Alex Smith will re-enter the starting lineup on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, coach Mike Singletary said. In explaining his decision, Singletary said Shaun Hill gave the 49ers their best chance to win early in the season, but the team’s best hope is with Smith at quarterback.
Here’s what Singletary had to say during his Monday press conference:
–“I wanted to make a decision based upon who I feel gives us the best chance to win. And I think Shaun Hill at the beginning of the season . . . (Now) I feel Alex Smith gives us the best chance to win, to use the tools we have going forward.”
–“Alex has had a chance to regain some of the confidence, not that he ever lost it, it just gives him a chance to settle in. Having watched Shaun Hill, and there’s something about watching a guy and looking at some of the mistakes he’s made and how you’d do it differently. Looking at some of the things he does well and implementing those things in your game . . . learning the offense a little more. Develop that hunger and develop hunger and excitement.”
–If the 49ers had put Smith in the starting lineup at the beginning of the season . . . “and you don’t have success right away, then it’s ‘Same old Alex.’ Well, I don’t think it’s the same old Alex. I think Alex has matured, I think he’s grown, and I think he’s ready to play. And we’re going to find out. We’ll find out next week.”
–Singletary was asked if Smith’s style, his ability to get the ball down the field is what the 49ers need: “Right now, overall, I think Alex Smith really just kind of fit the bill, in terms of doing the things we need to get done.”
–He reiterated that he never said he wants to be “3 yards and a cloud of dust.” He did say he wants a team that can run the ball when they need to run the ball. So why haven’t the 49ers been able to run the ball?
“Because they normally have about 8 ½ people in the box – sometimes nine,” Singletary said. “Sometimes it makes it a little more difficult when you have an offensive line that’s been banged up and trying to get that right. It makes for not a good combination. As we build confidence and continue to get better, it will work itself out.”
–Tackle Tony Pashos (left shoulder contusion) and linebacker Takeo Spikes (right shoulder strain) are scheduled for MRI examination to determine the extent of their injuries. Those appear the most serious of the injuries reported following yesterday’s game. The other injuries were: DT Aubrayo Franklin (right knee), DE Justin Smith (left calf strain) and LB Marques Harris (hamstring strain).
–Singletary said if Pashos can’t play, “we’ll work it out.” We’ll have to take a look and see.”
–At right guard, Singletary said they have to continue to help Chilo Rachal. One of the issues, Singletary said, is some guys are trying to be perfect and play mistake-free. “And when you do that, you become robotic and it takes you out of your game. I just want guys to go out and play.
“There are some things he does very well. But there’s on particular stunt that really gets him at times, and we have to continue to work on that and show him that in practice and allow him to work on it.”
–Defensively, Singletary said he is continuing to look at the film and make some evaluations. He said he’ll have to make some personnel decisions on defense.
–Singletary was asked if there’s been any thought to some day moving Nate Clements to safety. His answer: “That’s not in the realm of thinking right now.”
–Singletary’s biggest concern on defense is communication. “We’ll get that solved this week. We’ll get that solved today, as a matter of fact.
Singletary said it’s a matter of getting the guys in the huddle to understand who’s talking and who’s not. Up to this point, middle linebacker Patrick Willis has been relaying the information from the sideline with the radio in his helmet.
“When I look at our defense, we’re a good defense with the opportunity to be a great defense,” Singletary said. “But right now, because of the communication factor, particularly in the last couple games and because of the way those games have gone, you got guys starting to do their own thing. That’s when you really have to communicate very, very well. We just have to get on one page and relax and settle down.”
–Finally, Singletary was asked about Michael Crabtree’s performance.
“It was very evident yesterday,” Singletary said. “I just wanted to see it on film just like you see a good movie. You want to see it again.
“All of the hard work he did when he wasn’t here, it showed. All of the studying he did when he wasn’t here, it showed. So it was good to see.”
Crabtree was on the field for 48 of the team’s 54 offensive snaps. Josh Morgan played 38 snaps, while Isaac Bruce played 36.
“He told me how much he was working. And I heard from some other sources outside the building how hard he was working and the route-running he was doing everyday,” Singletary said. “I knew he wasn’t in football shape, but if he was doing what they were telling me he was doing and what they saw he was doing, then I knew he was going to be in pretty good shape.
“I guess I was just a little bit surprised that he was able to go all those plays. But I thought for sure 30-40 plays. But to basically go the whole game, that was pretty impressive.”
* * *