The 49ers had their normal Thursday practice session and I believe will be heading out to Philly tomorrow. In the meantime, the practice reports would seem to indicate that Joe Staley will be back in his spot at left tackle on Sunday against the Eagles. Barry Sims banged up his knee on Monday and has been out since then (even though today is technically the only practice of the week). With Sims looking likely to be on the shelf on Sunday, the return of Staley turns into a pretty important storyline. The team has done a solid job keeping Alex Smith on his feet, and a nice chunk of that has been due to the impressive play of Barry Sims off the bench. The question now is how injecting Staley into the lineup might affect that.
Out (Definitely Will Not Play)
Did not Participate in Practice
WR Isaac Bruce (ankle)
T Barry Sims (knee)
TE Delanie Walker (ankle)
Limited Participation in Practice
LB Takeo Spikes (hamstring)
Full Participation in Practice
LB Ahmad Brooks (foot)
S Dashon Goldson (chest)
RB Frank Gore (toe)
CB Marcus Hudson (back)
RB Moran Norris (toe)
RB Michael Robinson (shoulder)
T Joe Staley (knee)
Did not Participate in Practice
WR Jeremy Maclin (foot)
Full Participation in Practice
DE Victor Abiamiri (knee)
WR Jason Avant (hamstring)
C Nick Cole (knee)
DE Trent Cole (hamstring)
WR Kevin Curtis (knee)
LB Akeem Jordan (knee)
DT Mike Patterson (wrist)
RB Leonard Weaver (hamstring)
After the jump check out OC Jimmy Raye and DC Greg Manusky's transcripts from after practice today.
Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky
Post-Walk Thru - December 17, 2009
San Francisco 49ers
On the Eagles use of screen passes:
"I think with the athletes that they have across the board with the wide receivers and the running backs, it is part of their game and we have to play the call and defeat blocks and feel the screen and get to them."
On why the team has struggled against the screen this year:
"Maybe situations, also the linemen have to feel it. I think the screen game is a team thing from a defensive standpoint where you have to hustle to the ball and make plays. That is what we have to try to focus on and get it done in practice."
On defending WR DeSean Jackson:
"You just have to make sure you have somebody on top of him. He has great speed, a vertical threat. He catches the ball very well and the quarterback throws to him. Basically, that is what you have to do."
On what he meant by "have somebody on top of him":
"Have a safety on top of him."
On S Dashon Goldson's range:
"He has some range. That's why we drafted him where we did. He did a good job last week making plays on the deep balls and also coming up and filling in in the run game. He has had some good games in the last couple of weeks, so that's good."
On CB Shawntae Spencer's season:
"That's why we made our decision early on after camp was over to make him the starter. At first we were a little bit tentative because we didn't know where he would be, but it has worked out for us with him coming back from that injury."
On Spencer's speed now compared to before his injury:
"Like I said during training camp, he is very clean. He had a clean training camp and he has been playing well the last couple of weeks. That's what he is."
On whether this is Spencer's best season:
"So far, yeah. I think so for the years I have been around. I don't know about the years prior to when I was here, but he is playing very consistent and steady football, which we like."
On whether Spencer is a leader in the secondary:
"I think all those guys take the lead. Shawntae does his job and he does it well. He is a professional at it and it is good to see that things are working out for him."
On whether Spencer has stepped up more since CB Nate Clements became injured:
"Yeah, he goes out there and does his job. He's not a big talker, at least I don't hear him out on the field talking. He matches up against some good wide receivers and he goes out there and plays week-in and week-out and he has had a fine season thus far."
On whether LB Ahmad Brooks has Lawrence Taylor-type ability:
"He has ability. I played against LT, never offensively, but he had some moves. Ahmad is a good, talented player. He has a lot of physical talent, and if we can just hone those skills like we did last week and keep getting better each and every game and each and every practice, the sky is the limit for the guy."
On why he moved Brooks to the outside linebacker position:
"I think during training camp and OTAs, particularly last year during the season and stuff, his ability to come off the edge and rush in the scout team stuff and against our tackles we saw something there. We made the decision this past offseason to move him strictly to that position and it has benefitted him."
On what Brooks needs to become an every-down player:
"Reps. That is the most important thing, seeing the picture over and over and over again. For players that haven't played outside or played inside and are trying to make that conversion at times is hard. For him, it is always a process. Even for guys coming out of college who are defensive linemen who get to stand up and pass rush, it takes them a little bit of time to figure it out and the body leans and everything and get those pass-sets and feel where the set-point is. His progress is good."
On what he meant by "body lean":
"Feeling the offensive body lean, if he is over-set and you are under-set."
On the hostile environment in Philadelphia:
"We have to play the game. We get paid to play, and same thing with the players, they have to go out there and perform. Even though we are going back east, there are always obstacles and things in your way, I think we just have to keep on focusing on us and just play the game."
On whether this is the most diverse offense he has faced this year:
"Yeah, they have some different people that they put in in different packages. We will have a plan for them."
On why the turnovers have come in bunches this year:
"It is kind of like a feeding frenzy sometimes. When one guy gets one you feel... I remember when I played when I used to get one, it just kind of builds on itself. I think that is what happens, so hopefully we will get one early in Philly."
Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye
Post-Walk Thru - December 17, 2009
San Francisco 49ers
On the difference between QB Alex Smith dropping back and being in the shotgun:
"I think we're over-analyzing this thing way, way, way too - we're just playing football. We're just playing football. This isn't an exact science, and Alex's progress has been very good from the time that I arrived here back in February and to the time he's been able to get on the field and play. The problem, I guess, that I have with qualifying that is I don't have the previous history that you all observed from before. I didn't go study that and don't know the nuances of what took place, but he has been effective under, as he was in Houston, threw three touchdown passes in the second half of that game, and he's been effective from the gun. But, as it goes forward, the mixture of that as the offense finds its level of consistency repetitively, I think the way he's playing and the way the people around him are playing and the continuity continues, I think that will be a good fit."
On whether he's seen enough of Smith to determine if he's the 49ers starter for 2010:
"When you say ‘our,' are you including me? I think you can only judge that by how he has played to this point, and if he continues to win games, which I think he will, and I think he will continue to improve as he gets more familiar with playing the game itself within the constraints of the offense. I would think, for this organization, that he would be their quarterback in 2010, yes."
On whether he is planning on coming back in 2010:
"I don't think that question was about me. I think it was about Alex Smith in 2010."
On whether he's planning on being a part of the decision making process for Smith in 2010:
On whether the type of run-pass ratio from Monday Night Football is the type of balance he was hoping for:
"In terms of the quantity of run selection and pass selection it was, if you take the last three kneel downs out of it. I would like to lean a little bit - I think the balance would not be 50-50. I'd like to lean a little bit more toward the pass. I think we're in pretty good shape when we're in the plus 28-, 32-run category - when we get to that point. The numbers favor us if we're in the plus 28-32 run ratio to pass attempts. I think that favors us, and if we take care of the ball in that process, I think it breeds very well for us."
On whether the range was 28-32 runs:
On the desire to run 60 percent of the time at the start of the season and now looking for 60 percent pass:
"You've got to understand, guys, that when we started we had a different group of people than when we started. To me the balance, the 65-35, or the 60-40 balance is where you'd like to be, and with the change in quarterback and the addition of [WR Michael] Crabtree and the emergence of [TE Vernon] Davis and the development of [WR] Josh Morgan, I think it tilts the scale just a little bit the other way. That is the proportion of balance that you're striving for, and if it happens to be 60-40 run, I think that would be OK. If it happened to be 60-40 pass, ideally 65, if it was 55-45, those numbers would be in an ideal situation, though I don't think, other than last week, that would be possible to achieve on a weekly basis based on the defense that you play."
On whether the flexibility in offensive styles is a benefit because defenses must prepare for various looks:
"If it causes the defenses that we're going to play more preparation time because of all of the packages that we're in and the problems that we present, then it's a real benefit to us, provided we're efficient in them. We've done a pretty good job in 11 personnel, 12 personnel, and as we've gone forward, 22 group has kind of moved ahead of the 21 group - but that has been dictated by the defense that we're playing. All of the things that we have available to us in those personnel groups means that it's something they can't hone in on and get really specifically good at, so that's a positive for offense and allows us to stay in attack mode."
On his personnel group philosophy on first and second down:
"I don't know the reference to last year, what that means. We would like, from the quarterback standpoint, the feeling as we practice and prepare the plan, the feeling of being able to put him in the things in that particular package that have run-down and pass-down features to it, without people running in and out of the huddle constantly helps him settle and anticipate the call of what we practiced and what we anticipate seeing by down and distance, and hopefully, those things are fluid enough that we can do them as well out of 11 as out of 12 or 22 and 21. The thing that has been a little bit what you haven't seen and the thing that has hurt us a little bit in terms of being able to do that and maintain the fluidity of that is we lost [RB] Michael Robinson, who is kind of a back hybrid like [TE] Delanie Walker is a tight end hybrid guy. We haven't had that available to us because of injury, but that allows you - the 21 package - to be as fluid as the other packages if he's available because he has pass receiving skill, run blocking skills and can line up in the backfield. So, the personnel groups that we play through and out of, as I said way back early on in the spring, is that you'd like to have offensively the things that you're doing by the people in the game, the ability for the personnel on the group and the plays to be able to take care of the contingencies of the defense, and then they have to defend all of those things and matchup the personnel that's in the game. That would be ideal. It doesn't happen very much, but that's ideally what you're looking for."
On whether the QB Alex Smith's hard count is a part of the offense:
"That's a big part of the offense. We practice that. It got us there in the end on the one play in the four-minute deal where the right tackle hitched. It is a part of what we do, the cadence and when we start it. We have mandatory cadence sessions in practices where we use the hard count and we have the clown cadence. I don't want to tell everything that we do to the people that we play, but that is a part of what we do."
On FB Moran Norris' strong play on Monday night gives him more confidence to go with the 22 package:
"Yes it does, he played well. The 22 is a little bit heavier package, so he plays the same position in 21. But, 22 is a little bit heavier package. We think of it as a little bit heavier of a package. The thing you have to understand is that [RB] Frank [Gore], the runner has a real feeling of security when [No.] 44 is in the game as a lead blocker, different than some of the other personnel groups that we have. When he plays well, that helps all of us, in particular the guy that is important is that it helps [No.] 21."