Singletary discusses offense and questionable officiating

There’s plenty to discuss from the 49ers’ loss yesterday to the Seahawks, and coach Mike Singletary had a lot of explaining to do during his Monday press conference.


Afterward, Seattle coach Jim Mora intimated that it worked to the Seahawks’ advantage that the 49ers leaned so heavily on the pass and got away quickly from giving the football to running back Frank Gore.


“I think there were several advantages in this game for Jim Mora, but I won’t even address those,” Singletary said.


(Singletary later did address it. He was referring to the officiating. More on that later.)


Why did the 49ers call 26 passes and four run plays in the first half? A lot of it was dictated by the Seahawks’ decision to play their base defense when the 49ers had tight end Delanie Walker on the field, along with Vernon Davis.


In fact, there were several plays that were called run plays in the huddle that Smith changed to pass plays as part of the rules of Jimmy Raye’s offense. Smith estimated that he changed a handful of plays.


“Some plays were running plays at the beginning of the game but because of what they had on the field, we audibled to a pass because it didn’t make sense to run the play that we had,” Singletary said.


“Going into a game a balance is what you’re looking for, but at the same time if your quarterback is given certain parameters . . . if we’re in two backs, two wideouts and one tight end, and they come out and they have nickel, we will run the ball. I think they were more focused on the run because of what happened last time. That made them more vulnerable against the pass.”


–The sequence at the end was ripe for a lot of second-guessing. On a third-and-3, Smith attempted a deep pass to Josh Morgan that was nearly intercepted. The 49ers had to punt, and the Seahawks took over with :21 remaining, and had enough time to win the game.


“Once again, you look for better calls after the calls were made. If we made the plays, we’re not talking about the calls. I wish they would’ve worked,” Singletary said.


Here’s what happened, according to Smith: The Seahawks on first and second downs, rushed three and dropped eight into coverage. The 49ers were expecting a similar look on third down, but when the Seahawks sent five and played man coverage, the routes adjusted so that nobody was available underneath. Smith said this is the one that he wishes he could’ve had back. He possibly could’ve gotten the ball to Vernon Davis down the field.


–I asked Singletary if he’s comfortable with Jimmy Raye as offensive coordinator, and Singletary left no room for interpretation.


“Absolutely. I think Jimmy has adapted, adjusted. I think he’s gone 180 (degrees), 360, I mean anything I’ve asked him to do, he’s been more than willing to do,” Singletary said. “I think he’s done a fine job. I think Alex has adjusted to him well. I think he and Alex are on the same page. He and Alex, (quarterbacks coach) Mike Johnson, all the guys are on the same page and it looked that way yesterday.”


Then, I asked a couple questions about Johnson. Does Johnson have a big role in game planning?


“Mike Johnson and Jimmy Raye continue to develop the relationship,” Singletary said. “There’s a synergy there, there’s a flow there. They spend a lot of time talking. And Alex Smith is also part of some of that conversation.”


Is the long-term plan to eventually move Johnson into that the role of offensive coordinator?


“I want to talk about the short term plan and stay focused on that before I talk about the long term plan,” Singletary said.


–As for Alex Smith, Singletary said he is not ready to anoint him as the starter into 2010 and beyond. “What he’s doing is so far, so good. I don’t want to jump the gun,” he said.


–Yes, the 49ers were upset with the officiating. Singletary said referee Alberto Riveron did not follow the accepted protocol of giving the 49ers’ defense proper time to make personnel adjustments after Seattle‘s offense made changes in the huddle.


“That’s an unfair advantage. You can’t do that,” Singletary said. “Some referees do a better job than others of handling that.”


–Singletary was asked about some of the questionable calls and whether the 49ers would be in communication with the league office.


“Every week we send a letter to the league about different calls that were made or not made in a game,” Singletary said. “This week, there will be several paragraphs that will be going to the league.”


Is there one that upset him more than the others?


“There were many,” Singletary said.


Singletary continued . . .


“Obviously, there were bad calls made and in every game there are bad calls made. Yesterday, for me, it was just . . . there were a few more than I have witnessed maybe since I’ve been in the league.


“And I just want to make sure our players, coaches, staff, fans, everybody involved with the 49ers, everybody that cares about the 49ers, I want them to understand this is not about the referees. They didn’t fumble the ball. They didn’t throw interceptions. They didn’t make bad plays. We did. So I don’t want to put this on the referees. I certainly feel some of those calls were questionable, but if we had done what we’re supposed to do, we overcome that and we win the football game.”


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The 49ers made some questionable calls themselves – such as the decision to use a reverse on a punt return in the first quarter.


Arnaz Battle caught the punt, stumbled and then Brandon Jones could not secure the handoff. The ball rolled free, and Seattle recovered at the SF 13. Up to that point, the 49ers had outgained Seattle 77 to negative-6 in total offense. The Seahawks scored a touchdown three plays later to tie the game 7-7.


“It was bad communication and it was on my behalf,” Singletary said. He said he should have told special-teams coordinator Al Everest that it was not the time or the place for trickery.


“The miscommunication was we worked on it on practice, therefore we’re going to do it in a game,” Singletary said. “It was my fault for not articulating we might do it in a game and we’re not for sure going to do it in a game.”


–Veteran cornerback Keith Smith, whom the club signed after Nate Clements was injured Nov. 1, was on the field because of injuries and because he helped the 49ers match up better against the Seahawks’ multi-receiver sets.


“We needed to match up. And really did a pretty decent job,” Singletary said.


Smith entered in place of safety Michael Lewis. Smith was in coverage when Deon Butler caught a 32-yard pass late in the game that set up the Seahawks’ winning score.


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Left tackle Joe Staley hopes to practice this week and be in the lineup Monday night against the Arizona Cardinals. He has been out since Nov. 1 with a knee injury.


“I’m going to be smart about it and be honest about it,” Staley said.


“I’m happy Barry (Sims) is doing really well,” Staley said. “But I want to be the guy. I have that selfish nature.”


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Here’s my game story from Seattle’s 20-17 victory over the 49ers, as well as the 49ers’ report card that I filed immediately after the game.


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