Breakfast with Spagnuolo

The 49ers face the winless St. Louis Rams on Sunday at Candlestick, and Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo joined the 49ers press corps on a morning conference call.


–When asked what Spagnuolo sees on film from the 49ers, he said, “Tough, physical football team. Let’s face it, they could easily be 3-0. Mike’s done a terrific job. It looks like those players are echoing and mirroring exactly what he’s all about, which is a class guy and a tough football team. In knowing that, we have a challenge. We have to go to San Francisco and a lot of work to do this week.”


–Without Frank Gore, Spagnuolo says he does not expect the 49ers’ focus to change with Glen Coffee as the featured back.


“I think what they’re all about is a tremendously strong, physical, tough offensive line and I include the fullback in that. I think that’s what that run game’s all about. Now you throw Frank Gore in there, an excellent premiere back in this league, and that’s a pretty good run game. I see some really good things in the young kid, Coffee, and I think he’s going to be outstanding. I’ve always felt O-lines make running backs and running backs make O-lines, so it works hand in hand.”


–When asked what he sees in the 49ers’ offensive line, he answered, “I just think they’re big and physical. When I turn the tape on, I see them move people around. I see them coming off the ball, flat backs, and I think Jimmy (Raye) does a good job scheming them.”


–Isaac Bruce, of course, will always be remembered for his work with the Rams. He’ll play his former team for the third time in his career on Sunday. Spagnuolo pointed out one play from this season that shows what Bruce is all about.


“He’s terrific,” Spagnuolo said. “I remember him vividly when he was in St. Louis because I was with Philadelphia, and he kept us up at night giving us headaches, and he still does. No question, he’s a savvy vet.


“I think it was Seattle and they threw him a deep ball, and the corner played it really well. The corner was going to pick the ball off and Isaac turned himself into a DB and made a heck of a play to knock the ball (away). But that’s what you have. You have a quality guy, a veteran wide receiver who knows how to play the game.”


–QB Marc Bulger has an injured shoulder that forced him out of last week’s loss to Green Bay. Cal product Kyle Boller took over and played reasonably well. “I don’t think Marc will throw to today,” Spagnuolo said.


–On Boller: “I think he’s been terrific. He stepped up in a similar position in preseason games when Marc got hurt and didn’t play last few preseason games. He’s been a starter in this league, so that’s comforting to know.”


–The Rams are 0-3, and have been outscored 73-24 in those games. “We don’t look back and we don’t look forward, and we know we’re facing a good football team.”


–The Rams had a physical training camp, just like the 49ers. “We really needed to learn about our team. And the only way to play this game – it is a physical game, it is a hitting game – and the only way to really learn what guys can do is to put them in those situations. So we did a lot of that. I believe in that, whether you know your personnel or not. I think it’s more important when you’re coming in and new. It’s difficult to assess everybody’s ability in OTAs and minicamps because there are no pads.”


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The 49ers hit the practice field in a couple hours. The only players who definitely will not be available for Sunday’s game are RB Frank Gore and S Reggie Smith. Gore is out for two games, while Smith’s groin strain might keep him out past the Oct. 18 bye week.


Left tackle Joe Staley is listed as day-to-day after sustaining a right knee contusion in the fourth quarter against the Vikings.


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Question: Should Niner fans continue to hold out any hope for a Crabtree deal, or would you say it won’t happen at this point? (Ender)


Answer: My advice to you is take the Mike Singletary approach. Don’t worry about it. If it happens, it happens. It still might take a while. But — as I’ve written before — I just don’t see how Crabtree benefits from not signing the deal the 49ers have on the table. The only way, I suppose, is if there really has been some blatant tampering with guarantees from another team (or teams) that they’d be willing to pay him more. And I can’t see that happening. Players at the top of the first round are overpaid as it is. Crabtree would be overpaid at $16 million guaranteed — because of the system. I can’t believe there’s a team willing to overpay him even more. –Matt M.


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