No place for ‘ph’inesse, Singletary wants ‘f’yiscal

Coach Mike Singletary has not said it in exactly these terms, but he wants the 49ers to take on his personality.

He wants a straight-forward, aggressive, hard-hitting team. He does not want finesse – no matter how you spell it.


When Singletary met with 49ers fans during a town-hall style session in February, he described what he wants to see from his team. He called it, “Physical with an ‘F.'” And the folks in attendance erupted with cheers.


Question: What exactly does “Physical with an ‘F'” mean? It sounds impressive at first, but the literal translation escapes me. (Carl F.)


Answer: I suppose it’s the opposite of “Finesse” with a “Ph.” But I’m not sure that helps, either.


When Singletary first uttered that phrase, it crossed my mind briefly that the meaning might be a bit obscene. But then I remembered this is a highly honorable man who wears a cross around his neck on the football field. So scratch that thought.


What it boils down to, I believe, is the letter “F” is a lot more forceful than the soft-looking and passive “Ph.”


After all, why does a man like Singletary need two letters to form one sound? That’s what it’s all about. A physical, tough-minded team – that is how offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye describes what he wants to see from his unit – does not need two when one should suffice.


On a third-and-goal from the opponent’s 1-yard line, a hard-nosed, aggressive team should not need two downs to score when it can be accomplished with one straight-ahead power running play – with the offensive linemen blowing the opposition off the line of scrimmage.


That, my friends, is physical with an “F” . . . I think.


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Michael Crabtree in a recent interview with AOL Fanhouse disputed a couple anecdotes that have surfaced from his short time with the 49ers. He said he has never cried and he’s never been late to a meeting.


Singletary said when he told Crabtree he could not practice, his rookie receiver “about had tears in his eyes.” This was reported elsewhere that Singletary made Crabtree cry.


“I don’t understand where this stuff comes from,” he said. “I don’t know who said what but Michael Crabtree does not cry.”


Recently I relayed information from a 49ers source who told me teammates were warming up to Crabtree after having their doubts at first. Crabtree disputed the circumstances behind the alleged problem.


The source said the team had to do extra conditioning early in the offseason because Crabtree showed up late for a meeting while rehabbing his foot. Later during the offseason program, Crabtree was seen running with his teammates after Singletary stopped a sloppy practice. Although Crabtree was not practicing – he spent that time rehabilitating his foot – he ran with his teammates.


Crabtree said the first part of the story is inaccurate.


“Not true,” Crabtree said. “Nobody had to run because I was late for a meeting. That’s crazy. No. I’ve never been late to a meeting.”


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Crabtree remains one of three 49ers rookies who have yet to sign. While the 49ers have neared completion of the contracts for Glen Coffee and Nate Davis, Crabtree’s deal is expected to be the final one signed. After all, only two of the league’s 32 first-round draft picks have contracts.


While rookies are scheduled to report to 49ers training camp on Tuesday, the first practice is four days later. So Crabtree could sign up to four days late and still not miss any practice time. (He is expected to work with the team for the first time after spending the offseason recovering from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot.)


Rookies will check in and undergo physicals on Tuesday. On Wednesday and Thursday, those players will have offensive and defensive meetings in the morning and position meetings in the afternoon. After the full squad reports Thursday, the players will have meetings all day Friday.


By the time Saturday rolls around, the players will certainly be eager to get on the practice field.


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Rookie Nate Davis took part in a public-service announcement to answer President Barack Obama call to make a difference in their communities with the First Family’s “United We Serve” initiative.


“The players of the National Football League have a unique opportunity to serve as role models – both on and off the field – and I applaud them for answering the call to service through United We Serve,” President Obama said in a statement. “Their example proves that anyone, whether the toughest of athletes or the youngest of fans, has what it takes to make a difference in the life of their communities and their country.”


The partnership kicks off today with the national release of a new television public service announcement emphasizing the NFL Players Association’s support of the community service initiative.


The announcement, which includes Davis and more than 30 other NFL players and Obama is available for viewing at


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