Leadership and The Smiths

“Everything he’s done this offseason, to me, exemplifies leadership and the character that we want on this football team … If he’s not a leader, then he wouldn’t be a captain on this team. Hopefully you want that position (quarterback) to be a leader, and fortunately we have that this year.” — Mike Singletary on Alex Smith being named a team captain, Sept. 8 “One thing that you have in…

November 3, 2010
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Troy Smith impresses after handoff-fest

Given Troy Smith’s inexperience and rust, the 49ers can’t be faulted for easing him into Sunday’s game, particularly after he fired a few early throws to Greenwich. Still, they went a little crazy with that easing-in stuff. Mike Singletary deserves praise for starting Smith over David Carr. But given the way the Niners kept their quarterback in shackles for three quarters, it gave the impression Singletary based his decision on…

November 1, 2010
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The links from Niners’ win in London

After writing, and packing and disputing incorrect hotel charges (I did not use the mini bar!), I’m scared of what might happen if I’d tried to blog something in English. With that in mind, I’ll play it safe. Here are the links from the Niners’ 24-16 win over the Broncos, all written long before the mini-bar controversy.

October 31, 2010
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Pregame notes: Niners-Broncos from London

Cheers from Wembley Stadium. It’s a nice place they have here. I had initially envisioned Wembley as the English version of Fenway Park or Lambeau Field. You know, charming. Rustic. Horribly smelly bathrooms. Shows you what I know. The original Wembley Stadium, opened in 1923, was demolished in 2003. This place, which was built on the same site, was opened in 2007. It’s a sparkling modern complex, complete with, most…

October 31, 2010
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Goodell knows The Stick’s seen better days

At a fan forum at the Landmark Hotel in London today, an Irish man wearing a Jerry Rice jersey called Candlestick Park an “old-school stadium” while asking a question of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The Commish, clearly well aware that Candlestick is more accurately described as a dump, responded “That’s a nice way to put it.” Goodell knows the 49ers’ home since 1971 has seen better days. But he’s also…

October 30, 2010
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Why those guys behind Gore might play Sunday

Niners fans already knew they would get their first look at quarterback Troy Smith on Sunday. And based on what Mike Singletary said today, they might also get their most extended looks of the season at backup running backs Brian Westbrook and Anthony Dixon when the 49ers meet the Broncos at Wembley Stadium. Yes, we know, Singletary and offensive coordinator Mike Johnson have delivered this line before. A lot.

October 29, 2010
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Blast from the past: Brandon Lloyd

In his first seven seasons in the NFL — his first three with the 49ers — Denver wide receiver Brandon Lloyd played for four teams and never had more than 733 yards or 48 catches in a season. He was traded by the 49ers, released by the Redskins and discarded by the Bears. Last year, his first with the Broncos, he was inactive for the first 14 games.

October 28, 2010
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Troy Smith a mystery … for everyone

Niners offensive coordinator Mike Johnson will have to spend more time putting together a game plan this week here in England. Several extra hours are required when the new starting quarterback is about as mysterious as Yorkshire Pudding. Most San Francisco fans will be getting their extensive look at Troy Smith when the former Heisman Trophy winner at Ohio State plays against the Broncos on Sunday. And they won’t be…

October 28, 2010
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Walking in London. And walking, and walking …

Do you know how some people can, say, look at a map of a subway system in a strange city and figure out where they need to go? I can look at the same map and cry. When it comes to common sense and travel, I’m a zero on a scale of 272. Already this season, I’ve become flummoxed by Southwest’s pre-boarding policy and somehow lost my boarding ticket while…

October 27, 2010
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Spikes speaks out about reduced role

In the aftermath of a loss to the Chiefs in Week 3, Mike Singletary told linebacker Takeo Spikes that he’d be sharing snaps with rookie NaVorro Bowman the rest of the season. The move was made to help reduce the wear and tear on the 33-year-old Spikes, a 13-year veteran. Spikes wasn’t initially thrilled about his reduction in playing time, but has since softened his stance, Singletary said today. “At…

October 27, 2010
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Now starting for the 49ers, Troy Smith

If the 49ers’ season is still salvageable, it will be up to Troy Smith to help save it. Mike Singletary announced today that Smith, not nine-year veteran and presumptive backup David Carr, will start in place of Alex Smith on Sunday against the Broncos at Wembley Stadium. Smith will miss two to three weeks with a separation of his non-throwing shoulder.

