49ers vs. Rams: The QB Debacle

49ers coach Mike Singletary and once again starting QB Troy Smith spoke with the media earlier today (it's almost midnight Thursday night at this point). I meant to post this earlier but never got around to it. Singletary spent most of the time talking about the QB situation and once again mentioning the possibility of both QBs seeing the field on Sunday. I can't imagine that possibly failing. Enjoy the transcripts after the jump and happy holidays. 

Head Coach Mike Singletary
Press Conference - December 23, 2010
San Francisco 49ers
 
On whether QB Troy Smith will be the starter for Sunday:
"Yes."
 
On why he made the decision to go back to Troy Smith after talking about the need to have the full playbook with QB Alex Smith:
"You know what, it's kind of the same thing I've talked about all year. I feel that Troy has certain strengths, as well as Alex, and I think the way it works out, it is - you know, we could possibly use them both. So that's kind of the way it is right now, but he is the starter."
 
On whether he can say which situations he will use either quarterback for:
"No, not really. I mean, the game will dictate it."
 
On whether he can say which kind of plays he will use each quarterback for:
"No. We could just possibly use both."
 
On what he means by saying the game will dictate who plays:
"The game will dictate it. You know what, I want you to understand this. I'm not trying to be snobbish, I'm not trying to be - I'm just telling you what I can tell you. It's - the game will dictate it. Depending on the situation in the game, depending on what they're trying to do, if we can take advantage of what they're doing, that kind of situation."
 
On whether the situation that would cause him to switch quarterbacks is not the score:
"Right, yes."
 
On when he arrived at the decision of who would start at quarterback and when the coaches knew about his decision:
"I arrived at the decision earlier this week, and the coaches knew earlier this week. But the thing that I want you to understand is this. The coaches knew that the thing that I wanted to do is make sure, and I talked to [offensive coordinator] Mike Johnson, make sure that the game plan is conducive to both their strengths. So even though Troy is going to be the starter, just make sure that the game plan is such that we can possibly use both their strengths in this game."
 
On the challenges of having quarterbacks with different skill sets, and whether it is possible to mesh the two styles of play into a single game plan:
"I don't really think it's a matter of meshing the two, I just think it's a matter of when you have a game plan, just making sure that within that game plan that you know both the quarterbacks strengths, and that's why Troy is taking most of the snaps this week because Alex knows just about all of the things that we could possibly do. So that's the way it works out that way."
 
On whether having three extra days to prepare for this game helps with creating a more versatile game plan with the potential for using two quarterbacks:
"Yes, absolutely. We can have more walk-thrus and things like that."
 
On how much the opponent factors into the decision to start Troy:
"Well, in all honesty, I think it had very little to do with the opponent. It was just making a decision that I felt was appropriate for the rest of the season." 
 
On whether he is concerned that the news of Troy starting was broken before he revealed it:
"No, you know what, I know that now, that that's kind of the way it is, whether it's around the League. When you have twitter, when you have all of the other things, it's not necessarily - and I don't want to be, and I don't want to have this organization be like the firm you know, ‘I don't want you to say anything,' ‘Well, I don't want to hold off on this information.' I knew it was a matter of time before it would get out. And there are things that I absolutely do not want to get out, that won't. But you just have to limit who you're telling. So I knew it was a matter of time before it would get out."
 
On how Alex took the news of losing the starting job for the second time this season:
"Well you know what, I put it this way. The first time he was hurt, and it just kind of worked out the way it did. And really, this time around, I just really felt like it was time to go there, and needed to do that for these last two games, but I've always been honest and straight forward with both of them, so I think he was OK."
 
On whether Troy will definitely start both of the last two games:
"It is definitely Troy for this game. That's all I'm thinking about, this game. So, we'll see what happens."
 
On whether he had a conversation with Troy on not playing tentatively because of the possibility of using two quarterbacks and a potential fear of being benched:
"Troy is the kind of guy that I don't care what I told him about being tentative, he's a guy that can't play tentative. He just can't, it's not in him. There are some guys that you put them on the field, they're going to do what they're going to do, and you have to know what that is and work around it. But I have no reservations or no thoughts in my mind that he's going to do anything but what he has done."
 
On whether he is disappointed in the way that the quarterback situation has changed throughout the season:
"It happens. I mean, the most important thing for me coming into the season is to make sure I gave Alex every opportunity that I possibly could to succeed. I did not impede that in any way. And it's worked out the way it's worked out, and you know, you can say yes, you're disappointed, and you can say a lot of different things, but the bottom line is, it is what it is right now, and you move forward. But I know the information that I need to know."
 
On the chances of RB Anthony Dixon being 100 percent for the game:
"I don't know if any of our guys will be 100 percent, or if any other guys around the League at this point in the season will be 100 percent, but I just know he'll be ready to go."
 
