Gore up middle. Gore up middle. And then …

The Mike Singletary day-after-game press conference today was another fascinating look into his mindset as he tries to figure out – quite openly – how to handle the media, the referees and other aspects of his job in his second full season.

But we’ve discussed Singletary a fair amount in the past week, so I’ll leave that for the newspaper.

As far as other issues …


Singletary praised offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye and defensive
coordinator Greg Manusky for their game plans. He said they created a
flow “that we wanted to have.” 

That seemed particularly true of Raye. For starters, the plays arrived
on time. The Niners had to take one delay-of-game penalty, but it was
because Vernon Davis evidently had a problem with his helmet and was
late to the huddle. Alex Smith’s wristband (and no doubt increased
emphasis on the issue in the past week) seemed to be a cure-all. Since
crowd noise contributed to the problems in Seattle, perhaps the Niners
will have to survive Kansas City before considering this problem
officially solved.

Of course, getting play calls delivered promptly is a rather low bar to
clear. And Raye’s primary duty – calling plays – has drawn a fair amount
of criticism.

I think I heard most of you pounding the keyboard in all caps after the
Niners first two drives netted 13 yards, no first downs and began,
naturally, with Frank Gore RUNS UP THE MIDDLE ON FIRST DOWN!!!

But just using first-down plays as an example, it’s obvious Raye began to mix it up after the Niners trailed 9-0.

Some first-down stats:

• The Niners had 31 first-down plays — 12 runs by Gore, 16 passes by
Smith and three scrambles by Smith. So call it 19 passes and 12 runs on
first down. They averaged 6.5 yards on first-down plays.
• The first-down statistical breakdown: Rushing, Gore 12-71, Smith 3-28. Passing, Smith 10-16-2-101.
• Raye stuck almost exclusively with the short-passing game on first
downs until the final two-minute drive. On the Niners’ first nine
drives, Smith was 7 of 12 for 68 yards. His only completion over seven
yards was his 41-yarder to Davis.
• Surely just an oddity, but … the three offensive turnovers – Smith’s
two interceptions and Delanie Walker’s fumble – were on first-down
plays.

In other news …

• Singletary wasn’t clear on the status of C Eric Heitmann (broken
fibula) once he returns. (Heitmann went down Aug. 6 and the timetable
for his return was six to eight weeks). Center David Baas, a natural
guard, made his first NFL start at center in the season opener. His
second start at the position began ominously with the airmailed shotgun
snap, which led to a safety. But Baas has adjusted nicely to his new
spot. “He’s taken ownership of that position and done well,” Singletary
said.

Of Heitmann, a nine-year veteran who has been named the team’s top
lineman on three occasions, Singletary said, “We’ll have to sit down and
evaluate and talk about chemistry.”

• Singletary said RG Chilo Rachal would retain his starting spot when he
returns from a shoulder stinger. Adam Snyder started in Rachal’s
absence against the Saints and was part of a line that didn’t allow a
sack – a feat the 49ers managed once in 2009. Singletary said of the
front five, “I was really proud of the O-line. That was the best I’ve
seen them play since I’ve been here.”

• The wind was howling at Candlestick, but would the Niners really have
rookie Phillip Adams return punts in Kansas City? Adams muffed a
fourth-quarter punt and nearly had another tick off his hands. He did
have a 16-yard return that he nearly broke – a tantalizing bit of burst
for a team without a return over 18 yards last year. The status of Ted
Ginn (sprained MCL) and Kyle Williams (toe) is uncertain for Sunday. Singletary said he will
“evaluate” the situation. He has mentioned Dominique Zeigler as a
candidate to return punts.

• For those scratching their heads, wondering if they’ve ever seen Alex
Smith look like that … Singletary said he never has, “I thought Alex
played his best game since he’s been here,” he said.

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