49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

September 30, 2007
Mix-up leads to Smith's injury

I have not yet re-watched today’s 23-3 loss to the Seahawks. I did, however, do a Zapruder job (Back, and to the left. Back, and to the left) on the big hit that Rocky Bernard put on Alex Smith on the third play of the game and it’s clear the problem was the same one that’s been plaguing the 49ers all season: bad communication on the interior of the offensive line. On the play, center Eric Heitmann begins blocking Bernard (and actually grabs his facemask) but then switches off of Bernard to block Lofa Tatupu, who is coming from Heitmann’s right. Heitmann assumes that Larry Allen, who isn’t blocking anyone, will take over on Bernard, but Allen’s too late. Allen gets a hand on Bernard but the big defensive tackle is on Smith in a second, driving his shoulder into the ground. Heitmann and Allen – appropriately, I guess – end up running into each other like a couple of Keystone Cops. I asked Mike Nolan after the game if he might make changes along the offensive line. He responded by saying there were about 25 places on the team he might make changes. It would surprise me, however, if David Baas doesn’t start seeing some action either at center or right guard, where Justin Smiley had three penalties and was responsible for at least one sack.

How long will Smith be out? No one knows right now. He has a separated shoulder, which could keep him out a few days or a few months depending on the severity. He’ll have an MRI today. Trent Dilfer said today he’s suffered 10 separated shoulders and has missed only one start the following week.

This will give you a taste of how antiquated the 49ers’ press box is. I had to go to the bathroom during today’s game and used the injury timeout for Billy Bajema as my opportunity. So I’m in the bathroom, which only has one urinal, and I’m, you know, “going” when the door opens behind me and a guy starts telling me, “Come on! Come on!” in an agitated voice. I, of course, thought it was one of my jackass fellow beatwriters, but when I turned around it was actually defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, who needed to “go” before the defense took the field. The coaches don’t have their own bathrooms and have to share with the lowly reporters. You’ll be happy to know that even in his haste, Manusky washed his hands.

The 49ers had only one injury to report – Smith’s – but as in previous weeks they’ll likely reveal more bumps and bruises by midweek. Bajema’s sprained ankle, after all, allowed me and Greg Manusky to have a bathroom break.
-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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