Coach Mike Singletary Media Session: Cracking the 53-man roster code

Due to the shortened game week, the 49ers conducted their normal end of week walk-through today. I had always had a few ideas about the walk-through, but I didn't realize how literal it is. I'm currently reading A Few Seconds of Panic by Stefan Fatsis. Fatsis worked it out so he could take part in the Denver Broncos 2006 training camp as a kicker. I'm probably about 2/3 of the way done with it and am really enjoying it. If you get a chance, I highly recommend grabbing (I bought it myself, not a free sample I received).

Anyways, I mention it because he discusses the walk-through that the Broncos do before their first preseason game against the Detroit Lions. Among other things, It involves calling out plays and having the proper personnel get into formation, run on the field, and so forth. It's quite a literal term.

Coach Singletary spoke after the walk-through and spoke to a few intriguing issues. Obviously none of us knows Coach Singletary well enough to always interpret what he's saying, but his words after the jump might reveal some clues as to the 53-man roster and certain roles once the season starts. For example, he speaks about Travis LaBoy coming to camp banged up but slowly working back to health. Singletary mentioned the idea of LaBoy eventually working with the special teams unit once he feels completely healthy, which would indicate he'll be around for a while. This isn't a shocking development, but it certainly confirms what many of us feel.

Another example is Philip Adams and Kyle Williams. When asked if Philip Adams had won the main punt return job, Coach Singletary said not the main job, but that he was one of them. And when speaking about Kyle Williams and his injury, he said it was a week to week thing (as opposed to day to day) and the team would reevaluate his punt return role once he's completely healthy. Again, potentially meaning the team is intent on keeping him long term. Not a shocking conclusion, but potentially more confirmation. Williams is apparently not expected to practice this week, which would indicate the team should have an idea of what they want to do with him this Saturday when they cut down to 53 players.

The other comment I found interesting was about deciding on the 53-man roster versus deciding on the practice squad versus deciding on the 45 players that will be active each Sunday. This can obviously affect how you go about selecting players. Ninjames posted about which players the team might struggle slipping through waivers to the practice squad (or retaining on the practice squad). This is something that has to be factored in to this weekend's roster cuts:

On whether he has a fairly good idea of who his 53 guys to make the team are:

"I have a decent idea, but there are some things that the game could influence. They're always few things that the game could influence and it's just a matter of in that fourth game, it just depends on what jumps out at you. It's just one of those things that you're just there at the game, and you're thinking this guy may be a candidate for the practice squad. This guy may be a candidate for the 53, you know this guy may be a candidate for the 45, and they do something in that game that tilts it one way or the other. This guy may or may not make the team. So those scenarios that I just went through, they can be answered in that last game."

On whether LB Diyral Briggs is a good example of that:

"He is a very good example of that. He is a very good example of that, yes."

After the jump, I've posted Coach Singletary's transcript. You can also watch the video of his press conference or listen to the audio.

Head Coach Mike Singletary
Post-Walk-Through - August 30, 2010
San Francisco 49ers

On whether he was pleased with what he has seen so far and if the team is where they want to be:

"No, no we're not where we want to be, but I think we're going in the right direction. I think I mentioned last week, we are going in the right direction but we got a lot of work to do, and right now we're a long way from where we need to be. But, I think as long as we're in the right direction, we just have to keep working the details and consistency. The thing that we really have to have at the forefront of our minds is cleaning things up."

On the things he is most concerned with:

"Sloppiness, just making sure that when we go out and play that we're not doing silly things, lazy things that cause us to beat ourselves. That's the thing that we can't do. We want to go into the season and really have everybody on the same page and let's go."

On the play clock issues and if those are solely to blame on outside influences:

"All I will say is this, it's the first - we played three preseason games, and it's the first time we had issues with the play clock. The fact that the referee came up to me at half time and said, ‘Mike, you know what, I apologize about the clock. It was way too fast. We'll do a better job managing it during the second half,' I don't know why it took that long to see it because we were talking about it the whole first half, but it was good for us. It made our offense really speed up the process and that could happen down the line, and I think the best thing that could of came out of that was that I felt like we overcame it, I felt like you know the offense was frustrated, I know [QB] Alex Smith was frustrated, the coordinators were frustrated, everybody was frustrated because we just could not seem to get it right. It just felt like the clock was just way too fast, and it was."

On whether LB Travis LaBoy is doing enough on defense to increase his value:

"You know, with Travis LaBoy, he's a work in progress. He was all banged up and beat up when he got here and we're just trying to nurse him back and get him back to having fun being on the field. So, whatever we can get out of him when he's on the field, I think special teams is just going to be one of those things as he gets healthier, he feels better, gets back to being himself, and you know we'll look at the special teams stuff later, and try and create some places for him to be a part. But the value that he does bring when he's on the field makes a big difference."

