How are you? Singletary: I’ve got to look at the film

After his team’s latest loss, this one at the hands of a zero-win team with an invisible offense, Mike Singletary was asked a fair question: Are the 49ers just not very good? He responded in typical fashion. His voice was strong and authoritative. And he continue to envision a future only perhaps the most optimistic — delusional, if you’d rather — Niners fan can still see. “I still believe we…

October 24, 2010
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Good morning from Charlotte

Greetings from Charlotte, a place where the front desk, wake-up-call lady calls you “honey.” I thought that was a nice touch. Interestingly, I never did get a wake-up call, but why worry about such a triviality in such a nice place? The taxi driver, who said he’s lived in Charlotte for 20 years, also got lost on the 10-mile hotel-to-stadium journey. No worries. He was also unusually pleasant. (By the…

October 24, 2010
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Kickers to reconnect and, um, Groin Gate

Due to the nature of their position, many NFL placekickers share a certain bond. And given that the 49ers Joe Nedney, 37, and Carolina’s John Kasay, 40, have a combined 35 years of NFL experience, it’s not surprising their relationship is more unique than most. In 2000, Kasay suffered a horrific injury during a training-camp practice when he broke his left kneecap. The bone in kicking knee, which ACL surgery…

October 22, 2010
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Move the chains: Niners converting under new OC

Jimmy Raye was the 49ers offensive coordinator during this season’s first three games. The Niners converted 10 of 41 third downs under Raye. That is 24 percent. Not too good. Mike Johnson has been the 49ers offensive coordinator the past three games. The Niners have converted 21 of 42 first downs under Johnson. That is 50 percent. Very good. Raye, presumably, was fired because he wasn’t doing too hot at…

October 21, 2010
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Gore needs rest … at some point

Where’s Brian Westbrook? Today we received the most definitive answer of the season: He’s in Frank Gore’s all-consuming shadow. Offensive coordinator Mike Johnson said Gore never wants to come off the field. No real news there. But Johnson also acknowledged that Gore’s versatility — particularly his unparalleled brilliance in picking up blitzes — has made the coaching staff view him as the NFL’s most dynamic security blanket. “It’s a comfort…

October 21, 2010
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Willis admits to early season frustration

Remember when Patrick Willis laid out Reggie Bush on that screen pass in Week 2? Of course you do. That was a classic oh-my-gosh-did-you-see-that Willis moment, the type that have many already ticketing the 25-year-old three-time Pro Bowler for Canton. Now, do you remember another similar highlight-reel play from Willis this season? It’s OK if you’re still thinking. It sure seems like there haven’t been too many.

October 20, 2010
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Even180-pound Ginn against NFL’s new policy

No surprise. Linebacker Patrick Willis and safety Dashon Goldson, a pair of ferocious hitters, said today that they aren’t thrilled about the NFL’s vow to begin suspending players for illegal hits. But what about wide receiver Ted Ginn? The 49ers’ 180-pound string bean is just the type of player the NFL is trying to protect. On Tuesday, three defensive players — Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison, Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson and…

October 20, 2010
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New gunner hits and misfires in debut

As the special-teams gunner in San Diego, C.J. Spillman was part of coverage units that allowed a punt return for a touchdown, two kickoff returns for scores and a 43-yard punt return in the season’s first five games. Not acceptable. Spillman was cut on Oct. 11. Signed by the Niners five days before the Raiders game, the 6-foot, 199-pound Spillman flashed both his potential and his penchant for missed tackles…

October 19, 2010
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Credit Singletary for Crabtree’s turnaround?

You’ve probably heard the explanations for Michael Crabtree’s dramatic turnaround after his forgettable first three games. He’s fully healthy after missing much of training camp and all four exhibition games with a strained neck. He’s developed better chemistry with Alex Smith, a connection that suffered due to Crabtree’s injury. He’s benefited from new offensive coordinator Mike Johnson, who has made a concerted effort to involve all of the Niners’ playmakers.

October 19, 2010
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Less sideline counsel would be fine with Smith

At one point during the first half of Sunday’s game, Mike Singletary stopped Alex Smith as he came off the field and had a few words for his quarterback. It’s not known what, if anything, Smith said in return. But now we have a better idea of what Smith might have been thinking as Singletary spoke.

October 18, 2010
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Forget spread, Niners roll out sledgehammer

The 49ers have been promising some new offensive wrinkles, but who saw this one coming? On San Francisco’s final drive in Sunday’s 17-9 victory over the Raiders, the Niners introduced 330-pound defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga to the offensive huddle. Sopoaga was in for two plays — and he finished with a flourish by belting defensive end Trevor Scott to help spring Frank Gore for three yards on a game-clinching third-and-2…

October 18, 2010
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First victory isn’t a beauty

At 0-5, style points don’t matter. And neither does the opponent. Good thing for the Niners, whose 17-9 win over the hapless Raiders wasn’t overly artistic and didn’t offer compelling evidence that they can back up Jed York’s guarantee. Still, an ugly win is an ugly win is an ugly win. A look inside this ugly win:

October 18, 2010
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Lights Out, Broadway Joe and a live blog

Greetings from rain-soaked Candlestick. No sunscreen necessary here today. The forecast is calling for showers throughout the game. Maybe that attacking offense will have to wait? I’ll post some postgame notes here leading up until kickoff. I’ll also be living blogging during the game.

October 17, 2010
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Update: Smith + Crabtree = 39.9

Last week, Michael Crabtree had the best performance of his 16-game career. This week? The Niners’ second-year wide receiver might have a decent chance to top it. Crabtree, who had career highs in receptions (9) and yards (105) against the Eagles, faces an Oakland secondary Phillip Rivers torched for 431 yards in the Raiders’ 35-27 win over the Chargers last week.

October 15, 2010
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Third down no longer The Play Before The Punt

That sideline screaming and, oh, yes, another loss helped obscure a significant fact Sunday night. The 49ers’ offense, by various measures, appears to be making strides under offensive coordinator Mike Johnson. In its 27-24 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco scored its most points of the season, had three touchdowns in three trips inside the red zone, had two 100-yard receivers for the first time in 10 years and…

October 14, 2010
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Carr on Smith’s booing: ‘It was pretty hostile’

David Carr has plenty in common with Alex Smith. He was also a No. 1 overall pick who was thrown to the wolves as a rookie and, after failing to meet expectations for several seasons, was treated harshly by the hometown fans in Houston. Still, Carr, for all his battle scars, says he’s never been subjected to anything like the treatment Smith received at Candlestick Park on Sunday night.

October 13, 2010
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What’s up with the Niners’ best player?

With all the other issues surrounding the Niners, it’s been easy to overlook something that should be impossible to miss. Their all-world middle linebacker — one of their most visible players — hasn’t been quite so visible recently. Patrick Willis, who entered the season with 22 10-tackle games in his 48-game career, has just one double-digit tackle game this season and is on pace for 131 tackles — 21 fewer…

October 13, 2010
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New OC, but Singletary’s fingerprints still on offense

Warning: Do not continue reading if you are drowsy. The following list chronicles the Niners’ first offensive plays of the game during the 2010 season: Week 1: Frank Gore up the middle to SEA 25 for 4 yards. Week 2: Frank Gore up the middle to SF 11 for 1 yard. Week 3: Frank Gore up the middle to SF 18 for 5 yards. Week 4: Frank Gore up the…

October 13, 2010
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