October 27, 2010
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John York on Singletary: He’s our coach

Mike Singletary now has more votes of confidence than wins this season. Niners owner John York said today in London that Singletary will remain San Francisco’s head coach through the remainder of the season despite the team’s 1-6 start. “Yes,” York said. “He’s our coach.”

October 26, 2010
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In London with the ‘spluttering’ 49ers

Greetings from London, where Andrew Elliott writes in today’s Daily Express, “Before the season started, the 49ers were touted as Superbowl contenders. But their defence has been porous and their offence has spluttered.” Preseason “Superbowl” contenders? Don’t know about that. Spluttered? That sounds about right.

October 26, 2010
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No playoff talk from Singletary in England

A new country. A slightly different tone. Mike Singletary didn’t mention playoff hopes today in his introductory press conference in England. Instead, he seemed to concede that at least some of the 49ers’ goals for the 2010 season were out of reach after their 23-20 loss to the previously winless Panthers on Sunday dropped them to 1-6.

October 25, 2010
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How are you? Singletary: I’ve got to look at the film

After his team’s latest loss, this one at the hands of a zero-win team with an invisible offense, Mike Singletary was asked a fair question: Are the 49ers just not very good? He responded in typical fashion. His voice was strong and authoritative. And he continue to envision a future only perhaps the most optimistic — delusional, if you’d rather — Niners fan can still see. “I still believe we…

October 24, 2010
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Good morning from Charlotte

Greetings from Charlotte, a place where the front desk, wake-up-call lady calls you “honey.” I thought that was a nice touch. Interestingly, I never did get a wake-up call, but why worry about such a triviality in such a nice place? The taxi driver, who said he’s lived in Charlotte for 20 years, also got lost on the 10-mile hotel-to-stadium journey. No worries. He was also unusually pleasant. (By the…

October 24, 2010
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Kickers to reconnect and, um, Groin Gate

Due to the nature of their position, many NFL placekickers share a certain bond. And given that the 49ers Joe Nedney, 37, and Carolina’s John Kasay, 40, have a combined 35 years of NFL experience, it’s not surprising their relationship is more unique than most. In 2000, Kasay suffered a horrific injury during a training-camp practice when he broke his left kneecap. The bone in kicking knee, which ACL surgery…

October 22, 2010
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Move the chains: Niners converting under new OC

Jimmy Raye was the 49ers offensive coordinator during this season’s first three games. The Niners converted 10 of 41 third downs under Raye. That is 24 percent. Not too good. Mike Johnson has been the 49ers offensive coordinator the past three games. The Niners have converted 21 of 42 first downs under Johnson. That is 50 percent. Very good. Raye, presumably, was fired because he wasn’t doing too hot at…

October 21, 2010
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Gore needs rest … at some point

Where’s Brian Westbrook? Today we received the most definitive answer of the season: He’s in Frank Gore’s all-consuming shadow. Offensive coordinator Mike Johnson said Gore never wants to come off the field. No real news there. But Johnson also acknowledged that Gore’s versatility — particularly his unparalleled brilliance in picking up blitzes — has made the coaching staff view him as the NFL’s most dynamic security blanket. “It’s a comfort…

October 21, 2010
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Willis admits to early season frustration

Remember when Patrick Willis laid out Reggie Bush on that screen pass in Week 2? Of course you do. That was a classic oh-my-gosh-did-you-see-that Willis moment, the type that have many already ticketing the 25-year-old three-time Pro Bowler for Canton. Now, do you remember another similar highlight-reel play from Willis this season? It’s OK if you’re still thinking. It sure seems like there haven’t been too many.

October 20, 2010
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