San Francisco 49ers 2010 OTAs: Coach Singletary wrap-up

The 49ers wrapped up their May OTAs today and will go their separate ways until OTAs pick back up again in June. In the meantime, Coach Mike Singletary conducted a wrap-up press conference in which he addressed a variety of issues. Singletary spoke about everything from Taylor Mays to his return men to potential veteran free agents.

There were a few intriguing comments that I thought I'd highlight.

On RB Anthony Dixon not practicing today:

"Some of these young guys, we've pushed them pretty hard so far. Anthony is a guy where everything he does, he does full speed, whether it's running in the morning, running after practice, running the plays during the drills. I just think that he ran out of gas a little bit. I just think that it's a credit to him that he's working his tail off. We'll get him out here and he'll be ready to go."

I'd imagine it's not surprising that a rookie might hit a wall in that first big practice. It will be interesting to see how the rookie wall hits Dixon. Of course, given that Frank Gore will be handling most of the carries, the rookie wall may not apply nearly as much.

One particular news item of note is that cornerback Will James has a hairline fracture, although it doesn't state the location of the fracture.

Finally, we got to hear Mike Singletary discuss the Sharks-Blackhawks series:

On whether he is paying attention to the Sharks vs. Blackhawks series and where his allegiance lies:

"First of all, I'm originally from Texas. I'm from Houston. Chicago football team, I'm going to answer it fully, I will always, always love the Chicago Bears for what they did for me. But do I follow the Bears? Do I follow the Bulls? No, I do not. I know the coach, [head] Coach Todd [McLellan] at the Sharks. He and I have talked a number of times. I'm a huge fan of him and his team. As a matter of fact, I called him the other day and just told him best of luck. I was there cheering for the Sharks the other night."

On who instigated you talking with Sharks head coach Todd McLellan:

"It was me. My son, my youngest son loves hockey. I don't fully understand the game, but he loves hockey. For his birthday last year he wanted to go to the game. So, I got in touch with Todd and said, ‘Hey, I'm going to come cheer you on." He said, ‘I may have a couple of tickets for you.' It just happened to work out and he allowed us to come down afterwards. I got to talk with him and since that time we've been to several games. He and I have exchanged conversations and just had some positive conversations. I like him and I like what he's doing and wish him nothing but the best."

Head Coach Mike Singletary
Post-Practice - May 20, 2010
San Francisco 49ers

Opening Statement:

"Good afternoon. It's nice to get through this week without anyone really getting injured. I thought we had good practices. I thought the guys showed well. I thought our young guys - I was impressed with the group. Guys ran every morning and really did a nice job getting the playbook and understanding what they are supposed to do. This is a good group. The group that we brought in this offseason has got to be one of the best I've seen. I'm very excited about the group and I'm excited about our team. There's a lot of competition across the board. Wherever you look, there's competition. That's very exciting, so it's going to be a nice offseason. It gives us a great opportunity to continue to get better and those 53 guys that come out of this, it should be exciting."

On how he gauges this group as one of the best in comparison to others:

"I think from the energy out here, the amount of mistakes, the way they respond in the classrooms, the preparation. These guys are smart. You've got [S] Taylor Mays, [LB Navorro] Bowman, [WR] Kyle Williams. A lot of these guys, the two linemen that we brought in. Those guys are on it. The coaches are really excited about working with them. They aren't just leaving here and going back and running around and watching TV. These guys are studying their playbooks, not just the guys that I named, but a number of those guys were impressive. The running back, the [Anthony] Dixon kid, they work hard and it's a breath of fresh air."

On Taylor Mays stands out to him in terms of physicality:

"Taylor Mays is a kid that we are really excited to get our hands on. Yes, you look at him and he's a guy that we are really working with him on fundamental things and the way we play safety, our guys are interchangeable and we had a hunch that he would be able to do some of the things, whether it's in the box or playing man-to-man, whatever it might be. We're working on those things and he's doing well. So the ability that he has with being able to put the technique with it is going to be exciting."

On whether ball security or playmaking ability is more important in punt returning:

"Ball security is the number one thing. I don't care how fast he is. I don't care how many guys he can make miss. If he can catch the ball, that's step number one. Whatever comes after that, if we can get five yards, that's fine, but just don't drop the ball. Ball security is number one."

On whether he is challenging his return men more this offseason:

"I think in season's prior, we didn't have much competition in terms of return guys. That was a priority going into the offseason. Now that we have a little bit to choose from, it makes sense to try and press a little more, as much as we can without losing our minds to make sure that we have some guys back there that not only can just secure the ball, but help us in the field position areas."

