When Mike Singletary confronted the media Monday, I asked the coach if he felt comfortable with his backup quarterbacks. As is often the case, Singletary gave us more than we expected.
“When you say comfortable, I’ll put it this way,” he said. “I feel good about Alex Smith. I feel very good about where he’s at. I think we have to do a great job of protecting our starting quarterback. When it comes to David Carr, I think David Carr is a guy that I could grow to feel comfortable with. I think he’s a guy that has a good command of the offense. I think he understands, I just think that he’s still thinking a lot and he’s still having to get the rhythm and all the other things, but I think David Carr, I could grow to feel comfortable with him.”
Boiling down the response, it sounded a lot like Singletary saying, “Comfortable with my backups? Let’s just pray Alex Smith doesn’t get hurt.”
Not exactly a rousing vote of confidence for Carr and Nate Davis.
Of course, Singletary had already put Davis on alert eight days earlier, when he verbally battered the second-year QB after what had looked to the rest of the world like a decent performance against the Vikings.
“I think he has to get on the same page and really put himself in the position to really compete,” was one of the things Singletary said of Davis on Aug. 22. “I just think right now that he’s competing against himself, I really do. I really like the kid, there is a lot to like about him, but there is a work ethic that’s involved in terms of being a quarterback in the NFL and he’s got to get it. It’s as simple as that. I’m pulling for him, I’m hoping, but so far it’s inconsistent.”
Local media spent much of the subsequent 48 hours analyzing Singletary’s rebuke, wondering if the coach was truly so down on Davis, or if he was trying to bolster Smith’s confidence and/or keep writers off his back regarding the hierarchy at quarterback.
What was surprising Monday was Singletary’s tepid endorsement of Carr, the respected ninth-year veteran who is in his third stint as an NFL backup after starting for five seasons in Houston.
Later yesterday, Carr did his best to walk a fine line, not contradicting his coach while making it clear he’d be comfortable running the 49ers’ offense should anything happen to Smith.
“I would. I’d be comfortable with everything,” Carr said. “Honestly, if we sit down and we’re in a meeting with Alex, I feel very comfortable with the offense and what they have going on, with the matchups they create, just with Delanie (Walker) and Vernon (Davis) and those guys, just what they can do. … As far as me going forward, I feel extremely confident with what I can do with this offense.”
Carr seemed to think some of the disconnect was caused by the play clock operator at the Oakland Coliseum on Saturday. He and Smith both had trouble getting to the line of scrimmage on time, and Singletary said Monday that referee Peter Morelli apologized to him at halftime for the clock operation. Apparently, it was consistently starting too early, robbing the 49ers of precious time to get a play called.
“You want to get to the line of scrimmage with like 15 seconds,” Carr explained. “Not get the play at 15 seconds or get out of the huddle there. So it’s a tough deal, and when you’re trying to learn it and you got a lot of guys rolling through there, you just try to manage it as best you can.”
Carr insisted that if the clock had been functioning properly in Oakland, his performance against the Raiders – five possessions, 11 points, 7-of-17 passing for a mere 54 yards – might have looked a lot better.
“Yeah, I mean, I would’ve felt like I did the first week, really,” he said, referring to the first preseason game at Indianapolis, where he completed 9 of 11 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown.
“It was just another obstacle, and as a quarterback you’ve got to find a way to overcome it, and kind of get the guys going, you know, make sure you don’t have too many bad plays,” Carr continued. “We did use too many timeouts. For me, I can’t remember a game where I’ve had to use more than one timeout on alignment or an assignment deal. It’s frustrating as a quarterback, because that kind of goes back to you. It’s like your huddle. So that stuff will get cleaned up, I have no doubt.”
Niners fans should hope so. The jury is still out on Smith, and Davis has somehow found himself in Singletary’s doghouse. Would a trusted No. 2 quarterback be too much to ask?