When I was in Mobile, Ala. for the Senior Bowl, Mike Singletary told me he didn't want to talk to me or anyone else that week and that he'd get a hold of me at a future date. That date was today. Singletary, true to his word, called at noon and said he had a few minutes to talk.
One of the players I've been wondering about is receiver Isaac Bruce, who led the team this past season with 835 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Bruce, who turned 36 in November, came to the 49ers last season because his former coach in St. Louis, Mike Martz, was running the offense. With Martz out as offensive coordinator, would Bruce want to return?
Singletary said he had a recent conversation with Bruce and did not sense any unhappiness from the wideout about Martz's departure. However, Singletary wasn't entirely sure what Bruce would be doing during the 2009 season. I asked if Bruce was contemplating retirement. Singletary: "At this juncture, as we go through the offseason, there are some things he has to sort out as to what he wants to do."
Singletary characterized it as the normal thought process of someone who has been in the league as long as Bruce. "Once you get to a certain point in your career, it gets to be one of those year-to-year things. Once it gets to year 10, 11, 12, it becomes, 'How do I feel?'" Bruce, who took over second place in all-time NFL receiving yards in 2008, would be entering his 16th season if he came back.
Taking a wait-and-see approach may be Bruce's m.o. He typically spends the offseason away from the team facility, preferring to work out on his own and getting away from the game. Upon signing a two-year deal with the 49ers in March, Bruce told reporters he had "a lot left." "If that wasn't the case, I wouldn't be here in San Francisco. I haven't really thought about football for the last two months. I haven't set my goals yet. My hopes are very high. I'm going to set my goals very high, and I believe I will attain them."
Singletary said that offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye has finished evaluating the offense and that there were no surprises from his evaluation. He said that he and Raye were simpatico as far as which positions the 49ers needed to upgrade. I asked whether Raye wanted to see Alex Smith back with the team in 2009 and Singletary said: "I think Alex Smith is someone we'd all like to see back in 2009. It's just a matter of working things out."
I asked about the timeline for structuring a new deal with Smith, who is due to make nearly $10 million in base salary. Singletary: "Sooner rather than later. I think the most important thing is that it gets done. I think Alex wants to be here from everything I know. Like I said, sooner rather than later."
I asked whether he had spoken with Smith recently. Singletary: "Yes, I have. Alex has always been positive about the 49ers."
-- Matt Barrows