Since the game is a day later than normal we're rolling out the injury reports a day later. Nothing huge here, other than Joe Staley getting back to some limited practice. He's still hoping to play on Monday, so we'll see how his practice reps play out. I've posted Mike Singletary and Alex Smith's post-practice press transcripts after the jump. In his intro, Singletary addressed Frank Gore's contributions to the offense going forward, and had several comments about the secondary given the Cardinals impressive receiver trio.
Out (Definitely Will Not Play)
CB Nate Clements (shoulder)
Did not Participate in Practice
WR Isaac Bruce (ankle)
DT Justin Smith (not injury related)
LB Takeo Spikes (hamstring)
Limited Participation in Practice
SS Michael Lewis (quadricep)
OT Joe Staley (knee)
Full Participation in Practice
WR Brandon Jones (thumb)
Out (Definitely Will Not Play
LB Will Davis (knee)
Did not Participate in Practice
RB Jason Wright (illness)
Limited Participation in Practice
DT Alan Branch (ankle)
P Ben Graham (left groin)
RB Tim Hightower (thumb)
DE Kenny Iwebema (thumb)
RB Dan Kreider (thigh)
K Neil Rackers (right groin)
TE Stephen Spach (knee)
Full Participation in Practice
OT Mike Gandy (pelvis)
Coach Singletary and Alex Smith press conference transcripts after the jump...
Head Coach Mike Singletary
Post-Walk Thru - December 10, 2009
San Francisco 49ers
"Good morning. I'll talk about injuries here, try to get that clear. Of course you know, [DT] Kentwan Balmer had surgery yesterday - just basically repaired a torn labrum. [CB Marcus] Hudson, back is a little sore. That will be day-to-day. [CB Nate] Clements, shoulder, is out. [LT Joe] Staley will practice today only in the individual period - just kind of bring him back slowly and see how it goes from day-to-day, and we'll go from there. The other day, just in case anybody asks a question about the officials and all that other stuff, in my mind, Seattle's done. I'm done with them. I'm done with the officials. I'm done with all that stuff. I've said what I said. I stand by what I said, but I move forward, on to Arizona, and that's what I'm going to talk about for the rest of the time.
When I look at our defense, the thing that we have to do this week in order to be successful is we have to be able to put pressure on [QB Kurt] Warner. We have to be able to make him move. He can't sit back there and just throw the ball to his receivers. On the other side of that, our DBs have to make sure that we're physical with their wide outs. We have to get our hands on those receivers to allow our guys time to get there. When they have great success, the quarterback is just able to drop back in 7-on-7, as we do out here, and just throw the ball to receivers. It's all timing, and Kurt Warner is a really bright guy, really smart. He knows where those receivers are going to be. He has the confidence in them. They have a good rapport, and those receivers do a good job of getting open, and he does a great job of throwing to them open. So, for us, we just really have to focus on making sure that we do those two things.
On the other side of it, some of the changes that I've seen in their offense since the last time we played them, they're really trying to focus more on a balanced attack. They're not there yet, but they're trying to focus more on a balanced attack. Both of those running backs are running hard. They're running downhill and they're doing a good job being physical, finishing their runs. I think that's where they are right now as an offense.
For us offensively, we continue to run the offense that we've been running the last couple of weeks and try to include [RB] Frank [Gore] going forward to create balance for us. Maybe that balance doesn't mean 50-50. Maybe it's 35-65, whatever it might be. 70-30 or whatever. But, we're going to go forward with it and continue to have [QB] Alex Smith do the things that he's been doing, trying to continue to get the timing of the receivers down, getting a rhythm for our offense, finding out what is the right balance, finding out - and we really won't know what that is until we get into the game and find out how Arizona plans to attack what we're doing. The first time we played them, their front really put a lot of pressure on our guys, particularly the three-technique, No. 90 [Darnell Dockett]. He got off the ball and really applied a lot of pressure. I think the rapport between [RG] Chilo [Rachal] and [RT Adam] Snyder is better. Hopefully, this time around we do a better job. I just think it's important for us across the board on the offensive line of scrimmage to really communicate well, and we're at home, so the noise will not be a factor. Let's get out there and do a better job and do the best we can to control their front."
On who has the role of stopping WR Larry Fitzgerald this week:
"It may be [CB] Dre' Bly. It may be [CB] Shawntae Spencer. We'll figure it out before game time, and, you're right, [CB] Nate [Clements] has done a great job anytime we've played Arizona. But, I think it's important to see our guys step up, whoever is on him, whether it's Fitzgerald, whether it's [WR Anquan] Boldin, and get our hands on them, do a good job and let's see if we can control what they do."
