Mike Singletary had just started his weekly press conference when cornerback Dre’ Bly entered the room. He then issued a public apology for celebrating – a la Deion Sanders – when he was still 75 yards from the end zone.
Also, today, the 49ers informed return specialist Allen Rossum of his release. The 49ers needed to clear a roster spot to activate rookie receiver Michael Crabtree to the 49ers’ 53-man roster.
Linebacker Jeff Ulbrich is scheduled to undergo tests from a Stanford neurologist on Wednesday after sitting out Sunday’s game with a concussion. Ulbrich said he does not know what the future holds. He does not know if he’ll play again.
Ulbrich said he is feeling better after concussion symptoms lingered three or four days. He said he does not know how many concussions he has experienced in his 10-year career, mostly because he does not know what classifies as a concussion.
Yes, it was a busy day today at 49ers’ headquarters after the team’s 45-10 loss to the Falcons.
–There’s no word yet on Michael Lewis’ immediate future after he sustained his third concussion since mid-August.
–Right guard Chilo Rachal’s starting job is in question after another poor performance Sunday, Singletary said. Tony Wragge is the most likely option to receive consideration for the starting lineup.
–Crabtree will remain in the Bay Area, and continue to learn the offense while his teammates will be allowed to leave Wednesday afternoon for the bye week. Said Singletary, “He’s already had his bye week.”
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Let’s start with Bly’s appearance during the press conference.
“First, I want to come to y’all and publicly apologize for yesterday. My comments, it was totally, totally inappropriate. I apologized to coach. I’m not a selfish guy. I didn’t mean to embarrass him — if I did embarrass him – embarrass my team, embarrass ownership, embarrass the fans. I’m a prideful guy. I like to have fun. It was totally inappropriate. I got caught up in the moment and it was wrong.”
Did you go to coach Singletary to apologize to him or did he come to you?
Bly: “I went to coach and apologize. After I had a chance to look at it last night and think things over. It was wrong. I’ve played this game for 11 years, played it well, and have been a prideful guy. I like to have fun. If you know anything about me, I’m a happy guy. I like interacting with my teammates and the guys I’m playing against. I got caught up in the moment and it was totally inappropriate. For what coach is looking for and what he’s trying to build, and a player being a veteran guy, I should’ve been smarter. It was a bad choice of mine. And I’m sorry.”
What in your mind was the worst part of it?
Bly: “It was the fumble. That was the worst part, giving the ball back to the offense. We take pride in causing turnovers and we bust our butt during the week. Try to put ourselves in position to give the ball back to the offense, and it could’ve been a turning point in the game and we could’ve gotten some momentum back. It was a bad, bad choice. Normally, when I intercept balls like that in the past, when I see that end zone, I think I’m going to score, and that was my initial thinking. Like I say, it was inappropriate. I should’ve been smarter. I’m a veteran guy . . .”
Before you decided to apologize, did other people contact you?
Bly: I’ve heard from . . . my phone blew up yesterday. But I didn’t need to talk to anybody. Like I said, I’ve played this game for a long time. I know what’s right. I was raised right. Especially, meeting with coach when I first got here, understanding what he was looking for from me and looking for from his team, it was inappropriate. It was bad timing. That’s not what I’m about. I like to compete and have fun. But it was a poor choice of mine.”
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Singletary said he has not and will not fine Bly. He said he thought he might have to go to Bly, but Bly took the initiative Monday morning. Singletary said he did not see Bly preening just prior to the fumble.
“By him coming to me and saying the things he said, it took off a lot of the thought process of where I was going to go with it,” Singletary said. “Because we are – we’re not trying to – we are building something here, something that will be special.
“But yesterday as a 49ers, that’s just something we will not do. And I think now he understands that. I didn’t see it yesterday. But for him to go forward and acknowledge that without me having to ask him to do that, I appreciate that from him. That’s who I was hoping he was when he came here, and it was good to hear.”
Singletary said he would have handled the situation differently yesterday had he seen it unfold before his eyes.
“If I would have knowledge that there was any Deion, whatever, I probably would’ve handled it differently. No, not probably. I would have handled it differently. I didn’t see it,” Singletary said.
As for Bly’s statement that he just likes to have fun, that was a loose end that Singletary said he’ll have to tie up.
“I don’t think that’s fun,” Singletary said. “It’s not fun at 35-10. Fun is when you’re ahead and you might get an interception. That’s great. That’s fun. But you’re not having fun when you’re behind 35-10. And that’s a little something that he and I have to clean up because that’s not fun.”
Bly arrived on the podium after apologizing to Singletary in the morning.
“What I told him, if what you’re saying is what you really mean, this is what I want you to do. I would like for you, instead of me trying to explain something, I’d like for you to go up there and express your opinion. You need to do it for the media; you can do it for the team; you can do it for the defense; you can do it for the offense; you can do it for everybody in our offices.
“To me, it says a lot about him to say, ‘You know what coach? You were right. I was way out of line, I was wrong. And I’m willing to do that because that’s not me. And I want to make this right because I do believe there’s something special happening here. And I want to be a part of that going forward.’ And that’s basically where we went with it.”
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Singletary said Lewis had a concussion and he “cleared right away.” Singletary said Lewis was coherent and knew what was happening. Now, they’ll watch day to day and see where it goes.
On Ulbrich’s future: “The biggest thing about Jeff, as in Mike, we’re going to evaluate there. We want to do all the testing we can just to make sure everything’s right because it’s about them.”
Ulbrich said he will take everything into consideration to determine whether he will try to play again. Ulbrich sustained a concussion on the opening kickoff Oct. 4 against the Rams.
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Singletary said where were one or two throws that Shaun Hill could have made that he did not in Sunday’s game. He said he felt the inconsistency on blitz pickups caused him to get rid of the ball prematurely.
Singletary blamed offensive line breakdowns in pass protection. “We will address that this week, next week. We might have to make some changes there going forward.”
When asked if Rachal’s play at right guard was the big concern, Singletary answered, “Quite possibly.”
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Running back Frank Gore is expected to be back at practice in some capacity this week. The 49ers have practices Tuesday and Wednesday before most of the team is free to leave for the bye week.
Crabtree will remain around the team’s offices to continue to learn bits of the offense.
“He’s already had his bye week,” Singletary said.
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Singletary finished his press conference with a flourish.
“I’m not going to apologize to the fans again. But the one thing I want you to know after a game like yesterday is the situation where you sit back and go, ‘Wow, I really didn’t know that could happen again.’ The thing I will say is this: This team, this team, will be a special team. This year will be a special year. It’s unfortunate as to what happened yesterday. As a staff we did not do a good job preparing for a team at bye week. But going forward, we will come back and we will get better, and will be a team for our fans to be proud of. I thank you very much.”
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Rossum was released today, and he handled the difficult situation with the utmost class. He personally thanked Singletary and GM Scot McCloughan for the opportunity. He said he feels as if he still “has a lot in the tank,” and would like to continue to play football.
The 49ers also announced they’ve released guard Drew Radovich from the practice squad.
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