First things first. In his end-of-season press conference today, Mike Singletary made it clear that both Jimmy Raye and Alex Smith were the offensive coordinator and starting quarterback respectively. But he also left himself some wiggle room to make adjustments at both positions. Singletary's main message was that he would meet with all of his players and coaches this week and that any changes would be based on those meetings.
On Smith: "I would say at this point, I would say Alex Smith is the starting quarterback going forward," Singletary said. "The thing that I want you to understand is that we're always trying to get better at that position, constantly evaluating. It does not mean that we will not sign another quarterback. We're always looking at it." Later when asked about the type of quarterback he would consider - veteran, rookie - Singletary said: "Alex Smith is the starting quarterback right now. If we sign a quarterback this offseason, we'll see where it goes. I don't want to get into 'what kind of veteran quarterback.' I don't understand all that. Alex Smith is the starting quarterback right now and hopefully this offseason if one happens to show up or however that works out, there's always the possibility of signing another quarterback depending on what the situation is and depending on where that puts us in terms of the cap and all that other stuff. But I just think it's very important that right now just knowing that Alex Smith is the starting quarterback."
My take: Remember, the 49ers flirted hard with Kurt Warner this past offseason, an indication that they're always eying an upgrade. My sense, however, is that if the 49ers added another quarterback it might be bad news not for Alex Smith but for Shaun Hill.
On Raye: "I don't really have a question about the coordinator. Now as far as the execution is concerned. I think when I look at Jimmy Raye, there's just a lot of different things that have come across the table this year. On the one hand, I'm very pleased with his ability as a staff for a 180-degree turn-around and try and put together a different style of offense for a different style of quarterback. At the same time, it's just one of those things you have to continue to address - third downs, moving the chains - that sort of thing - being consistent. I don't think it's a matter of another coordinator. I think it's a matter of putting the pieces together, identifying exactly the offense you're going to run, identifying the kind offensive line you need to run that. I think we have a lot of pieces in place. I just think it's a matter of getting all the pieces in the right place."
On whether QBs coach Mike Johnson will have greater responsibility or possibly become coordinator: "I think right now, we've got a lot of conversations that we have to have. Right now Jimmy is the coordinator and I just think it's a matter of putting pieces in the right place."
My take: Raye will have a job with the 49ers in 2010. The 49ers want that continuity. The question is whether Johnson's role increases while Raye's diminishes or perhaps whether the 49ers bring in another mind -- call it a "running game coordinator" or something -- to assist Raye. The plan always has been for Johnson to take over for Raye at some point.
Singletary said that Step 1 in his offseason evaluation process was finally settling in on an offensive identity, something the team has appeared close to doing in the last four games. Singletary noted that there were more two-back sets in the last four games, which is something he wants to see moving forward: "That's more of what we want to get to," he said, "Keeping it balanced, but at the same time being unpredictable; them not having an idea of what the heck we're doing; making sure that on third downs we have a great plan for that."
As far as Nate Clements, Singletary called him a "very important part of our football team.' Singletary said he would NOT consider switching Clements to safety.
No 49ers will have any major offseason surgeries, Singletary said. He said there may be a few minor procedures. Ahmad Brooks, for instance, may have to have surgery on his thumb.
-- Matt Barrows