Niners tried to go deep, line wouldn’t let them

After watching Sunday’s game it was fair to wonder if the Niners had any deep passes in their playbook.

Of Alex Smith’s 45 pass attempts, 38 were described as “short,” on the official play-by-play.

The good news? The 49ers wanted to chuck more balls downfield. The bad news? Their leaky offensive line didn’t let them.

The Niners allowed just two sacks Sunday, but Smith was hit on 11
occasions. Left guard Mike Iupati and right tackle Anthony Davis were
making their first NFL starts, converted guard David Baas was making his
first start at center and right guard Chilo Rachal missed the second
half with a shoulder stinger.

“It wasn’t really based on the play-calling because we had some
down-the-field plays where we could have had some big shots and some big
gains,” wide receiver Josh Morgan said. “But Alex got the pressure and
he had to roll out and it turned into a scramble drill. Things like that
just happen during games. Of course, as receivers, we want the deep
ball and 80-yard bombs. But we’ve got to get the protection right and
give Alex time to throw. We just had some miscues. We’ve got to execute

Singletary reportedly aired out the offensive line in the postgame
locker room. Five days later, Baas was unwillingly to discuss the
offensive line’s performance.

“You know, I’m not going to mention anything about that,” Baas said.
“You can ask (offensive line coach Mike) Solari or Singletary. Sorry,
I’m not going to grade out the offensive line.”

• Niners defensive coordinator Greg Manusky was the linebackers coach
with the Chargers when Saints quarterback Drew Brees played in San
Diego. And Manusky made it obvious how much he admires and respects
Brees, who he referred to as “Breezy.”

But Manusky’s affection for good old “Breezy” only extends so far.
Speaking of his defense against Brees, Manusky said, “I’d like to hit
the crap out of him. I’d love to.”

• Niners fans might have felt mildly nauseous after seeing LB Patrick
Willis appear on Thursday’s injury report with thumb and knee injuries.
Willis was limited in practice, but Manusky said it was part of a plan
to keep Willis fresh throughout the season.

“Pat’s a physical player, goes out there and gives it his all,” Manusky
said. “Just protecting him a little bit. Sometimes it’s good for Pat to
watch instead of do it sometimes.”

• The return of Ahmad Brooks from a lacerated kidney likely means an
outside linebacker will be inactive Monday. The group includes Brooks,
Manny Lawson, Parys Haralson, Travis LaBoy and Diyral Briggs. Asked if
Briggs would sit out, Manusky said, “Right now I have not spoken to
(Singletary) about that. So, we’ll find out about that here tomorrow or
the next day.”

• A day after leveling Brooks during a ball-security drill, leading to
as brief scuffle, CB Shawntae Spencer said there were no hard feelings.
The 190-pound Spencer, who weighs about 70 pounds less than Brooks, said
he was surprised he was able to get his buddy airborne.

“I was trying to strip the ball and got my shoulder in,” he said. “I was
surprised that he flew the way he did, with me being a small guy. But,
no, it wasn’t nothing personal or nothing like that. Me and Ahmad, right
after that happened, when we got done with the drill, we hugged. That’s
my man.”

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