Singletary backs Raye’s playcalling

I was running late today, as I had to hustle home from Santa Clara after flying in this morning from Indianapolis to be there to pick up the birthday girl from school.



Let’s hit some of the key points from the couple hours I spent in 49ersland today:


–First, an observation from yesterday’s game. Alex Smith was very successful in the two-minute drill at the end of the first half. He completed 5 of 6 passes for 49 and a touchdown while in the shotgun formation and a three-receiver set. (The first play of the drive, a 27-yard pass to Michael Crabtree, came with him under center.)


But in the second half, the 49ers used the shotgun formation just four times – and three times were on third and long. He completed 1 of 2 passes and was sacked twice.


I asked Mike Singletary why they scrapped the shotgun formation and three-receiver sets in the second half. He said it’s because the coaches have not had much “exposure” to Smith, and Smith has not had much “exposure” to that portion of the playbook.


Said Singletary: “You don’t want to put him in a situation where, ‘OK, is Alex really ready to do that?’ You take a step back. ‘Is our offensive line really ready to do that?’ Once you do that then there are some things that are not happening, which you say, ‘Well, maybe it’s the core of your offense.’ I think going forward, there’s a trust issue there and there’s also using wisdom and making sure that if we are going to put them in that situation, why are we putting them in that situation, when do we put them in that situation and is Alex really ready for that?


“Do we do something to hurt him? That’s not something that I want to do. I think Alex, what he’s doing right now, he’s taken advantage of some opportunities that are there and we are finding out more and more, what routes he throws really well, what he feels really comfortable with. I think as we go along here in the next week or two, it gives us a better idea, when we see in practice, what he can and cannot do, what he really feels comfortable with.”


–I’ve received a few questions about Smith calling plays on that two-minute drive at the end of the first half. Actually, he called just two plays at the line of scrimmage as the 49ers were in hurry-up mode. He called plays that resulted in a 12-yard gain to Isaac Bruce and an incompletion to Vernon Davis. The plays he called came from the two-minute portion of the game plan. The plays he called came when the clock was running and the 49ers were in no-huddle mode.


–Singletary said he fully supports the play-calling of offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye.


“I, 150-percent, back what he’s doing, absolutely,” Singletary said. “There’s not one iota that I’m wavering here or there, whatever. Jimmy knows there are some things going forward that he has to learn about our players, what they can and cannot do.”


Singletary also gave the single biggest endorsement of Smith since he’s been in the league.


“It looks like he is developing very quickly into that quarterback that can be a special quarterback,” Singletary said. “We are excited about that.”


–Cornerback Nate Clements will not be placed on injured reserve, Singletary said. He has a fractured right shoulder blade. The 49ers obviously believe Clements can return late in the regular season. (The 49ers expect him to miss 6-to-8 weeks.) Also, Singletary said he expects the 49ers to be in the playoffs. If the 49ers placed Clements on injured reserve, he’d be ineligible to play again this season.


It was a rough day for Clements. He was benched in favor of Tarell Brown, and then he sustained his injury while returning a punt late in the first half.


“It was tough,” Clements said of the demotion. “It was tough, but I’m going to be professional about it and do anything to help my teammates and help this team get back on track.”


As for his future, Clements said he has not given it much thought. It’s debatable whether the 49ers would bring him back at his current $6.5 million salary – including a $500,000 workout bonus — for next year. His focus, he said, is on rehabilitating his right shoulder to make sure he is ready to go when the fracture heals.


“I’m just going to continue to be Nate and work hard like I’ve done my whole career,” Clements said.


There’s good news regarding left tackle Joe Staley. He did not sustain an injury to his anterior-cruciate ligament. His right knee injury is not considered a potential season-ending injury. There is still no timeframe for when he might return to action, though. He looks doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Titans.


Joe Staley is expected to miss six weeks with his knee injury. The 49ers have no lost both starting tackles in back-to-back games. Right tackle Tony Pashos is out for the season with a broken shoulder blade, while Staley might be back for the 49ers’ Dec. 14 game against the Cardinals.


–Aside from the opening game in which Isaac Bruce caught a 50-yard pass and had 74 yards receiving on four catches, the vet has not produced much. He has averaged about 25 yards receiving per game and failed to come up with a handful of catchable passes.


Singletary was asked if Bruce is still among the 49ers’ best 11 offensive players.


“Right now, Isaac Bruce is one of the guys that we count on to win,” Singletary answered. “As far getting into is he one of the best 11 and all of those things, I’m going to say that he gives us a chance to win and in certain situations he is one of the best 11 on the field, and in other situations he isn’t.


“That goes for a number of our receivers and I think that we just have to continue to evaluate our team and our talent and this team right now is going through some changes. You’re seeing new guys step up and young guys stepping up and some other guys stepping back and it’s going to continue to be that way. I believe in the best eleven guys on the field and whoever that is, that’s who is going to be out there.”


–Singletary said he was encouraged by the improved play on the right side of the offensive line (Chilo Rachal and Adam Snyder).


–He said linebacker Patrick Willis was able to play faster without the burden of relaying defensive signals to his teammates. Safety Dashon Goldson is now responsible for receiving the radio transmissions and calling the defense in the huddle.


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I’ll be working on the all-53 player review after bedtime tonight. (We’ll see if I agree with Singletary’s assessment of the Rachal and Snyder.)


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