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2009 49ers Training Camp: August 1 AM press conferences

We were able to bring you some updates this morning for the 49ers morning practice.  They have one more practice this afternoon, but in the meantime many of the 49ers met with the press today.  We have the likes of Coach Singletary, Alex Smith, Shaun Hill and Patrick Willis.  Due to the length, I've posted the transcripts after the jump.  However, there are definitely some highlights worth noting.

Singletary on the team as a whole
In looking over Coach Singletary's thoughts, nothing really comes as a surprise.  He looks at the 49ers as a team that is hungry and wants to win, "but they’re not quite sure of the price that has to be paid in order to get it. It’s like a kid who is a little bit naïve about how much something costs. He says, 'Well I want one of those.' And mom and dad may look at him and say, ‘We don’t have enough money for that.’"

I think most of Singletary's more hard core supporters look at this as the area where the coach will improve the team.  They see him as the guy who brings the type of motivation necessary to get his team in the right position to make the necessary sacrifices.  Of course, it comes down to the players to do what it takes.  Mike Singletary spent some time after football, before coaching, as a motivational speaker.  I'm not sure how much I buy into the long term value of motivational speakers.  However, if you do buy into it, it's easy to see why Mike Singletary would be that kind of guy.

Singletary on Alex Smith
I found a couple interesting thoughts from Singletary on Alex Smith.  When Alex Smith threw a single incomplete pass the boo-birds were out in force.  Singletary thought it was good to get some booing in because he thinks Smith needs to learn how to deal with it.  "The most important thing for Alex is to know it is going to happen. He just needs to move forward and keep getting better and overcome those little idiosyncrasies in his mind."  More importantly, when asked if he saw Alex Smith get over those idiosyncrasies today: "I did. I thought I did."  Very interesting.

Head Coach Mike Singletary
Post-Practice – 08-01-09
San Francisco 49ers

On how the first practice went:
"I’m thankful that all the guys are here, but we have a lot of work to do. That’s very evident. It wasn’t bad, but we just have a long way to go. I want to be honest every step of the way, every practice, every drill, everything we do. I want to make sure there is not a false sense of security about where we are. Right now, we’re not very good, but at the end of it, we are going to be where we need to be."

On what he told the players after practice:
"We just have to be better in everything we do.  We can’t waste a drill; we can’t waste a practice. We’re too far behind the elite teams in this league and we have to earn the right to be amongst them. Before we can talk about a championship we have to practice like and think like a championship team, and we’re just not there now."

On what he would like to see improved:
"It’s a number of things. When you begin to talk about being a great team, about being a championship team, there are some things you need that you can’t even explain what they are. You just know it and you just feel it. Right now, that’s not here. We have to earn it to make it come here because it won’t just happen."

On whether the defense seemed ahead of the offense:
"The defense was okay. And yes, you’re exactly right – our offense is always a step behind, but I don’t really buy into that. That is kind of the way it has been all my life. It’s just about coming out here every day with the mindset that we are going to get better every day."

On the nutcracker drill:
"Initially, what we had in the nutcracker, I think we got some good work out of that. The fundamental part of what we’re trying to achieve, I think we took a step today in that area. And we’re going to do that a few times. I just think it’s important we understand contact, but even more importantly, it’s not just coming out here and hitting people. It’s coming out here and learning how to engage and win in a competitive environment. And that’s really what we did in that drill."

On where the team is right now:
"This team to me, right now, is a team that is hungry. It’s a team that wants to win. But they’re not quite sure of the price that has to be paid in order to get it. It’s like a kid who is a little bit naïve about how much something costs. He says, "Well I want one of those." And mom and dad may look at him and say, ‘We don’t have enough money for that.’
The thing I want our guys to understand is we have all the money we need. We can buy anything we want. But we have to be willing to pay the price to get it, and that price, it’s a high one. I think our guys are willing to do that, but I’ll know by mid-training camp."

On what it takes to become a great player:
"I do know what it takes. It’s hard to say, ‘They’ll know it when this happens.’ It’s just like everything else. One day you’ll see it and you’ll feel it and say, ‘That’s it.’ It’s getting better every day. It’s paying attention to the details. It’s doing the small things extraordinarily well. When somebody makes a play and it looks like a great play, that should be routine. It’s knowing the difference between good and great. There is a thin line between the two, and it is finding that. Those are just some of the things."

