I just completed typing up the transcript of Mike Singletary’s meeting with the press today. There’s a lot of stuff, so I’m breaking it up into two parts.
In this part, Singletary speaks exclusively about the team’s offense. Obviously, it sounds as if he fully expects Alex Smith to return. He said the 49ers are in “no hurry” to sign a veteran quarterback to join in the Shaun Hill vs. Smith competition. Also, when he spoke about selecting a quarterback in the draft, he spoke in terms of getting a youngster later in the draft who can be developed.
I don’t believe the 49ers will select Mark Sanchez with the No. 10 pick, though it should be noted that Sanchez just revealed he is scheduled to meet with the 49ers on Saturday night for a 15-minute interview. He is scheduled to speak with about five teams each of the next two evenings.
Also, it seems to be a major priority to find a running back to share the load with Frank Gore. DeShaun Foster was the No. 2 back last season, but he rarely played when Gore was healthy. Foster had 55 carries in the four games in which Gore saw limited action with an ankle sprain. Foster had just 21 rushing attempts in the other 12 games.
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Q: Is Shaun Hill the clear-cut No. 1 heading into this offseason.
Singletary: That is important to a lot of people. To me, the most important thing we have at that quarterback position is competition. I think going into training camp, of course, I could say, ‘Shaun Hill is our starting quarterback going into training camp.’ But what does that really say? It says he’s going to compete for the job. To me, at the end of the day, I think the most important thing rather than say Shaun Hill is the starter, is making sure whoever we have at the quarterback position, we have the best guy on the field and gives us the best chance to win. That’s the most important thing that’s going to come out of our quarterback situation.
Q: Is the two-man competition (Hill and Alex Smith) what you’re looking at or are you going to bring in others to add to the competition?
Singletary: I think there are some things we have to pay attention to. We’re going to work that out. Hopefully, Alex is back and that adds competition. Maybe we get somebody in the draft on down somewhere if there’s a guy there we think we can bring in and develop. We have a chance to develop a guy for down the road, then it creates a good situation for us and that’s something that’s something that’s important to us and important for our future going forward. So we’re excited about that, but we’re taking it one day at a time.
Q: What are your early impressions of the quarterbacks at the top of the draft?
Singletary: Right now, as I look at the quarterbacks who are available in the first round or so and people are talking about, you kind of look at them. You never know what’s going to happen. But I think more so than anything else, we’re just trying to look at the best player there and try to make the best decision for our organization. When that time comes, we’ll look at it.
Q: What are the major characteristics a quarterback has to have to play for you?
Singletary: This may shock you a bit. But once again when you look at the film, I think it’s important certainly for a quarterback to have accuracy, certainly got to make all the throws, certainly you got to have the talent and certainly you got to be smart. But I think really what it comes down to for me, the quarterback has to be a quarterback that’s going to make a difference down the stretch when you’re looking at that film again, looking at what happens after he makes a bad play. What happens when he doesn’t make the right reads? How does his respond to that? What happens after he gets sacked? Is he afraid to stand in and take a hit? What does he do for his team? What are the intangibles outside of what his talent brings? Is he a leader? All those things. Those are some of the smaller things I look for in terms of a quarterback who is going to lead our team.
Q: Do you have any feelings about bringing in a veteran free-agent quarterback for a No. 2 or possibly challenge for a starting job?
Singletary: I think we’ve certainly talked about it, but I think it’s one of those things right now we’re just trying to weigh all the different scenarios and pick the best one. But we’re not in a hurry to go and grab a veteran quarterback and try to bring him in. We feel Shaun Hill is pretty stable and we’re excited about what Shaun did this past season and what he can bring going forward. I think we’re going to look at all the options as we go forward and make the best decision.
Q: You talked about quarterbacks handling adversity. Alex Smith has had a lot of negative things. How has he responded?
Singletary: I think for Alex Smith, in all fairness to him, I think he’s a young man who’s been through a lot very early on in his career. I think taking away some of the drama that has existed around him and putting better people in front of him to protect him, giving him a few more weapons, he and Shaun both it’s going to be interesting to see how that goes. He’s been dealt a pretty tough four years. Hopefully, we’re on the other side of that.
Q: Can you talk about the offensive style and what role does
Singletary: First of all, when I look at our offense and our personnel, I think the most important thing is that we’re able to execute running the football and throwing the football. There are a lot of misconceptions. When I talk about the physicality of the game, it’s not just running the ball. To me, there’s a physicality that comes to the game even when you’re throwing the ball. I want to see guys going downfield and knocking people on their tails rather than looking around and saying, ‘Why didn’t you throw the ball to me?’ I think that’s very important. The physicality I’m talking about goes from the time the ball is snapped until that play is over. First and foremost, is just that mentality. Outside of that, it’s very important for us to be able to run the ball when we need to run the ball. That’s important. I don’t care if they have eight people in the box or nine people in the box. When you want to run the ball and you need to run the ball to win the game, let’s run the ball. And all the other things, let that go to the wayside. Let’s run the ball.
Q: Do you feel comfortable with your depth at running back?
Singletary: I’d say, thank God we’re at this time of the year. We’re probably going to add some depth to that position. There are some good backs in the draft and very excited about the possibility of getting another guy to help share the load.
Q: Do you envision a two-back set with Frank Gore?
Singletary: I would think when you look at Frank Gore, Frank is a special running back. I’m very excited about the way he runs, his running style and what he brings our the team. And the physicality that we’re talking about, that’s what Frank is. But I think it would help to have someone come in and share that load, maybe someone who has a different style – someone who adds another dimension to our running game. That would be very advantageous for us.
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After his formal press conference, I asked Singletary a couple more questions offense-related questions
Q: Have you talked to Isaac Bruce lately?
Singletary: Yes, I have talked to Isaac.
Q: What is your feeling about whether he’ll return?
Singletary: I’ve given him some time to really think about what he wants to do because a lot will be demanded of him. So, ‘Take your time, Isaac. I know who you are; the coaches know who you are. And let me know exactly what you want to do and we can live with it one way or another.’
Q: Is there a timetable about you wanting to know before free agency or before the draft?
Singletary: I’d like to know sooner than later, that’s basically it. He’s earned that right. I’m excited to see what he comes back with, one way or the other. I’m thankful for what he’s done to our team and the affect it will have on our receivers and our team. Whether he’s back or not, he’s done a lot already.
Q: What is the situation with DeShaun Foster and Bryant Johnson? It does not seem as if the team is prepare to move on and get younger player to fill those roles.
Singletary: I think going forward we’re going to continue to look at it and monitor it, and see how that plays out.
Q: Would you consider moving Joe Staley back to right tackle if you pick up a player better suited to play left tackle?
Staley: I think it’s going to come down to whether we get something in free agency or get something in the draft that will cause us to sit down and figure out how we can find the right spots for our guys. With Joe, I don’t know if that’s going to be right tackle or left tackle. We’ll figure all that out.
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