Nolan: Niners’ No. 3 QB status is up in the air

Coach Mike Nolan held his day-after-game press conference in the team’s defensive meeting room.


Coach Mike Nolan held his day-after-game press conference in the team’s defensive meeting room. I scribbled down some notes, while also brushing away a line of ants that was marching along edge of the table in front of me:

–Everybody has all the information about Alex Smith’s shoulder, but no decision has been reached as to the course of action. Smith could undergo season-ending surgery to repair the fracture, which is the result of a non-contact injury.

–Nolan said he and Smith have spoken a lot about his condition. Nolan said Alex is very disappointed with his shoulder situation. “At the same time, I don’t think he’s aware of what the next step will be for him or us. We’ll see.”

–The 49ers have talked about a bunch of different players who could come to the team, including long-time Rams backup Jamie Martin and camp arm Kyle Wright. Nolan said he and GM Scot McCloughan have tossed around a whole bunch of names.

“Depends on what the short term and the long term is,” Nolan said. “Is it four weeks, six weeks, eight weeks, 10 weeks? Those all make a difference to what we’d do.”

–The 49ers had the edge in a lot of the stats from Sunday’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals. But Nolan said the only stat that matters is winning, “and we didn’t win.”

–I asked if the 49ers made a conscious effort to take away the Cardinals’ deep passes while allowing them to complete passes underneath.

“They’re a big play offense, that’s one of their MOs,” Nolan said. “I thought the secondary did a good job on (Larry) Fitzgerald, but that was not our goal to give them anything underneath. We typically play a lot of man, so it’s tight coverage. There are certain situations they created, certain formations that they’ve done in the past, and we didn’t execute as well underneath in the second half to get off the field.”

–What did they do to create that Donald Strickland-Anquan Boldin matchup?

“For one, they had 40 opportunities in the second half,” Nolan said, “so they had opportunities to do a lot of things. But we weren’t afraid of the Boldin-Strickland thing. In fact, (Strickland) is a damn-good competitor and, from our standpoint, matches up very well from a competitive standpoint. They out-executed. He got flagged on the one. But it wasn’t all on (Strickland). It was a matter of playing the defense.”

Nolan said they switched up their coverages quite a bit in the game.

–On J.T. O’Sullivan’s fumbles: “The last one at the end of the game was primarily his. The first one was more a case of the protection. He did throw the interception, but again it wasn’t all on his shoulders. The route (Arnaz Battle) could’ve been run better as well. As far as his efforts in the game, I thought they were good. His awareness of where the outlets were was good. I thought he delivered the ball down field several times.”

–The 49ers won the season opener a year ago but the earmarks of their bad season were apparent. This time, they showed a little something on offense but were sabotaged by the five turnovers.

“We’re going to be a better football team than we were last year,” Nolan said. “I believe we already are. We’re 0-1, as opposed to 1-0 last year. We were 2-0 last year. But we had our issues. I’m excited about the prospects of this football team. But it is about winning, so it’s difficult to get too excited when you’re 0-1.”

–Justin Smith played all 73 defensive snaps, Nolan said. He estimated that the team played about 25 percent of its defensive snaps in a 3-4.

–With :10 remaining in the first half and the Cardinals set to punt from their own 18, Nolan told punt returner Allen Rossum to stand at midfield. If the ball was at midfield or shorter, he wanted Rossum to fair catch the ball to set up a free kick for Joe Nedney. If it was over Rossum’s head, he wanted him to just let it go. Rossum ended up calling for a fair catch at the 49ers’ 34. If he had it to do over again, Nolan said he would’ve allowed Rossum and Nate Clements (who was also back deep) to run one of their reverses to try to make a big play on the final play of the half.

–The 49ers called a timeout on defense late in the first quarter with the Cardinals facing a third-and-6 from the 49ers’ 29. Nolan said the timeout was called because there was an issue with the team’s headsets and he wanted to make sure that the team had the correct defensive call. Parys Haralson and Justin Smith combined on the sack after the timeout to take the Cardinals out of field-goal range.

–The only reported injury from yesterday’s game is C Eric Heitmann. He sustained an AC joint sprain, got an injection and returned to the game after missing one series.

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This is from my own stats. Here are the offensive plays from each of the 49ers’ skill players who saw action (the 49ers ran 44 plays): Isaac Bruce 42, Frank Gore 36, Bryant Johnson 34, Vernon Davis 34, Zak Keasey 20, Arnaz Battle 18, Billy Bajema 10, Josh Morgan 9, DeShaun Foster 8, Delanie Walker 6.

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