Rookie tips: Learn playbook. Don’t upset P-Willy …

Do you remember when Reggie Bush caught a screen pass Monday night and was flattened by Patrick Willis, who used his World Famous Human Flying Missile Routine to snap Bush’s head back and impale him in the turf?

I wonder if Chiefs rookie wide receiver Dexter McCluster saw that play. And, if he did, I wonder if he was thinking: What was I thinking?

Seven months ago, McClutser mentioned at the NFL Combine that he once made Willis, his old teammate at Ole Miss, “look silly” with a drop step in the open field during a Rebels’ practice years ago.


Now, McCluster, who referred to his old teammate as “P-Wily,” wasn’t
exactly trash talking. He went on to say that Willis, a senior when
McCluster was a freshman, took it easy on him in practice and basically
protected him.

Still, with the former teammates preparing to meet Sunday in Kansas
City, Willis was asked about McCluster’s comments today. Willis didn’t
recall looking silly. But he didn’t deny McCluster’s version of events.
For the record, Willis seemed more amused than irritated.

“If you’ve been a defensive player playing football all your life and
you’ve never been juked, there’s something wrong,” Willis said. “…
Offensive guys are going to make plays. Defensive guys are going to make
plays. But we’ll see this Sunday. It’s us against them. It’s not about
me and McCluster at Ole Miss. It’s the 49ers and Chiefs.”

Willis was actually juked, badly, by Bush on the Saints’ first touchdown
before he exacted his revenge on the screen pass. And Willis said the
dynamic 5-8, 170-pound McCluster evokes some memories of Bush. McCluster
had a 94-yard punt return in Kansas City’s season-opening win over the
Chargers, but hasn’t become too involved in the offense – he has two
catches for nine yards and two carries for three yards.

“Him and Reggie, they have a lot of similarities in terms of how they’re
used and what they’re capable of doing,” Willis said. “… I’m confident
in what we have, so we’ll see.”

For his part, McCluster may have seen more than he wanted to on Monday night.

• Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye was asked about how the Niners
managed the clock in the final minutes Monday night. They had drawn some
criticism in some circles for leaving too much time on the clock — 74
seconds — for Drew Brees to do his thing.

As discussed here Wednesday, this argument borders on absurd. And Raye
explained that the Niners needed to score a touchdown and get a
two-point conversion. His implication was that they needed to have some
time on the clock for an onside kick if the two-point try failed.

“You can’t worry about taking time off the clock and being judicious
because you’re not playing for a field goal to tie, you’re playing for
two scores,” Raye said.

• After drawing criticism for the play-calling problems in Week 1, Raye
has earned positive reviews for his work Monday. Singletary praised him
Tuesday. On Wednesday, Chiefs coach Todd Haley raved about his game plan
against the Saints.

Raye was asked if he thought he did a particularly good job.

“I thought I did a good job in Seattle, maybe I’m biased, but no,” he
said. “Sometimes you’re hitting the rhythm, sometimes you’re on. I’ll
tell you this, it’s a lot easier to call them when they’re working. I
don’t critique it that way. I look for the fundamental execution of what
we are trying to do to get onto the next thing. I think this is the
only place I’ve coached in 34 years that the coaches’ performance was
evaluated.”

OK. But I was puzzled by his last comment.

Aren’t most of us with jobs being evaluated by someone? And I’d suppose
an NFL offensive coordinator gets evaluated — by the head coach, the
media, the fans — quite a bit more than most 9-to-5ers.

• Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky was optimistic that ILB Takeo
Spikes (knee) could play Sunday. “I think he’ll be ready. Ready to
roll,” Manusky said this morning. But Spikes didn’t practice this
afternoon for the second straight day. Stay tuned.

• If Spikes can’t play, NaVorro Bowman would start. And Manusky said
Parys Haralson or Manny Lawson would backup Bowman. Ahmad Brooks has
more experience playing inside, but Manusky said Haralson and Lawson
have a better overall understanding of the defense.

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