On whether he thinks the 49ers cornerbacks have the ability to play the press coverage and be physical:
"I think the last couple of weeks we've done more man coverage. I think we've done more in challenging the receivers since the Green Bay game. I don't think they've played off as much. Do you mean the last couple of weeks as well?"
On the press coverage in the Green Bay game:
"OK. I think our guys are better at pressing than they are at playing off. I think the last couple of weeks, I think have shown that. We'll continue to do the things that I think will help us be successful in the game, and really, we have to mix it up. You can't get up there and put your hands on them all the time. We just have to make sure that in the game, at those times we feel we can do it, we've got to get up there when we're up there and do a good job."
On whether Bly or Spencer can play that type of coverage:
"They have to. It's not a matter of can they do it. They have to because if we don't, we'll get run out of the stadium. We have to get up there. Any team that does not play physical on their receivers and not get their hands on the receivers will not be successful winning the football game. So, we have to."
On what he saw on film from Arizona last week disrupting Minnesota QB Brett Favre:
"I think for Arizona, I think they really did a good job scheming and blitzing Brett Favre. I think they did a good job at times of just really mixing up the coverage, being disciplined in their coverage and making Brett Favre work a little bit more, realizing he is a veteran-type guy. They just got after him. I think the other thing is they really controlled the running game pretty early and made Brett Favre a little more predictable."
On whether he has to redefine the goals for the team for the final quarter of the season:
"I think the goal that I had for our team at the very beginning of the season was to be the best team, at this time of year, that we could possibly be. I think, in terms of redefining the goal, in my mind it's not over until it's over. So, we're going to go out Monday night, and as far as the playoff hopes, yes, it's very frustrating where that is. It's nobody's fault but ours. For our guys, it's just a matter of going out there Monday night and let's just play the best game that we can play. We're not going to sit back and, ‘If we win, if we lose.' No. We're going to go out, and we're going to play. So, for me this time of year, the most important thing is we're playing our best football, and that's really what I want to strive to do before the season is over."
On whether he's close to doing that:
"I think we're better. I think the closest we came to it was the Jacksonville game, and I think last week we took a step backwards simply because of the penalties, simply because of the turnovers. That's something that we have to do a better job at. This time of year, really any time of the year, the thing that I really want to strive for our team to be, is a smart football team and a team that does not turn the ball over, and we didn't accomplish that last week. Hopefully, the next four games, starting this Monday night, we can reestablish that, what we came out of Jacksonville with, and go forward with that."
On how many of the drops from last week he holds the receivers responsible for:
"Because this is the professional level, I think any time that a ball is in the area of a receiver, he needs to catch it. Hopefully that answered your question."
On whether the Seahawks going away from CB Shawntae Spencer's side was a sign of respect:
"I don't really know. If it's respect, it's great. If they felt they could go at Dre' Bly more because of [WR T.J.] Houshmandzadeh, that matchup - if they felt they could get more over there. I thought Dre' held his own pretty well. I think Shawntae has done a pretty decent job all year, and, hopefully we can finish that way."
On whether the best defense against Arizona's offense is to keep them on the sidelines:
"I think the biggest thing for our offense is to go out and execute. I think if we just execute, whether we're passing the ball, whether we're running the ball, I think we'll be fine in this game. Certainly, we want to continue to move the chains. Certainly, we would like to keep their offense on the sideline. But, I just think the biggest word this week for us is execution, on both sides of the ball."
On whether the fact that Arizona can clinch the division with a win is a part of the talking points this week:
"No, the only thing I'm talking to our team about is winning. It's not about all the other stuff. They can clinch, they can - no. We're just going to go out and do the very best job we can of winning the football game."
QB Alex Smith
Post-Walk Thru - December 10, 2009
San Francisco 49ers
On the offense using more ball control as a game plan against Arizona:
"Absolutely, I think that ball control comes in many different forms. I don't think that it necessarily means grinding it in on the run. I think that ball control is about moving the chains, so whatever way you can get that done, getting first downs run or pass, that's what is going to keep the opposing offense off of the field."
On the teams poor third down completion percentage in last week's game at Seattle:
"There's probably not just one thing, it's probably a lot of things, lack of execution. We did put ourselves in some difficult third downs at times. In a few of those backed-up situations, you're kind of limited on third down as well. It was probably a number of things to why that statistic ended up coming out like that."
On whether the third down statistic got his attention when looking at the stat sheet at the end of the game:
"That jumped out at me, absolutely. In fact, I didn't even necessarily get that impression out there on the field. I guess I really had no idea. It felt like we were moving the ball well at times. I know that we struggled there a little bit in the third quarter, but didn't realize that it was that bad."