On evaluating the quarterbacks:
"The way we functioned (at quarterback) today, that’s just one thing. There are too many other things that are wrong. Before you can evaluate the quarterback, you have to make sure it is the quarterback that is the issue. Today there were just too many other things wrong, and it makes it difficult to evaluate the quarterback when so many other things are wrong. In order to get a fair assessment of who that guy is, we need to get all other things equal. The receivers are running their routes as fast and hard as they possibly can, and catching the ball when it’s in their area. Our offensive linemen are continuing to communicate with each other. Our running backs are picking up the guys they need to pick up on the blitzes. All those little things we have to do consistently before we can even look at the quarterback and say, ‘Okay this guy is going to give us a better chance of winning than that guy.’"

On the crowd jeering Alex Smith:
"I think it’s outstanding because Alex needs to learn how to deal with it. The fans, that’s what they are here for, that’s what they do. They are fans. The most important thing for Alex is to know it is going to happen. He just needs to move forward and keep getting better and overcome those little idiosyncrasies in his mind."

On whether he saw Alex Smith get over those idiosyncrasies today:
"I did. I thought I did."

On who is the leading candidate to start at quarterback:
"It doesn’t matter where we are today. I want to find the guy who is going to lead this team. Right now, I’m not seeing that guy. If you ask me to pick one of them now, I’m guessing. I don’t want to guess. I’ll say it is this guy today, but tomorrow it might be that other guy, and I don’t want to do that. I want those guys to compete on a level ground, and at some point in time, one guy will be better than the other and we’ll know that is the guy. That is when I will answer that quarterback question. Answering it now, to me, doesn’t make sense. It’s not going to be effective either way if I had to pick one today."

On today opening drill, the nutcracker, vs. the Oklahoma drill:
"On the Oklahoma drill, when a defensive guy gets up there, even if he’s not very good, he can just out-quick a guy and slap him to the side. It looks great, but when you’re up there and you’re playing against a line that’s not going to happen. You have go through the guy. I want the guys that are going to stand with a base underneath them, be fundamentally sound and take their man back to the quarterback, or the guy is going to take them into the defensive backfield. That’s what I’m looking for. I’m not looking for any dodging, any turning, any jumping around. I want you to go straight through the guy. And that is what we are trying to achieve. It is fundamentals. It is leverage and moving your feet. That gets tiring, but in a game, in the fourth quarter, the fundamentals always come back. And the team which is most fundamentally sound is going to win at the end."

On who stood out to him:
"I’m not really looking on who is on defense or offense. I’m just trying to get 53 guys that will get up there consistently and do it. We had some guys who did okay, but today they were more or less understanding the drills."

On when Moran Norris will be in camp:
"Whenever his personal business is done. I told him he has to do what he has to do. I know he wants to be here. We’ll stay in contact and when he’s done with that he will be here."

On whether Josh Morgan could emerge as the top receiver:
"Josh has a lot of potential. We have a lot of confidence in him. It is just a matter of Josh continuing to get better. Does he have the potential? Absolutely. But a guy like Isaac Bruce isn’t around a long time for nothing. He knows what he is doing. He knows the workout routine he has to have. He knows how to be effective. He knows the routes. So, I think time is one of the things that will answer that question."

On Michael Crabtree:
"There is nothing new. That is one of those things, as I said before, whoever is out here is who I am going to focus on. When that happens (he signs), I’ll be excited about it. But I’m not wondering when it is going to happen. I want the guys out here to make sure we’re ready. The most important thing I can do is make team understand that one guy coming in will not make the whole picture different. We just need to make sure we are getting better every day. I’m excited we have him, I know we want to have him and when the time is right, he’ll be here."

QB Shaun Hill
Post-Practice – 08-01-09
San Francisco 49ers

On if he feels the pressure of being the first quarterback to get the reps with the No. 1 offense:
"No, not at all. Just going out there with the No. 1 group, there’s no added pressure with that at all. It doesn’t really matter what group we are with out there. We are still evaluated on every play, so I didn’t read into that at all."

On whether the fans getting into the action helps:
"Yes, you know it’s funny. You are out there and you are focused and everything like that, but you can’t help but hear the fans, especially as loud as they were today. They were excited out there. They are so close to the field out here. It’s such a good experience for the fans, the way we set up practice. They are right there in the action. The balls come flying at them, things like that. So yeah it was exciting out there to feel all that energy from them."

On whether he got a chance to watch the nutcracker drill:
"No, we were over there doing our own drills. No, I didn’t get to watch at all, so I imagine there was some good footage over there."

On what he wants to accomplish this training camp:
"Really, there’s nothing different that I want to accomplish than in previous years. I want to get better every day. I want to go out there and compete every day and see where everything falls in the end. I keep hearing, ‘It’s yours to lose, it’s yours to lose.’ I’ve been taking the approach it’s mine to take. So that’s kind of the difference coming in fighting for a third string spot and fighting for a starting spot. I’ve never really put it together until recently, but I think that’s the difference and that’s why Coach Singletary hasn’t made the decision yet.  No one has took it and no one has grabbed it. So that’s my goal right now."

