The truth is, a win is a win — even against lowly Rams

A word of caution: We don’t really know what today’s game meant, other than it was a victory and we haven’t seen one of those from the 49ers in quite a while. Well, we also know that the 49ers beat a very, very bad football team today at Candlestick Park.

The 49ers took it to the Rams, 35-3, in the first half. Then, they called off the dogs in the second half and slopped their way to a 35-16 victory to break a six-game losing streak.

 

Of course, it’s much too early to say what kind of future interim coach Mike Singletary might have with the 49ers. My suspicion is that he’ll get a chance after the season to present a plan for the organization that will include his thoughts on keeping (or putting together) a coaching staff, as well as his thoughts on maintaining continuity on the offensive side of the ball.

 

But one thing that has become quite apparent is his respect within the locker room. The first three players I spoke with after today’s game – David Baas, Nate Clements and Walt Harris – each mentioned Singletary’s truthfulness. All I did was ask about being able to present Singletary with his first NFL coaching victory, and they all independently brought up that attribute when describing their interim coach.

 

Baas said, “He speaks the truth. We all believe in what he’s saying.”

 

Said Clements, “He spoke the truth, and I take it as motivation for me to improve my game.”

 

Roman was the person in the locker room who presented Singletary with the game ball. Roman said he has no special connection to Singletary, other than he views him as an unselfish person who truly wants his players to succeed.

 

“He would never think about doing it for himself,” Roman said. “He just tells the truth.”

 

Tight end Vernon Davis, who caught his second touchdown pass in two games, even became the first to give him an unconditional vote for the permanent job.

 

“I want coach Singletary around for as long as he wants to be here,” Davis said. “I think he’s a great coach.”

 

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After seeing Singletary handle himself after his first game here at Candlestick three weeks ago, I must admit to thinking that he might be in way over his head.

 

But I thought Singletary handled himself a whole lot better after the game in Arizona – when it would have been easy for him to experience another postgame meltdown. The 49ers’ coaching staff blew it in the final-minute meltdown, but I thought Singletary showed the kind of composure a coach needs in delivering a message after that game.

 

Today, he left another positive impression.

 

Now, the big test is how the 49ers respond when they hit the road for four of their next five games. Singletary said he thinks it’s “outstanding” that the 49ers have to hit the road for difficult games at Dallas, Buffalo, Miami and St. Louis over the next five games.

 

“That’s only going to help us get better,” Singletary said.

 

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Singletary spoke after the game about the importance of finishing the job. The 49ers fell short of a complete performance, as the 49ers were outscored 13-0 in the second half. During one sequence the 49ers had three consecutive false-start penalties.

 

“I wanted to make sure that I told them that I was very, very proud of the fact that they played hard and we won the game,” Singletary said. “But here are some things we need to work on going forward if we’re going to be a great team. So, no, I was not displeased. I just pointed those things out that we have to correct.”

 

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But let us not forget: The 49ers’ three victories this season have come against Seattle, Detroit and St. Louis – teams with a combined 4-26 record. And, heck, one of Seattle‘s victories came against the 49ers, too.

 

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The injury report was minimal. Cornerback Tarell Brown (neck strain) did not return; while running back Michael Robinson (stinger) and safety Michael Lewis (left knee) both returned to action.

 

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And here is the always popular quickie report card:

 

Quarterback

A: Shaun Hill did all his damage in the first half. He threw just two incomplete passes in the first half, and his passer rating was perfect. He threw for two touchdowns and ran another.

 

Running back

C-minus: Frank Gore rushed for 106 yards. But both Gore and DeShaun Foster lost fumbles in the game, and Gore was responsible for both sacks. Michael Robinson had a 36-yard reception to set up one TD, and Foster added a 31-yard grab.

 

Receiver

B: Bryant Johnson had a solid day with four catches for 56 yards. He and Vernon Davis caught short touchdown passes. Jason Hill did another fine job with three catches for 33 yards.

