The non-quarterback news from today in Santa Clara:
• Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe knows how to handle elusive wide receivers and hard-charging running backs, but he admits a certain Hall-of-Fame middle linebacker had him momentarily on his heels.
Atogwe, who is scheduled to marry Mike Singletary’s daughter, Jill, on May 21, said his first meeting with his girlfriend’s father inspired a few butterflies.
“I can’t lie to you: The first time I met him, for about five seconds I was intimidated,” Atogwe said. “After that he said hello and we started talking and then it went out the window.”
Was Atogwe intimidated because he’s Mike Singletary or because he’s Jill’s dad?
“All of the above,” he said.
Atogwe, 29, who played at Stanford, met Jill Singletary at a church in Chicago. Singletary was a freshman at the Illinois Institute of Art and Atogwe was attending the Kellogg Business School at Northwestern University as part of the NFL’s Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program.
Singletary, a volleyball player, has since transferred and is a sophomore middle blocker at Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
Atogwe said it hasn’t been odd playing against the team of his now future father-in-law.
“I have a job to do when I’m on the field,” he said. “And he has a job to do, preparing his team to win.”
• The Niners might have received quite a gift when they claimed LB Thaddeus Gibson off waivers on Nov. 1. They will officially unwrap the rookie outside linebacker the day after Christmas.
Gibson, a fourth-round pick (116th overall) by the Steelers, was cut when injuries forced Pittsburgh to add a defensive lineman to their roster. He will make his NFL debut Sunday after being inactive for six games in Pittsburgh and six in San Francisco.
At this point in his career, the 6-2, 243-pound Gibson, who played defensive end last year at Ohio State, is a pass-rusher with limited coverage skills. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said Gibson could play on some third-down situations.
“I’m not sure but he said be ready for third downs and obviously special teams,” Gibson said when asked about his role.
Gibson left Ohio State after his junior year, in part, because his mom had serious health issues and he could help provide financial support. He began his NFL career less than 150 miles from his hometown of Euclid, Ohio, before Pittsburgh cut him loose.
“It’s been a crazy year,” Gibson said. “But it’s a crazy business. You’ve just got to stay focused and stay grounded and keep working.”
• Last week’s 34-7 loss to the Chargers began to turn when rookie RB Anthony Dixon was stuffed for a one-yard loss on fourth-and-goal inside the one-yard line with the Niners trailing 7-0 early in the second quarter.
Offensive coordinator Mike Johnson defended the play call today. Johnson was asked if he didn’t try a quarterback sneak because of the separated shoulder Alex Smith suffered earlier this season.
“I have no question that the call that we made was the right call. Now did we execute the call? No,” Johnson said. “But we want to be a physical football team. Being the offensive coordinator, if you are on the half yard line, if we want to be (physical), then I think we have to be able to execute and pick that half a yard up. That time we didn’t, for whatever reason we didn’t do it, and it’s something that I’m not happy with, but it’s something that going forward we have to execute better in that situation.”
Johnson declined to specify who missed a blocking assignment on the play.
• Dixon (sprained left ankle) is still walking with a limp, but he plans to play Sunday, “It won’t be a problem,” he said. Dixon didn’t practice today.