It's hard to believe, but Nate Clements will be making his Monday night debut in three days against the Cardinals. That's right. In six seasons with in Buffalo, the NFL never considered the Bills part of a marquee match-up. So, are you excited, Nate?
"The whole country will be watching, and that's something that's exciting," Clements said.
Considering that the game begins at 10:15 p.m. on the east coast, most of the country might be sound asleep by halftime. But the eyeballs in the Bay Area certainly will be trained on Clements, who will be expected to help stop a Cardinals receiving duo that has tormented the 49ers in previous seasons. Clements said he's only gone against Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald once before - midway through the 2004 season. Does anything stick out from that meeting, Nate?
"Yeah, we won," he said.
Had a nice chat with linebacker Mark Washington, the undrafted free agent who turned some heads this summer and landed on the practice squad. You'd like to think that NFL players are judged on talent and talent alone, but so many times their standings are a result of extenuating circumstances. Washington, for example, is a 250-pound linebacker who played defensive tackle at Texas State. When you play at a small school, Washington said, you play where you're needed, and several injuries along the defensive line meant that he was needed - badly -there. So he did what he was asked.
The fact that he played against guys who outweighed him by 60 or 70 pounds is heroic, but it also meant that scouts had little on which to evaluate him when he entered the supplemental draft in June. Only a handful of teams - including the Giants, Buccaneers and, of course, the 49ers - showed up for his individual pro day. The 49ers told Washington that if they didn't pick him up in the supplemental draft, they would sign him as a free agent, and they were true to their word.
Washington played outside linebacker during training camp, but has recently been moved to middle linebacker. He's playing the "Ted" position behind Derek Smith and Brandon Moore. In fact, he reminds me a lot of Moore, who originally was an undrafted free agent but eventually was able to win a job on the active roster.
Good call by the ever fashion-conscious Mike Nolan to reject the "C" the NFL wants teams to wear on their jerseys this year. After watching the Colts-Saints game last night, I have a one-word assessment of the new trend: Ugs. The NFL obviously is copying the NHL, which allows the team captain to wear a simple "C" and two others to wear an "A" as the alternate captains. But the NFL decided to adorn its C with a bunch of stars, one of which appears yellow, like it's a dead tooth in a row of pearly whites. Way too busy, especially on the Colts uniform, which is notable for being clean, classic and unadorned.
Speaking of fashion, several fans have asked me whether the movement to wear a suit is still a go. As I've said before, I thought it was a great idea when it first surfaced several months ago. Since that time, however, the league has granted Nolan permission to wear his Joseph Abbouds for every home game, which removes the protest element from the movement. Still, if fans want to show support for Nolan by wearing a suit and tie, nothing's stopping them.
And speaking some more of fashion, it turns out it was Joseph Abboud (A.K.A. JA Apparel) that sent Nolan the wrong shirts this week. Nolan opened the box and found shirts with a 20" neck and 37" sleeves. The ultra-fit Nolan has to be the lightest coach in the league and thus his threads are considerably smaller. The shirts that arrived, of course, should have gone to Jacksonville, Fla. They belonged to coach Jack Del Rio. Too bad JA didn't send Nolan Mike Holmgren's duds. The 49ers need something with which to cover the field when it rains.
-- Matt Barrows