More to accomplish in ’09 even without playoffs

Mike Singletary was as compelling as ever during his Monday press conference. One thing that is very apparent is that Mike Singletary tries. He tries very hard.

 

He listens to the questions and he does a good job of giving a thorough answer. It’s not like he’s pre-programmed to give a set answer regardless of the question asked of him.

 

The 49ers (5-6) have five games remaining, and they do not solely control their playoff fortunes. I asked Singletary how important it is — along with fighting for the playoffs — to figure out in these final five games offensive system, the coordinator and, especially, the quarterback for 2010 and beyond.

 

“The thing that’s exciting to me is I think in the next five weeks – really, in the next couple weeks – a lot of those questions will be answered,” Singletary said. “That’s why it’s so exciting to be 5-6 and still in the hunt, still be in the chase. You’re right, a lot of things are out of our control, but the fact that there are five games that remain, we still have a chance to do the things we want to accomplish. I believe that to the core of my being.”

 

I asked if the 2009 49ers can do that — accomplish their goal — if they don’t make it to the playoffs.

 

“Um, I’ll hold off on that one because coming into the season . . . I’ll hold off on that one. I’ll answer that in a couple weeks,” he said.

 

I take that to mean that Singletary has invested so much in taking the 49ers to the playoffs this season that he does not want to even consider the thought that the 49ers will not be playing football the second week of January.

 

Only after the 49ers are eliminated will he allow himself to shift his focus to next season.

 

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The 49ers remain hopeful left tackle Joe Staley will be back for the 49ers’ game Dec. 14 against the Cardinals after he sustained a complete tear of the medial collateral ligament and a grade-2 tear of his posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

 

Potentially, that game could shape up as a big one. If the 49ers take care of business in Seattle, the focus would shift to the Cardinals’ Sunday night game against the Vikings. With a 49ers’ win and an Arizona loss, the Monday night game would determine the lead dog in the NFC West with three games left.

 

Staley was told his injury would keep him out of action for 6 to 8 weeks. “Exactly six weeks would’ve been the Monday night game,” Staley said. “I was going to do everything in my power to make it six weeks.”

 

So far, he has not experienced any setbacks. He began running today. He won’t play Sunday against the Seahawks, as he points to the game against the Cardinals.

 

When Staley is ready to return, he will return at left tackle, Singletary said. And Singletary also expressed satisfaction with the way right tackle Adam Snyder and right guard Chilo Rachal are playing. As well as Barry Sims has done filling in for Staley, Sims will likely go back to a reserve role when Staley is healthy.

 

As for cornerback Nate Clements, the 49ers think they might get him back for the final game of the season. He sustained a broken left shoulder blade on Nov. 1 against the Colts.

 

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Again, a lot was made of Alex Smith’s voicing his suggestions to the coaching staff. Singletary talked about the players taking ownership. Smith downplayed the whole thing. He said he often offers his suggestions to offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye.

 

While the 49ers might feel confident in running an offense with spread elements, let’s not forget they were playing a Jacksonville team that does not put a lot of pressure on the quarterback and that was playing without its top cornerback.

 

“It was a combination of both,” Smith said. “Any changes you make have to match up to your opponent.”

 

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Among the individuals Singletary spoke about:

 

–OLB Ahmad Brooks, who usually stands up, did not get off the ball as well as he’d like in his first game as the “starting” nickel pass rusher in place of Manny Lawson.

 

–S Dashon Goldson missed some tackles and took bad angles because he just “wants to annihilate” the man with the ball.

 

–OLs Chilo Rachal and Adam Snder on the right side of the offensive line are doing a better job of passing off stunting pass rushers. Their communication has improved.

 

–LT Barry Sims is a backup who wants to play, and he has played very well since taking over for Staley.

 

–TE Vernon Davis is having a “tremendous year” and Singletary said he should make the Pro Bowl. He dropped three passes, and Singletary said he has to make those grabs.

 

–WR Michael Crabtree continues to grow and mature. He dropped a TD pass, so he needs to get out with Davis after practice catching more passes.

 

–WR Josh Morgan did a nice job catching the ball and making downfield blocks.

 

–QB Alex Smith took a big step.

 

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Injury report: WR Josh Morgan (hip contusion), DL Kentwan Balmer (right shoulder subluxation), LB Parys Haralson (thumb contusion) and S Curtis Taylor underwent an MRI this morning for his hip flexor strain. His status is uncertain.

 

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Here’s a leftover from Sunday. I didn’t see where this note made it online:

 

It looked as if the 49ers were going to receive the assistance of a Hall of Fame linebacker for a goal-line stand. But, no, Mike Singletary was not interested in making a play. All he wanted was a timeout.

 

“I was going to go all the way to the huddle,” said Singletary, who was trying to get the attention of the officials when he took off on a sprint from the 49ers’ sideline in hopes of calling a fourth-quarter timeout.

 

“I mean, I’m yelling on the sideline and they always say, ‘Mike, just come all the way and do whatever you got to do to get our attention.’ So I was sprinting out there. So, whatever I have to do to do that, I’ll do it every time.”

 

Singletary and the 49ers were granted the timeout. On the play after the timeout, the 49ers defended a third-down pass from the 3-yard line. On fourth down, Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee hit the right upright and missed a 21-yard field-goal attempt.

 

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Programming notes. There will be no video recap this week, as the great John Burgess was under the weather Sunday and unable to attend the game. But look for the return of the all-53-man 49ers recap.

 

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