Earlier this year, Seattle coach Mike Holmgren was asked by a Fox Sports reporter about the fact that the 49ers swept his team last season. Holmgren's response in the story: "I guarantee that won't happen this season." The 49ers say they aren't making a big deal about the comment, but it's not like they're ignoring it, either. Both Mike Nolan and Alex Smith said today they'd heard or read about the quote. "We'll see," Smith said in response to the guarantee.
Holmgren, however, insists he didn't make it. "Does that sound like something I'd say?" he asked on today's conference call. Ok, then, what did he say? "'That can't happen again,' is, I believe, the direct quote."
Newcomer Michael "Beer Man" Lewis turns 36 on Nov. 14, making him the oldest 49er. (Larry Allen will celebrate his 36th birthday 13 days later). But Lewis noted that in "football years" he is still a young man. After all, he played only one year in high school and not at all in college. In fact, he didn't start playing in the NFL until the ripe old age of 29. Lewis had a workout two weeks with the 49ers, and Brandon Williams' lackluster performances against St. Louis and Pittsburgh likely convinced the 49ers coaching staff to make the switch. Lewis said his health is "great" and that he thought he could play until he's 40. He also said he would return kicks if the 49ers asked him, but for now they want him to concentrate on punt returns.
Speaking of Michael Lewis, there are now two Michael Lewises on the team. How would the equipment staff have handled that situation in the past? "By using the smallest font possible," equipment manager Steve Urbaniak said, and using the first initial of their middle names. Ah, but there's been a rule change this season. In the past, players who share their last name with a teammate used the initial of their first name to distinguish themselves. Alex Smith was A. Smith, for example. This year, the league decided that the player's number is enough of a distinguishing characteristic. It's a good thing, too. In addition to having three Lewises, the 49ers have two Hills, three Smiths (one is on the practice squad), two Moores and two Harrises.
Nolan said today that the team was planning to increase rookie receiver Jason Hill's role last week when Hill suffered a hamstring injury. Nolan said the plan would be on hold until Hill's injury heals.
Kudos to John from Sante Fe for pointing out that receivers no longer are required to make a "football move" in order to be awarded a catch. That was one of the league's offseason changes, although referee Gerry Austin apparently didn't get the memo. "You have to get two feet clearly down and make another football move," Austin explained after the game in regard to Vernon Davis "incompletion" in the third quarter. Receivers now have to get two feet down (which Davis clearly did) and maintain possession of the ball.
Rookies Tarell Bown and Jason Hill both have hamstring pulls and did not practice. Safety Mark Roman has an elbow injury but might practice tomorrow. Larry Allen and Bryant Young never are required to practice on Wednesdays. Neither is Walt Harris, although he went through a limited practice anyway.
Jonas Jennings suffered a leg injury -- later described as a leg strain -- during practice and did not return. Jennings sat on a cart for several minutes but was never driven into the lockerroom. He walked gingerly back to the practice field and watched the remainder of the session from the sideline. He will be re-evaluated Thursday. If Jennings' injury is serious, Adam Snyder likely would replace him in the starting lineup. Kwame Harris also has been getting repetitions at left tackle. ... In other news, Manny Lawson had surgery Wednesday to repair his ACL tear.
-- Matt Barrows