Now hear this: Play-calling will be tested in KC

There were no problems with the play-calling system Monday night. But like so many things with the Niners, disaster could always strike on the road.

Mike Singletary conceded they couldn’t completely exhale until they successfully survived Kansas City, one of the noisiest places in the NFL. Crowd noise was a contributing factor to the problems in Seattle.

“I think the Kansas City game will be a good measuring stick for that,” Singletary said. “I just feel that the last time we had a lot of communication issues was on the road, so we’ll see how it works.”


Alex Smith said the wristband that he debuted Monday night has about 180
plays on it. The play-call is delivered as a number and Smith find the
number on his wristband. The move to the new system was seamless, but
Smith agreed the jury is still out.

“Yeah it will be another
really good test for us,” he said. “In the first three weeks, we’ll be
playing in the two, I think, of the two loudest outdoor stadiums. So
yeah, it will be another good test for us as far as communication goes. I
think it’s something we’ve improved on but, you know, I think it’s one
of those things that you can never stop working on.”

• With
inside linebacker Takeo Spikes’ status for Sunday’s game uncertain due
to a knee injury, rookie NaVorro Bowman could make his first NFL start.
Singletary said Bowman (five tackles vs. Saints) played well after
Spikes went out Monday.

So maybe the rookie can adequately fill the void. But who’s behind Bowman?

Rookie
Keaton Kristick, on the practice squad, is the only other inside
linebacker on the roster, but Singletary said today that Kristick is not
ready for a promotion. It’s possible the Niners could add an inside
linebacker if Spikes can’t go Sunday. It’s clear they’ve been looking.

“We
might have to (add an ILB) at some point in time, but it’s just a
provision right now that we’re trying to keep from just going out and
grabbing a body,” Singletary said.

Outside linebacker Ahmad
Brooks could move inside if needed. Brooks played middle linebacker with
the Bengals from 2006-07 and also played inside at the University of
Virgina.

• Ted Ginn (sprained MCL) and Kyle Williams (toe) are
both day to day, leaving the punt-returning duties up in the air.
Singletary mentioned Ginn and Williams – and their iffy health status —
when asked who would return punts Sunday. Asked if Williams would be
the top candidate to return punts if healthy, he didn’t bite, “It’s
possible,” he said.
UPDATE: Williams was not on today’s injury report. He should be ready to go Sunday.

• Center David Baas admitted his airmailed
shotgun snap that led to a safety Monday night was “embarrassing,” but
he quickly moved on thanks to sideline support. Baas said Singletary and
offensive line coach Mike Solari didn’t “blow up about it” and his
fellow offensive linemen also offered a bunch of shake-it-offs.

“Everyone was telling me to let it go,” Baas said. “I just had to let it go.”


Left guard Mike Iupati is fairly soft-spoken. And he prefers his crowds
to be quiet, too. After experiencing Qwest Field in his first NFL game,
Iupati was asked about playing in Arrowhead Stadium, “Whew,” Iupati
said, “I’m not too excited about that.”

In a recent NFL.com
article
, Mike Lombardi criticized the 49ers for not taking enough time
off the clock on their game-tying scoring drive against the Saints. I
respectfully disagree. The Niners don’t have the luxury of getting cute
with the clock. If they can score a touchdown — a feat they didn’t
manage in Week 1 — they need to punch it in. And it’s been that way for
quite some time now. Consider … the Niners’ 417 yards against the
Saints ranked sixth in the NFL in Week 2, but it was the most they had
gained since compiling 448 yards in a 31-28 win against the Cardinals on
— get ready for this — Oct. 10, 2004.

• Chiefs coach Todd
Haley and linebacker Mike Vrabel were on conference calls today.
Highlights? Haley called Frank Gore “one of the beasts of all beasts.”
Vrabel on Alex Smith: “I know he’s been there for six years and kind of
had some ups and downs, but you got to respect a guy that hangs in there
and continues. (He’s) kind of have had other faces come in there in
camp and battle with him, and here he is looking like he’s ready to have
some success.”

• Smith has been named one of The Sporting News’ 20 smartest athletes, placing No. 11 on the list.

Smith
had a 4.4 GPA in high school and graduated a semester early. He earned
his degree in economics in two years at Utah, finishing with a 3.74 GPA,
and began working on his Masters before he was drafted.

Smith, not surprisingly, is quite articulate, but he began groping for words when asked if he considers himself smart.

“You
know,” he began, “no idea. I guess I consider myself … decently. You
know, whatever. I do OK for myself. I had no idea, though. That’s a
compliment, but I don’t know what else to say about that.”

By the way, A’s pitcher Craig Breslow, who earned degrees in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale, topped the list.