On whether special teams coordinator Kurt Shotttenheimer will have a lot of influence in picking his special teams players:

"He's going to have a lot of influence. I think for us to get where we need to go, we need to have great special teams, and I can't ask him, I can't challenge him and say, ‘Hey, I want us to have the best special teams in the league,' and not give him a say in what he needs. You know we're both looking at the film, the three of us along with [assistant special teams] Dave Fipp. We're looking at the film, and we're looking at the guys that we need. And it's not a matter of him having a say, it's just following through with is special teams important or not? And it is important, it's going to be very important for us. So yes, he's going to have a tremendous amount of weight when it comes to, you know, there may be five, six, seven slots that he has on there that he has a chance to have influence on."

On whether CB Philip Adams has a strong chance to be the main punt returner:

"I won't say main punt returner, definitely one of them."

On where WR Kyle Williams is as far as his return time:

"We're just continuing to monitor him. He's looking pretty good, but we're just going to continue to go from week to week, and wherever it ends up, we'll just have to look at it then."

On who he would consider to be his number one punt returner:

"I wouldn't say right now. I don't know right now."

On whether he envisions WR Ted Ginn Jr. in that role as the number one punt returner:

"I would envision Ted Ginn as the kickoff guy, not the punt, not for right now, and that could change. So, I don't know."

On whether there is a chance Williams could practice this week:

"Not really."

On whether he expects anyone to come back to practice this week that he hasn't had out there in the recent past:

"[TE] Vernon [Davis] is at a pretty good place right now. He could possibly return sometime this week. I don't know that for sure. I haven't really talked in detail with Fergy [head athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson] about that yet. Anybody else, [LB] Ahmad Brooks is just going to continue to work, hopefully sometime soon we'll get him back but we'll just have to see."

On how WR Michael Crabtree was doing today and if he expects him out there for practice this week:

"How is he doing? Hopefully he's doing a lot better. Yes I do."

On whether he expects to see him play on Thursday:

"I don't know."

On whether Crabtree could have played Saturday if it was a regular season game:

"Yes, I think so."

On whether he has a fairly good idea of who his 53 guys to make the team are:

"I have a decent idea, but there are some things that the game could influence. They're always few things that the game could influence and it's just a matter of in that fourth game, it just depends on what jumps out at you. It's just one of those things that you're just there at the game, and you're thinking this guy may be a candidate for the practice squad. This guy may be a candidate for the 53, you know this guy may be a candidate for the 45, and they do something in that game that tilts it one way or the other. This guy may or may not make the team. So those scenarios that I just went through, they can be answered in that last game."

On whether LB Diyral Briggs is a good example of that:

"He is a very good example of that. He is a very good example of that, yes."

On how T Alex Boone has progressed:

"He's been very steady. He's continued to make good progress. You know, once again, he has a ways to go, but he's working at it, and that's really good to see."

On whether he is a person he envisions seeing in this organization for a while:

"You know what I would like to think that but we just have to wait and see how it all shakes out."

On the Boone's progression from where he was to where he is now:

"Oh it's been very impressive, absolutely."

On what he saw in LaBoy role wise:

"Well, sometimes you just don't know. You just have to give it a shot and that's the thing that we were willing to do and that's the thing that he was willing to do. I just felt like it was a good fit for him to kind of come in and really work at getting back on the field, and doing all the little things that he had to do in order to just get back on the field. And now seeing some of the things that he has been able to do is just a matter of making sure that we don't overdo it, that we don't try to get too much, too quick and just let him continue to grow into a role, depending on what that role is. But, he has to determine that and we just have to monitor that as we go."

On whether NT Aubrayo Franklin will start practicing immediately and whether there is a chance he will play Thursday:

"Yes. For me, I would say I'm not excited about him playing, but there's a chance that he could play a series or so just to get a feel for it, but we're just going to talk about that a little bit more. You know what really makes sense?"

On how he is feeling about his backup quarterbacks and whether he is comfortable with that spot:

"When you say comfortable, I'll put it this way. I feel good about Alex Smith, I feel very good about where he's at. I think we have to do a great job of protecting our starting quarterback. When it comes to [QB] David Carr, I think David Carr is a guy that I could grow to feel comfortable with. I think he's a guy that has a good command of the offense. I think he understands, I just think that he's still thinking a lot and he's still having to get the rhythm and all the other things, but I think David Carr, I could grow to feel comfortable with him."

On the health of T Joe Staley and RB Brian Westbrook:

"They're fine. I mean they're fine. There won't be any issue there."

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