On whether is it safe to say that Johnson knew who the starter was and didn't want to share the information on Wednesday:
"It's safe to say this. Mike Johnson and I talked earlier this week, and the thing that I told not only Mike Johnson, but all of the coaches, is, ‘guys, we're going to prepare for both guys. So there is no definite, Troy is the guy, that's it. We're going to prepare for both guys. I'll let you know at some point in time, when it's a definite, this is the guy and it's unequivocally, that's it.' But in all of our coaches, as well as our players, I communicated with all of them early on."
 
On his indication that he told the quarterbacks his decision on Tuesday and whether Johnson also knew at that point who would start:
"What did you not understand about what I just said, honestly? You know what, it doesn't matter about all of the other, ‘did he know, did he-' I'm just telling you that earlier in the week that I communicated with everybody. Everybody. But the quarterbacks knew it first. The quarterbacks knew it first because I'm always up front with them first, and then everybody else after that. But I want to make sure that no one was to go out and say, well Troy is the guy because if you really did not know if he was going to be the guy, you just knew that I wanted him to start, but the game plan had to be with both of them, both their strengths."
 
On the timeline of when everyone knew about the decision being scattered:
"I know it, but in all honesty, it's difficult for me to go back and say now, let's see now, when did I tell him? I told you earlier in the week what I did, and now I'm just telling you - does that clear it up, what I just said?"
 
On whether he understands why he is being asked about the timeline:
"I do. I'm just trying to explain it as best I can."  
 
On whether he is concerned that with the potential for two quarterbacks that Troy may not have a chance to excel in the fourth quarter, when the team has typically done well against the Rams with both quarterbacks:
"You know what, I just really want our guys at this particular point in the year to really be able to seize the moment. And that's really it. I'm not thinking about, if Troy can't do this - it's not really that. I'm going with Troy, and you go throughout the week and you know, for whatever reason, if they're doing some things that I think we can take advantage of, that Mike and I have already talked about by Alex being in, then we'll do that. But right now, I'm thinking, Troy is the guy, and we're going to go with that."
 
On whether Troy Smith has a better grasp now of the offense, playbook and ability to adjust than when he last started:
"You know I think these past two weeks, I think Troy has continued to get a grasp of the offense, a better grasp of the things, and it's always better when you have a chance to step back and look at somebody else do it. And get a chance to look at, ‘Oh, I would do this differently, or maybe I would do that sooner, or I wouldn't make that call.' So I'm sure he'll be better on Sunday."
 
On whether he can draw from how the team responded to the situation against Seattle in terms of motivation when they could have mathematically been knocked out of the playoff run with a loss:
"I just think that, really, week-in and week-out in the past few weeks, unfortunately, we did not respond in San Diego the way I'd hoped, but I'm confident that our guys will step up and do the things that they need to do, and get on track and be ready to play."
 
On what he learned from the first matchup against Rams QB Sam Bradford and taking advantage of his rookie status from a defensive perspective, and whether they did enough to do that:
"I will say this. I think the thing that I learned about him the first time that we played him is that he is poised, it's not too big for him, and we're going to have to do a good job of confusing the quarterback as much as we can to try and make sure that we disguise on the back end as much as we can, and not make it as difficult for him as we can mentally and physically, really take every opportunity that we can to get after him."
 
On how he felt his strategy against Bradford worked earlier in the year:
"It was OK. I would just say it was OK. I mean, thankfully we won the game, but it was OK."
 
On whether he feels that they can do a better job:
"Hopefully."          
 
 
QB Troy Smith
December 23, 2010
San Francisco 49ers 
  
On how big the opportunity is for him to start against the Rams with the season on the line:
"Huge, huge. You know, for any player to be able to play in a game of this magnitude, have a chance to showcase his talents and, you know, be a part of something special; it's going to be pretty big for all of us."
 
On whether it bothers him that the coaches made it clear that both he and QB Alex Smith could play against the Rams:
"No, No. You know, throughout my preparation, throughout all of the quarterbacks' preparation, we lean on each other for advice, you know, for help within the game plan. Regardless of who's starting the game, we all have one set-out goal and that's to win the game. That's the only thing that we're focused on. You know, the knick-knacks and the other little things that are going on around us, we're definitely channeling that out and worrying about winning this game."
 
On what his week was like time-wise when he found out he would be starting:
"I wouldn't say exhausting because, you know, this is what we do. Your job is your job; you're going to get out exactly what you put into it. And then sometimes things just don't go the way you want them to go, even though you do put crazy man hours into it. But this is work; you can't complain about work, you have to show up on a daily basis, remain humble, stay consistent and continue with your work."
 
