Westbrook: ‘It’s definitely frustrating’

Maybe he’s just reached his breaking point after four weeks of molding on the bench. And perhaps he’s just desperate for a chance to play against his former team. Whatever the reason, backup running back Brian Westbrook, a week after saying he wasn’t frustrated with his minimal playing time, conceded today that it’s been tough to play just four snaps in the season’s first four games.

October 8, 2010
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Safe bet: As Alex goes, so will go the Niners

“I think the quarterback is very important. Do I think he’s the most important? No, I don’t. I think the rules of the NFL, I think there’s certain things that have made the quarterback the most important thing, but once again the thing that I feel is this: If the only way that you could win football games is that you have to have a good quarterback or a great…

October 7, 2010
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Westbrook could emerge from hiding vs. Eagles

Several members of the media were hoping to speak with running back Brian Westbrook today, but he didn’t appear. He was in the exercise room and training room for about 40 minutes while us media hacks loitered in the locker room. Of course, there is an obvious punchline here — something about it being possible that Westbrook, based on the season’s first four games, was, again, really in his undisclosed…

October 7, 2010
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Mays has answered many of Niners’ questions

Last week, Michael Lewis was a 49er. This week, the veteran strong safety is an afterthought, compliments of rookie Taylor Mays. Mays, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound second-round pick, scored a touchdown on a recovered blocked punt in the end zone and had a team-high 11 tackles in his first career start Sunday. On Monday, the Niners granted Lewis his release.

October 6, 2010
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Ginn returns, Walker exits and Singletary doesn’t shake hands

Add Ted Ginn. Subtract Delanie Walker. The Niners hope the formula helps add up to more than 13 points a game, a figure which ranks 31st in the NFL. Walker has been diagnosed with a high ankle sprain and is officially “week to week.” However, he was sporting crutches and a walking boot today. He said he will be off the ankle entirely this week and then see how it’s…

October 6, 2010
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Great start, poor finish and weird press conference

You want the good news first? Sure. Let’s start this blog the way the game started for the Niners offense. The 49ers hadn’t scored a touchdown on their first drive of the game in 19 straight contests dating back to a 27-24 win over the Redskins on Dec. 28, 2008. But that streak ended with a 10-play, 88-yard march in which Mike Johnson showed some nice play-calling chops, dialing up…

October 4, 2010
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Lewis misses practice, status uncertain for Sunday

Another day, another bit of drama for the 49ers. Safety Michael Lewis was not at practice this morning due to what Mike Singletary termed “personal reasons.” Lewis’ absence comes four days after the NFL Network reported that Lewis and linebacker Takeo Spikes would be benched for Sunday’s game against the Falcons. Singletary, who said Wednesday there would be no changes to the starting lineup, said he wasn’t sure if Lewis…

October 1, 2010
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Singletary’s vision for future details Raye’s failures

On the first full day After Jimmy Raye, Mike Singletary had no interest in detailing the shortcomings of his former offensive coordinator on the Murph & Mac Show on KNBR on Tuesday. Raye is gone — it’s time to talk about what the offense is going to do going forward, he said. Funny, but as Singletary spelled out his vision for the offense going forward he was also detailing the…

September 29, 2010
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Bowman looks like another draft gem

NaVorro Bowman got more than five tackles Monday night. He also got some assurance that his talent should be able to cash that fat check he wrote after getting drafted. Bowman, a rookie third-round draft pick, didn’t look like a 22-year-old seeing his first significant NFL playing time when he filled in for an injured Takeo Spikes at inside linebacker against the Saints.

September 23, 2010
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Pregame notes and scattered thoughts

Greetings from Candlestick where I must confess – my one week of NFL beat-writing experience has given me no insight into what will happen tonight. I can easily imagine the Niners looking lost and fragile and reprising their Stinkeroo in Seattle. And I can just as easily imagine them channeling their head coach, looking like a bunch of half-crazed Singletarys and pushing the Saints around.

September 20, 2010
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Non-soap-opera news of the day

There were a few other issues discussed today besides Ratgate, which, I must say, was quite riveting. A sampling of other news: • Singletary remained vague on who will assume Ted Ginn’s kickoff- and punt-return duties. Rookie Phillip Adams seems like the likely candidate to handle the punts after his strong preseason, but Singletary threw out Dominique Zeigler as a possibility. He said Josh Morgan, Delanie Walker and Zeigler were…

September 16, 2010
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Forget the rat, will Niners get plays called on time?

The Niners’ play-calling issues were made painfully evident during Sunday’s 31-6 loss to the Seahawks, two days before a Yahoo! story fleshed out those problems in further detail. So amid the dismissals of the Yahoo’ account today, there was a more important question to answer: Will the Niners futz around forever in the huddle on their first third-and-1 against the Saints?

September 16, 2010
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Niners’ poise missing in punchless defeat

Among Pete Carroll’s favorite mantras – and, goodness, there are plenty of them – is “Always Compete,” a phrase the Seahawks have slapped on T-shirts. And Seattle, which hung in despite looking comically inept on offense for nearly two quarters, lived up to its motto in a 31-6 victory over San Francisco on Sunday. The Niners? The stats suggest they fell apart after the Seahawks took their first lead. Compete?…

September 13, 2010
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Westbrook, Dixon and ‘H from apple butter’

Those eager to see a star-studded two-back set featuring Frank Gore and Brian Westbrook – a duo that’s amassed 17,077 career total yards and 105 TDs – might have to wait until at least Week 2.
Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye indicated Westbrook, who suffered a hamstring injury in the third preseason game and signed in the middle of training camp, is not fully in game shape.

September 9, 2010
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Crabtree takes questions, gets kiss

To put a non-diva spin on it, “media-shy” wide receiver Michael Crabtree spoke with Bay Area reporters today for the first time since Aug. 1, the first day of training camp.
Crabtree, who didn’t play in the preseason due to a neck strain, addressed issues such as his health (100 percent, he said), his conditioning (not worried) and his chemistry with Alex Smith (even better than last year).
Great. That’s out of the way. Let’s get to the soap opera.

September 9, 2010
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Another word on Jason Hill

When I included Jason Hill in my recent rundown of declining stocks in Santa Clara, it ignited a pretty fierce debate.
Hill, a San Francisco native and a fourth-year wide receiver out of Washington State, has his supporters. His speed is undeniable, and it seems a lot of fans have been waiting for him to emerge as the 49ers’ clear No. 3 receiver. I wrote that Hill has been dropping passes lately, and met some skepticism.

August 9, 2010
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McKillop’s knee isn’t 49ers’ only injury concern

The most serious injury sustained during the first five days of the 49ers’ training camp undoubtedly is the torn ACL and patellar tendon suffered by ILB Scott McKillop, a vital special-teams player who is likely to miss the entire 2010 season.
Also troubling, however, has been a rash of concussions.
There probably is no connection among the recent head injuries to LG David Baas, TE Delanie Walker and OLB Travis LaBoy. It’s always tempting to use such occurrences as evidence that a camp is too physical, but really, Mike Singletary’s practices aren’t much different than other coaches’. It’s likely just a string of bad luck, though it demonstrates the NFL’s changing approach to concussions.

August 5, 2010
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