 

Offensive line

A-minus: The line thoroughly dominated the Rams’ defensive front in the first half. There were good games throughout, including rookie Chilo Rachal, who shared time with right guard Tony Wragge.

 

Defensive line

B: The line generally did a good job. Other than a couple big plays in the run game in which the Rams caught the 49ers in shifts, they line pretty much had its way with the Rams’ banged-up offensive front.

 

Linebacker

B: Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes both broke up passes. Willis made an exceptional play to keep a pass to Kenneth Darby from going for a first down on a third-and-2 in the first half.

 

Secondary

A-minus: Nate Clements and Walt Harris recorded interceptions with nice returns on back-to-back possessions, leading to touchdowns. Harris and Michael Lewis added sacks. Mark Roman had a big hit to force an incomplete pass.

 

Special teams

B: Allen Rossum did nice job in the return game, giving the 49ers good field position. Andy Lee had a solid game with a 51.8-yard average (45.3 net) on six punts.

 

Coaching/overall

B-plus: The grade would be an A-plus if the game ended at halftime. The 49ers did not score a point in the second half. But they got all they needed with a 28-point outburst in the second quarter to supply coach Mike Singletary with his first victory.

 

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Notes and quotes from the 49ers’ PR staff

 

*The 49ers were leading 35-3 at halftime. The 49ers 35 first half points are the most they have scored in the first half since the 49ers scored 42 points vs. Atlanta (10-18-92), which is the most points they ever scored in a half.

 

*The 35-3 halftime lead was the 49ers largest since they took a 34-0 lead into the half vs. Arizona (12-7-03) in a 50-14 win.

 

*The 49ers had a 28-point second quarter to match the team record for most points scored in one quarter. The team has scored 28 points in a quarter five other times. It is the first 28-point quarter since the 49ers scored 28 points in the fourth quarter vs. Chicago (12-23-91) in a 52-14 win.

 

*QB Shaun Hill had the longest pass completion of his career when he connected with WR Bryant Johnson for a 42-yard gain in the second quarter. His previous best was a 31-yard touchdown pass to WR Josh Morgan at Arizona last Monday night (11-10-08).

 

*Hill became the first 49ers starting QB to post a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in the first half. The previous best was Steve Young’s 156.5 rating vs. New Orleans (9-14-97).

 

*Hill’s 192 yards in the first half are the most by a 49ers quarterback since Jeff Garcia threw for 221 first half yards against Arizona (12-7-03).

 

*RB Frank Gore recorded his 15th NFL 100-yard game and his third of the season with 106 yards on 18 carries. He had 130 yards rushing vs. Detroit (9-21) and 101 vs. Philadelphia (10-12) earlier this season.

 

*The 49ers are now 11-4 when Gore has at least 100 yards rushing in a game.

 

*Gore became the first 49ers running back to rush for two first half touchdowns since Kevan Barlow scored two touchdowns vs. Carolina (11-14-04).

 

*Gore rushed for two touchdowns for the sixth time in his career. It was his first two-touchdown performance since he had two at Arizona (11-25-07).

 

*Gore had a 37-yard run in the first quarter. That run is Gore’s second longest of the year to a 41-yard touchdown run he had in the season-opener vs. Arizona (9-7).

 

*Gore entered the game with 728 yards rushing and added 106 for a season total of 834 rushing yards. He is on pace for 1,334 yards. He needs 166 more rushing yards to become the first 49ers player ever to have three consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

 

*Gore now has 4,239 yards rushing as a member of the 49ers and needs 50 yards to move past Hall of Fame RB Hugh McElhenny into sixth place on the 49ers all-time rushing list.

 

*Newly acquired TE Sean Ryan played in his first game with the 49ers. Ryan has played in three games so far in 2008 and all three games have been with a different team. He played in one game with Miami and one game with New Orleans before joining San Francisco.

 

*LB Patrick Willis entered the game with a team-leading 108 total tackles and added eight to give him 116 for the year. He is on pace to finish with 186 total tackles.