On whether he was able to get more preparation in for the Rams game, given the team hasn't played since last Thursday's game in San Diego:
"Oh there's no doubt. I mean, if you sit back and count the days, that's the most literal thing that you would think. Having extra days you get a little bit more time to study, which we did and, hopefully the studying that we put forth is going to pay dividends when we play."
 
On whether he feels that the quarterbacks are being singled out in the locker room, given that the last two times the 49ers have lost games there was a quarterback switch:
"No, I don't think so. I don't think so. I don't feel that way at all. I do have an understanding that, as the quarterback, the load and the majority of - sometimes the good is placed on you and obviously the not so good is placed on you. You as a quarterback have to have an understanding that you have to be able to balance the two, so it's going to come with the territory."
 
On how he can expand his game plan from the first time he played the Rams earlier in the season:
"Well, playing them midway through the season like that, you have to have an understanding that defenses change, people change. You know, obviously we got a chance to be the victor the first time and I'm sure that they want to get a chance to get a win this time. So they're going to change some things that they did and they have an extremely athletic and talented defense and we have to be able to come in and execute."
 
On what it means to have an opportunity to go to the playoffs and not even have a winning record:
"Very blessed; very blessed. This is God's work, you know, obviously. I don't think there was one person in the locker room, granted that I was in Baltimore's locker room, you know, early on, that was thinking, ‘Even if we have a losing record, even if things don't go the way we want them to, we still might be able to be in a position that we want.' I don't think one guy in the locker room thought that way. But then again at the same time, every guy in the locker room has been optimistic about what's going on. We have an understanding that there's a tremendous opportunity at hand and we'll step up and try to take care of it."
 
On whether he agrees with the perception that defenses somehow caught onto him in the last three games he started:
"Who's perception is it? [It's been out there in the media and his coach said it.] I mean, perception is what you - I mean, if that's the case, I can sit and conjure up some things about you guys as I look at you, but that's not really what it is, you know what I mean [laughing]? But, I mean, what I'm trying to say is; those are things that I can't control. Obviously I've seen tremendous quarterbacks this year do tremendous things. And those same quarterbacks who did tremendous things before were put in different situations and it wasn't the same. So, at this quarterback position, you're going to have some where you're just on fire, you're lighting it up, and then you're going to have some days where it's not that way. You just hope throughout the course of the season, throughout the course of the game, that the guy that's underneath center, everybody can look at; not only look at but be confident and proud and know that, ‘This is our quarterback and whether it's a good game, whether it's a bad game, whether it's a mediocre game, we're going to stand behind this guy."
 
On whether opposing defenses were playing him any differently in the latter three games he started as opposed to the first two:
"No. No, I mean, you're going to line up, you're going to see an NFL defense; we're going to line up, they're going to see an NFL offense. We're going to execute the game plan and we're going to call plays, call passes, call runs, whatever the case may be. But, you know, all the defenses are -."
 
On whether there were any strategic differences from the defenses in those latter three games:
"No, not unless you want to watch film because to me it sounds like you're being lazy. You can go up and watch film with me [laughing]. No, I'm not an expert. That's why we practice, that's why we do things on a daily basis, because we're striving for perfection. We're never going to be able to reach it. We're never going to be able to touch it, but you want to be up there with it."
 
On what he could have done differently in those three games:
"Obviously as a quarterback everything, you know, with me is decision making. My decision making could have been much better and I've always been my toughest critic with that. I have an understanding that sometimes the decisions that you're going to make are not the best. You just have to be able to ride with it."
 
On what the sense in the huddle was like during the first Rams game, when the 49ers offense converted on 3rd-and-32 then 4th-and-18, and whether the team recognized what was on the line:
"Oh we did. We did, and the urgency within the huddle was, obviously, ‘We don't want to leave this stadium without a win. We don't want to leave this situation without coming out prosperous.' You know, some things shifted and tilted our way and. You know, we took advantage of it. But who's to say that the next time these chances and opportunities come up that we're going to capitalize? But that's why we practice on a daily basis; that's why we put ourselves into crazy situations out here on the practice field, so that when they happen in the game, it can be just like practice."
 
On whether there was any benefit of not having played in the last two games and watching from the sidelines:
"The start of my career I got a chance to sit back and learn from one of the greats of the game in [former Ravens QB] Steve McNair; learned so much from him. Got a chance to learn from [former Ravens QB] Kyle Boller, got a chance to learn from [current Ravens QB] Joe Flacco, [current Ravens QB] Marc Bulger, [former Ravens QB] Todd Bowman; the list goes on and on who I got a chance to learn from; and now [current 49ers QBs] Alex Smith and David Carr. I'm continuously learning at all times. So definitely, whether I'm playing or sitting on the sideline, being part a part of the team is most important. You know, the small little things that you have going on within yourself, as far as whether you're playing or not; those are minute things. The main thing that we focus on is winning games as a team."

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