has in his craft, going out there and being a football player and playing receiver. He can still do it. It's not that he just came in as a mentor and was just doing that. I think he still has the ability to play this game, but with that, especially the last few weeks, I've really seen him doing more and more to do what he can to help this team and if that role is helping some of those young guys, he's been doing it."
On how he views this final game in terms of his development as a starting quarterback:
"It's the last game of the season. It's the last taste in all of our mouths before this long offseason. I think it's important, for so many reasons, to finish strong. It's still a game; it's an important game. Although we aren't playing for the playoffs, every one of these 16 games are always important. These are huge games. Not many people get this opportunity. There are only 32 starting quarterbacks in the league, so you have to take advantage of it. You have to, you don't know what the future holds and you can't always assume things that will come. So, I think it's important for all of us to take advantage of this. We have to do what we can to finish on a high note and build for the future and capitalize on all that we've done this year."
On his confidence has been over the course of these starts:
"I think it's as high as it's ever been, absolutely. When you get away from the game a little bit, you forget what it's like out there. It's difficult to maintain some of that until you get back out on the field and over the course of the last nine weeks, it's been great to get back out there and be able to do that again, being a starter week-in and week-out and what that feeling is like and competing each week in preparing for a game. It's the best that I've felt ever in my career."
On how much of a believer in taking some momentum into the offseason:
"Momentum is a very real thing. It's not necessarily tangible all the time, but very real. I think it's very important for us to build on. I think on the offensive side of the ball, some of the things that we've done this year, I think it would be nice to put it all together. We've talked a lot about consistency this year and being consistent players as an offensive unit. I think it would be great to really finish on that note."
On TE Vernon Davis making the Pro Bowl:
"I'm happy for him. He's worked tremendously hard over the last few years to get to where he is today. People haven't always backed him. People haven't always been there for him and he's continued to work hard and not let that waiver him from where he wanted to go and he continued to work hard for it and now he is going to the Pro Bowl. It's a big achievement, so I'm extremely happy for him."
On how much he is looking forward to not having to learn another playbook this year:
"It's going to be great, but I'll think about that next week. Honestly, I'm really focusing in on St. Louis. It's easy to get distracted at this point, with the end of the season nearing, so I'm maintaining focus on the Rams."
On playing the Rams on the road:
"We've struggled on the road this year and I think it's important for that reason as well, going into a dome, division opponent. No matter their record, they will be ready to go. It won't be an easy environment to play in."