On how this situation is different than previous training camps when he came in without a job:
"When you are coming in fighting for a third spot, you are coming in just trying to improve every day and be there in the end. In this scenario I’m trying to improve every day and take that top spot."

On whether he felt is was an off practice because of everything that was going on today:
"Yes, definitely. There were some plays where there wasn’t anything there. There were some plays where us quarterbacks maybe held onto the ball too long or didn’t make the right decision. So yes, there was a little bit of everything. It was pretty difficult to get a great read on it and that goes with most any practice, to be honest with you. Once you put that film on, that’s when you really get to see the mistakes and see the good things."

On whether he sees a particular receiver emerging this spring and starting one day too:
"We are so fortunate to have such depth at the receiver position. We have seven, eight, nine guys that can legitimately line up there as a starter and go and play and the quarterbacks would feel completely confident in them. It’s a good problem to have for sure and something we haven’t had, at least since I’ve been here, but we are so talented and deep at receiver and we are very fortunate to have that, for sure."

On how he sees Josh Morgan emerging in particular:
"Josh has come a long way since he got here. Obviously, the guy has unbelievable talent, extremely strong and I expect big things out of him and I know he expects the same out of himself. He’s such a hard worker and a good kid, a good young man I should say. I can’t say enough good things about him. Usually, whenever a receiver has a good work ethic, a good attitude and all that talent, something really good is going to happen for him."

On whether there was a different feeling this camp with the extra time they had before the first practice and with Coach Singletary:
"To be honest with you, Coach Singletary was the exact same he was during OTAs, during minicamps and things like that. So no, I didn’t feel anything different from him in particular. I feel like every day we are together, our team does become a little bit more cohesive, without a doubt and a lot of things that we’ve done in the offseason have built towards that. Soo from Coach Singletary, I did not feel a difference from OTAs to today, but as a cohesive team, you can really start to feel this team coming together, without a doubt."

On whether he spoke to the team on Friday:
"Yes he did. I’m not going to go into too much about what went on, but yes absolutely, it was a great team day and I’ll just kind of leave it at that."

On the theme of the speech:
"Just team. Just team."

On what ‘his job to take’ means in his mind:
"I have to do something and it’s not doing anything outside of myself. It’s playing within myself. Something has to click to where it looks like when I’m in there, I’m the best guy that needs to be in there and it’s going to be a collective deal. The whole offense will click all at once and it will be noticeable whenever he makes a decision."

On whether his mindset is that he expects to be the starter:
"Yes absolutely, that’s what I’ve spent this whole offseason expecting. Alex [Smith] would say the same thing. Those are our goals and our expectations. Yes, without a doubt."

QB Alex Smith
Press Conference- Training Camp – 08-01-09
San Francisco 49ers

On what he thought of the first session of training camp:
"It was practice, but it definitely could have been better. I’ll say that. I think, probably looking back, that’s every first practice, but [there’s a] long way to go."

On what’s it like to hear boos from fans at training camp:
"It’s funny because on a completion it was like ‘ahh!’ (cheers), everyone out there yelling and then you throw the ball away and get one knocked down or something and then the boo–birds came out. That’s fine, it’s part of the deal. It’s part of playing quarterback in the NFL.  But there are some good things that come with it; you come out here and there’s a lot of energy too."

On whether the fan reactions are beneficial during training camp:
"Absolutely, because I think that it’s going to be there come game day. I think that we were kidding ourselves thinking you’re going to go out there and you’re not going to hear boos and you’re not going to hear cheers. You’re going to be faced with that. You’re going to have bad plays out there. You’re going to go a couple of quarters when you’re not playing well and you’ve got to be able to come back and I think that’s a very real environment. That’s how it’s going to be on game day so I would agree with that."

On whether the reaction of the fans took him by surprise at all:
"Well you know, eight in the morning out here, I wasn’t sure how many people would show up this morning. I kind of expected more this afternoon. The great thing about camp is having the fans out here. So often we practice out here with no one but the cameras, so it’s kind of nice. It’s a nice change."

On how hard was to evaluate the receivers play in the early morning session:
"Yes, I would say that definitely. I think that when you look at all the units and we’re not on the same page. I think that when we were you could see the result and when we weren’t, you could see the result. We kind of agree with that, quarterbacks, receivers, defensive line there are some many little details that go into being together and cohesive."