 

*KR Allen Rossum is averaging 27.9 yards per kickoff return. He is on pace to finish with a career year. His best average of 25.8 during his third NFL season in 2000 with Green Bay.

 

*Rossum is averaging 16.9 yards per punt return. He is on pace for best his best season in that category as well. His best season so far was a 14.0 average in 2003 with Atlanta.

 

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49ers Head Coach Mike Singletary

Q: Is that the kind of effort you are looking for in the first half?

Singletary: “The first half: I thought we did a decent job in the first half. We talked about coming out and starting fast, executing, doing the things we need to do in order to win the game. So we were very excited about what happened in the first half. We came in at halftime and we talked about going out and finishing what we started in that first half.”

 

Q: What does that mean: finishing?

Singletary: “Finishing meant that at some point in time the offensive line, when we’re backed up, that we could put it in their hands and they drive it out. Finishing means that we don’t jump offside two, three, four times in a row. Finishing means that we don’t walk off the field. We jog off the field. Finishing means that however we started the game, we need to end the game stronger than we started. That’s finishing.”

 

Q: You mentioned a bunch of things you guys didn’t do. Are you displeased?

Singletary: “No, I wouldn’t use the word displeased. I told the guys before one of the things I didn’t do when I played was focus on what we didn’t do well. So I wanted to make sure that I told them that I was very, very proud of the fact that they played hard and we won the game. But here’s some things we need to work on going forward if we’re going to be a great team. So, no, I was not displeased. I just pointed those things out that we have to correct.”

 

Q: Can you give your evaluation of Shaun Hill’s performance?

Singletary: “I thought the first half was outstanding. Once again, I thought he did a great job. For the most part in the second half I thought he did a pretty decent job. And then some things started to break down a bit, not all his fault. But we just have to continue to work on it: offensive line, running back, everybody. And we’ll do that.”

 

Q: The defense in the first half, especially with the turnovers, how important was that?

Singletary: “It was really important going into the game that we really handled their vertical game well. Of course they got some runs early which shocked me a bit. I talked to Greg [Manusky] about it and we weren’t getting moved quick enough. We would slant one way and they’d adjust and we would not. And guys were getting caught in the slide and getting cut off, and it caused us to get gashed so that made sense, and we corrected that going into the second half. But there were a lot of good things that happened in this game. A lot of positives to come out with and continue to work on, work forward with.”

 

Q: In this league historically it’s often tough for teams to play on Monday night and come back on Sunday, especially after something like what you guys had Monday night. What did you do to get prepared for this?

Singletary: “I wish I could take the credit for that. We just have really good coaches and some really good players. We really do. We talked about mental toughness throughout the week and being able to put a devastating loss behind you and not look in the rearview mirror and have a wreck this Sunday. So that was the biggest thing that we focused on and they really pushed hard, pushed through it and it came out today and I thought they did a good job being focused for the most part.”

 

Q: Is this more what Mike Singletary’s team looks like?

Singletary: “I would just say this: I think that’s what we did when we came out and we started fast, we were executing, we were doing the little things that we needed to do, we were getting turnovers, we were making sure that we protected the ball. All of those things are things that the 49ers…that’s what we want to do going forward. The thing that I talked about a lot this week was this not being Mike Singletary’s team. This is our team. And if we don’t understand that then Mike Singletary’s going to come up really short.”

 

Q: It might not be Mike Singletary’s team but this is Mike Singletary’s first win as a head coach. How does it feel standing up there?

Singletary: “I’m very humbled by it. My mom and my dad passed away in the last four years. Dad last year. Mom about four years ago. And I just thought about them and if they could see that. But I’m very thankful and very proud of that, more so for the guys than for myself because they deserve it. They’ve been working their tails off. I’m telling you they’ve been working their tails off and doing a lot of things right. I’m really excited about them. But going forward it has to be all of us. It has to be the coordinators. It has to be the position coaches. It has to be the quarterback. It has to be the defensive line. It has to be every one of us in order to get out of this thing what we want to get out of it.”

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