Mike Singletary today reiterated how nice it was to see Ahmad Brooks shine on national television, but he also said that Brooks' becoming an every-down player was a "next-season question." In other words, Brooks will continue to be a third-down pass rusher for the 49ers. But he won't replace either Manny Lawson or Parys Haralson as one of the team's starting outside linebackers this season.
Singletary called Brooks a "rare talent," and that talent was evident as Brooks sacked Kurt Warner three times last night, causing Warner to fumble twice. But Brooks' transition from inside linebacker, which is what he was to start the 2008 season, to outside linebacker has been a slow process. During the 2008 season, the 49ers realized Brooks was a better fit as a pass rusher and they began giving him repetitions as a defensive end on the scout team. Brooks went through the 2009 offseason as Haralson's back up at Will outside linebacker.
There was an interesting exchange between Maiocco and Singletary about punt returns, a facet of the game that nearly turned into a disaster - again - when Arnaz Battle botched a punt that ultimately rolled out of bounds. Asked if the 49ers needed to bring in a more sure-handed returner as they make a final playoff push, Singletary said they already had a sure-handed player - Brandon Jones. Ok, then why has Battle been the punt returner the last two games? Singletary didn't have a good answer: "Because when you get punts, the thing that you want to try and do in a game like that is ... and it's not like Arnaz can't catch the ball. He missed one ball - I think that was in Houston, Ok? That's one ball."
Asked if he regretted releasing return man Allen Rossum earlier this season, Singletary said, "No. Absolutely not." Rossum was picked up by the Cowboys and immediately injured his hamstring. They released him four weeks later.
Left tackle Joe Staley might be returning from a knee injury in the nick of time. Singletary said that Staley's replacement, Barry Sims, arrived at team headquarters complaining of knee pain. Sims had an MRI, the results of which are not yet known. Staley, meanwhile, worked out before Monday's game but ultimately decided to give his knee one more week off. Look for him to return to action Sunday against Philadelphia.
Michael Robinson has been dealing with stingers - a compression of the nerves that involve the back, neck, shoulders, and arms and cause shooting pain down the arm - all season, and experienced another last night. The 49ers will proceed cautiously with Robinson, who already sat out the team's Nov. 29 game against Jacksonville after suffering a severe stinger the week before.
I've only been covering the NFL since 2003, but I've never heard of a team taking Wednesday off following a Monday night game. That's what the 49ers will do. The players won't practice today or tomorrow, although they will have meetings and perhaps walk-throughs tomorrow. They leave for Philadelphia Friday afternoon.
Best way to get through hump day? By joining me for a Niners Fireside Chat tomorrow at 10 a.m. You have questions. I have conjectures. Log onto www.sacbee.com/live for the chat ...
-- Matt Barrows