On how LB Ahmad Brooks and LB Travis LaBoy are looking right now filling LB Manny Lawson's role:

"They are doing fine. They are learning, and you look at Travis LaBoy, he's continuing to work through the injuries that he had. Ahmad is doing a nice job, so both of those guys are doing well. Manny I'm sure wherever he is - he's in Arizona, he's working his tail off. He knows what's here. There's competition here and I'm sure that's the way he wants it, but we are just going to try and get better in every area that we can."

On whether QB Alex Smith being more vocal prior to the snap is something he's encouraged him to do or it's happened more naturally:

"That's something that we talked about a number of times last year, being able to take control of the offense and being able to have a command of the huddle and have a command of what we're doing. I remember a conversation that I had with him last year because we were talking about it and he said, ‘Coach, in all honesty, everything that you want, I can give you. I know that I can do it,' but he said, ‘I just need a little continuity and I'm still trying to learn some of the things that we are doing. Once I get it, I promise you I will show you that I can take command of the offense. I will do all the things that you are looking for,' and I left it at that. Given the opportunity, we did have some continuity this offseason and it was very nice to see him step up and do exactly what he said he was going to do."

On whether QB Alex Smith is all the way there:

"I wouldn't say that he's all the way there. I don't think he would say that. I just think it's very good to see him take the necessary steps that he has and he just has to continue to come forward."

On RB Anthony Dixon not practicing today:

"Some of these young guys, we've pushed them pretty hard so far. Anthony is a guy where everything he does, he does full speed, whether it's running in the morning, running after practice, running the plays during the drills. I just think that he ran out of gas a little bit. I just think that it's a credit to him that he's working his tail off. We'll get him out here and he'll be ready to go. "

On whether there was a noticeable change in the conditioning of the rookies since minicamp:

"They listened. The last time we got together I told them we're going to run. That's one of the things that we're going to do, we're going to run. We're not going to be afraid to do that. The best conditioned team is the team that really has the best chance to win. I think the guys took it to heart and they've been working. It's very noticeable."

On whether the offense has been focusing more on the deep pass:

"I think the offense right now...Jimmy Raye knows that as [QB] Alex [Smith] gets a better control of the offense as the offensive line continues to develop their protection package and doing all of the things and understanding the language that we can open it up a bit. We can push the ball down the field a little bit more. Once again we're still striving to reach that balance of the run and pass."

On whether there is any thought to bringing in veteran guys who could make the roster:

"Anything could happen because I think the goal is we want to make sure that every chance we have to better the football team we want to do that. But at the same time, we want to focus on the guys that are here. I don't want to say, ‘Well, we've got everything that we need here.' I don't want to do that. I just want to say that I'm very pleased with what we have. We just need to develop what we have here fully. If we can do that, I think we have a chance to accomplish what we want to accomplish."

On whether he talked to [S] O.J. [Oshiomogho] Atogwe about joining the 49ers during free agency:

"I think right now we are just leaving those things where they are. Yes, I do know O.J., but it's not one of those things where we talk about it, no. We're developing our team and he has his team. If that changes then we'll look at that at the appropriate time. Right now it's just not something that we're thinking about."

On whether he has had the talk with O.J. Atogwe about why he would or would not join the 49ers:

"I would just say this, by being around him as much as I have been, we've had some conversations but nothing to the point of, ‘We'd really like to have you here.' We don't really get into that."

On why CB William James is not working with the defense:

"Right now, Will is just trying to really fully understand the defense and at the same time totally heal. He's got a little hairline here or there and it will be a couple of weeks before he's ready to go."

On where William James' hairline fracture is located:

"You know what, I will say this. I'll let [head athletic trainer] Fergie [Jeff Ferguson] answer that for you because I want to be exact when I'm talking to you."

On whether he is paying attention to the Sharks vs. Blackhawks series and where his allegiance lies:

"First of all, I'm originally from Texas. I'm from Houston. Chicago football team, I'm going to answer it fully, I will always, always love the Chicago Bears for what they did for me. But do I follow the Bears? Do I follow the Bulls? No, I do not. I know the coach, [head] Coach Todd [McLellan] at the Sharks. He and I have talked a number of times. I'm a huge fan of him and his team. As a matter of fact, I called him the other day and just told him best of luck. I was there cheering for the Sharks the other night."

On who instigated you talking with Sharks head coach Todd McLellan:

"It was me. My son, my youngest son loves hockey. I don't fully understand the game, but he loves hockey. For his birthday last year he wanted to go to the game. So, I got in touch with Todd and said, ‘Hey, I'm going to come cheer you on." He said, ‘I may have a couple of tickets for you.' It just happened to work out and he allowed us to come down afterwards. I got to talk with him and since that time we've been to several games. He and I have exchanged conversations and just had some positive conversations. I like him and I like what he's doing and wish him nothing but the best."

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