On what he thinks of this year’s possible receiving corps:
I think that we have a great group, I do. I think there is a ton of depth out there with those guys and I think there are going to be some battles. It’ll be interesting to see what’s going to happen. I’m excited about it."

On Shaun Hill’s quote that the quarterback job is "his job to take":
"I would agree. It’s kind of like the difference of going out there and not trying to screw up versus going out there and trying to make the play. I think it’s a different mindset. I’ve had both, and I can honestly say looking back my rookie year and some years after that, you try to fight to go out there and be perfect. The mentality of going out there and trying to be perfect and not screwing up that’s a bad mindset to have as a quarterback or as a football player. I think that you have to go out there and try to make plays and win the job. That’s the mindset that I try to have."

On comparing the last two seasons of his shoulder injury:
"You know as far as the first day of how I felt compared to last year is not close on just how comfortable I felt with my shoulder. I can honestly say that I went out there today and really felt as if I didn’t notice a thing and you know I haven’t even had the pads on in a year so it felt really good with the shoulder. Last year it felt as if I was still trying to work things out at this point so I felt good."

On what coach Singletary addressed to him in the team huddle between practice periods:
"There are so many things going between periods like that and there are mix-ups. Like I said, I think that the whole thing is that we’re all on different pages. There are a lot of times when receivers are adjusting routes to what they see and we have to know – we have to be seeing the same thing and reacting to it the same way. Sometimes if we don’t see it and throw a ball in a direction where they’re not or we hold on to the ball, those types of things are the fine line of being successful or not. That’s what he was talking about when he pulled us up: getting the ball out on time versus holding on and waiting to see what they do. A good passing attack on passing teams see things at the same time and anticipate them.  The ball comes out – you throw it before the receiver even makes his move and he’s seeing the same thing and doing the same thing at the same time that you are. That’s what we were talking about."

On how he is mentally preparing for this training camp with regards to his shoulder:
"It’s one of those things that the more I play, the more I go, the better it’s going to get. I’m sure that once I get in a game and get hit a few times that too will be another [aspect] that comes with it. But, the more that I’m out here throwing the better it’s going to get. "

Patrick Willis
Post-Practice – 08-01-09
San Francisco 49ers

On going against Michael Robinson:
"It’s always good to go against Mike. Mike is one of the guys you know every time you go against him he is going to give you his best.  That’s what you want if you want to get better."

On whether he chose to go against Robinson:
"We did at times. At first I was going with (Brit) Miller, and he is a pretty good guy. But I like to switch it up. You get complacent if you go at the same guy every time, and that is just not fun."

On what he got out of one-on-ones:
"There is just a mindset Coach Sing wanted us to get out of that. Not only is it about being tough, but it’s about the mindset he wants our team to have – and that is we are going to go through people. No matter who stands in our way, we are going to go through them. That drill helps with that mentality."

On why he leads stretching:
"I always kind of lead the stretches. That is something Coach wanted us to do last year when he took over. He wanted the leaders to get up there and start it off. That is something we have been doing since the day he took over."

On his leadership abilities:
"It is something I have to work on every day. It is a challenge to make sure I am doing things that are necessary for me to be able to lead these guys. I can’t come out here and half-go, and not practice, and not do my job and then expect other guys to want to follow me, and work the way I work and do the things I do."

On when he acts like a leader:
"I just do it whenever the time calls for it. I’m not one of the people who says something every play just to hear myself speak. I feel there is a time and place for everything. When something is not right, I feel it is my duty to speak as one of the captains. When things are going well, I like saying, ‘Good job offense. Good job defense. Good job special teams.’ You just pick your moments when you speak. You don’t speak just to hear yourself talk."

On Singletary treating him as a leader:
"Having Coach Sing for the last three years, with the Senior Bowl then the last two years, I’m kind of a molded image of him, as far as what he wants and how he wants me to play. A head coach’s job is not always to speak up when things are going wrong or always speak when things are going well. His job is to do what he does and that is make sure things are going well and sit back and let guys be professional and take care of themselves. When we don’t do that, then he has to speak. That is one of the things I feel as captains that we have to do, speak up when things are not going well instead of just going through the motions."

On where the defense is right now:
"We know where we need to be. We made some good plays, but when we go watch film, we will see a lot of areas where we need to get better and work on. We’re real far away from where we need to be right now, but we’re going to get there. We are going to continue to work every day and do the things that are necessary to get better."

On what Singletary told the team before training camp:
"It is the same thing he told you all. What he tells you is what he tells us. He just talked about having a mindset, the way we are going to go about things and the way we are going to do them. It is no different from what he tells you."