On looking to prove critics wrong from his last Monday night game at Seattle in 2007:
"To tell you the truth, I haven't really thought about it. Every week is such a big week in the NFL. The fact that, all of a sudden, this one is a little different in the sense that this one will be played on Monday, so the weeks change. But other than that, I haven't put much thought into it. We played a couple of weeks ago on Thursday night, and we already had a taste of the national TV spotlight so to speak. We're just trying to go out there and play good football."
On his past issues concerning his throwing fundamentals and how he has improved since then:
"I think that there were a lot of things going on at that time. I think that there was a lot of compensation going on throughout that whole process and the weeks leading up to that with me. So, absolutely, I guess that looking back, there probably was a lot fundamentally that wasn't right, but I didn't necessarily go back and study it or anything. I think moving on from there, it was a matter of getting healthy and getting right. I imagine looking back that it wasn't right, you start to compensate, so you start to adjust, and things change."
On working with different QB coaches throughout his career:
"You start there from building your fundamentals and when you take a chunk of time off from throwing and you come back in a controlled environment and come out here on the practice field and get to really start from scratch and you get to build those fundamentals and basically start over from there."
On whether his fundamentals are where he wants them to be at this point:
"I'm getting there. I think I've definitely improved in some areas. You're never finished with it. It's one of those things you're constantly working on. Either they're improving or they are getting worse. It's one of those types of things, you constantly have to work on and harp on it to keep those fundamentals where you want them."
On whether he considers himself a different player than before his injury:
"Yes, absolutely - I'm the same player but there's been a lot of growth and change since then. I've learned a lot, I've been through a lot. I think I see the game better. A lot of things that we've talked about, I feel like I react better. I have improved in a lot of areas out there."
On finally finding somewhat of a groove and tempo to his game:
"Yes, I think so. I really felt that I was heading in that direction a couple of years back and yes, got sidetracked and in a roundabout way to where I am now. I definitely am seeing things the best that I have ever seen them, reacting to them, understanding what I am getting, what it is that we're trying to do, all of those things that go into playing quarterback and decision making. This is probably the best that I've felt."
On whether production is what it really comes down to:
"Yes it is, and that's something that you want to look at, productivity and statistics, but at the same time, you're not living in the statistical world either. In the end, it's about going out there, playing football and trying to win a game. I think if you get caught up in the stats too much, it can actually be harmful."
On facing Arizona's defense for the second time this season and the concerns:
"They're pretty solid all the way around, I think. They have a lot of good players across the board. The thing I see on film is that they play tremendously fast. They give a lot of different looks in the secondary. They disguise well. I think they are very solid up front. They get off the ball and I think both corners are playing pretty well right now. I think they are a good test for us. I think they're going to challenge us and we'll have to challenge them as well."
On the team's concern of Arizona winning the NFC West with a win on Monday night:
"At this point, it's a must win anyway, so it doesn't really change anything. I guess that comes secondary to the fact that we've got to win the game."
On how a quarterback builds in a game when throws are dropped:
"I try not to get into it. I try not to think about it. Those are things outside of your control. That's one thing
you learn over the years. It does no good, especially during game situations, to really worry about things like that. Do your job to the best of your ability. Go out there and try to execute it. Give your team a chance to win, give us a chance to score some points. Those things are going to happen, dropped balls are going to happen just like errant passes are going to happen. You try to minimize them as much as possible."
On whether he is aware of how he reacts to a dropped pass:
"I guess sometimes you don't always realize what you might do, but as a quarterback, obviously, you are always trying to keep good body language out on the field."
On the offense scheme changing throughout the season and similarities to Arizona's offense:
"I don't know, I guess I haven't had time to really compare. I think that if you looked at the run-pass ratio the last couple of weeks, teams might say that. But I think we're striving to be unique in our own way. I think, and I go back to this it really needs to be balanced to do what it takes to win, do what it takes to score points, to be productive."
On saying anything to the WR on the sideline after dropping a pass:
"If I say anything at all, it's encouragement. Those guys have enough to think about. They make plays and catch balls sometimes that shouldn't be caught so, I know they're working at it and they don't need to hear anything from me, as far as catching the football. They know, we're all professionals, they know when they made a mistake or should have made a play."
On why TE Vernon Davis has become a more productive tight end this year and how vital he is to the offense:
"I think time is probably a good answer. He's had time to grow and understand and develop his game and he's worked hard at it. Over the course of that time, as he's made plays, you get more and more confident ok about what he can and can't do. I think right now, he's playing really well, playing fast, making a lot of plays for us. I think you gain that confidence by doing it, and that does take time."
On whether the only way the team can achieve balance is by forcing the defense to go into nickel:
"Potentially, it's the same the other way. If you're running the ball, and you're heavy run, you're running enough to get them to overload the box, you can throw the ball. It's either way, and it changes over the course of the game depending on the situation, third down, red zone - all of those types of things constantly change over the course of the game. It's a give and take, absolutely of what you're doing."