49ers Blog and Q&A

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

December 10, 2010
Billick: Don't reward lousy division winners with home game

Brian Billick was in the building today. No, not to talk about possible head-coaching opportunities in San Francisco but because the former Ravens coach is providing color commentary for FOX for Sunday's game between the 49ers and Seahawks. Billick touched on several topics, including Alex Smith, a 49ers spread offense and how the lousy NFC West has underscored the need for a new playoff seeding system.

BB: God bless America, and God bless the NFC West. Only in America could .500 get you into the playoffs. I think we seriously need to look at a re-seeding possibility. I think it will come up. You have to hold onto the division integrity. You have to hold onto the value of that. But if you get into the playoffs at 8-8, you've got the benefit of that. Let's re-seed it now. And I think it will take it even another step in terms of not sitting (players) down in Week 16.

8-8? That might be optimistic for the NFC West. What if the division winner is 7-9?

BB: God all mighty. All hell will break loose if that happens. ... I got to tell ya, if I'm an 11-5 Chicago or I'm an 11-5 Green Bay, and I've got to go on the road to Seattle or San Francisco or St. Louis, I'm one pissed off puppy. But you do it anyway

On whether he was surprised the 49ers turned back to Alex Smith
BB: You know, I had Troy in Baltimore. You love Troy, but where this team is now, looking at who they're playing, Troy coming to this team late -- you can't minimize that. The ability to do all that you need to do. To just throw a guy in that's unfamiliar with this system. With Alex and his familiarity with it, I think Mike (Singletary) obviously is approaching it the right way and doing it for the right reasons. ... Particularly if you're playing a team in Seattle that can do a lot of things. They have a pretty creative package. And you have to be able to access that part of your offense whether it's run check, run to run, run to pass, pass to run. And if you're not ingrained in that from training camp on, that's hard."

On whether he expects more spread offense with Alex Smith at quarterback
BB: I don't know, but that kind of makes ... We did the Houston game last year when they got down by 20-something. It was, 'Ok, put the game plan in the back pocket, let's go.' And all of a sudden it's up and down the field. The Green Bay game last year where they got down by 20 early. And in was, 'Ok, forget what we're going to do Let's open this thing up.' And they moved the ball. So yeah, that's a tough question for you because you want to be a certain thing with Gore, and the line and big and physical and good defense, but they're not that right now. We'll see. We'll see how they attack them.

On talking with Mike Singletary, who was on Billick's staff in Baltimore, on being a head coach:
BB: We were just talking about that. Until you sit in that chair, you don't know. I worked my whole life to become a head coach, you do everything you can to prepare and then you sit down and go, "Holy sh--, I have no idea." Because, Hillary Clinton aside, this is no place for on-the-job training, right? So, yeah, there is a growth. I don't care what your background is, and you learn. You learn as you go.

-- 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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