49ers Blog and Q&A

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

December 16, 2010
Singletary considered pulling Alex Smith

Following a demoralizing 34-7 loss to the Chargers, 49ers coach Mike Singletary said he considered inserting quarterback Troy Smith for Alex Smith, who fell back to earth after an exceptional game against Seattle on Sunday. Singletary also left open the possibility of going with Troy Smith in next Sunday's game in St. Louis.

"Once again, I want to get back and look at the film," Singletary said. "It wasn't just Alex. ... I think our offensive line has to do a better job in terms of protecting him." Smith was 19 of 29 for 165 yards and was sacked six times.

Singletary said he didn't remove Alex Smith from the game because "it would have been unfair to Troy Smith" who didn't get any first-team snaps in the abbreviated work week. "It is a different thing from going from Troy to Alex," he said. "I think it is a horrific thing to go from Alex to Troy."

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Part of Smith's problem was that his two primary receivers, Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, rarely were open. The Chargers top-ranked pass defense did a good job of taking away Davis. After the game, Davis said the intent was to get him deep but that the Chargers moved their safeties back farther than had in previous games to take away those passes. That led to a lot of double-clutching by Smith and to several sacks.

Davis finished with one catch for one yard. Crabtree was ineffective with three catches for 17 yards. The 49ers' top receiver was Josh Morgan, who had a career-high 106 receiving yards on seven receptions.

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Justin Smith said that in the heat of the moment, he didn't realize who was tugging on him.
"It was just a natural reaction by me," said Smith, who shoved aside umpire Garth DeFelice in the second quarter. "But rules are rules. You've got to respect it, and unfortunately it cost the team."

After the 49ers were stopped on a fourth-and-goal play, the Chargers took over deep in their own territory. Following a running play, Smith got into a tussle with tight end Kris Wilson. When DeFelice tried to break them apart, Smith brushed him away. That drew a 15-yard penalty and an ejection for the 10-year veteran.

Smith said he didn't purposely shove DeFelice. But after the game referee Clete Blakeman said that he and DeFelice conferred and felt that Smith's contact with the official was intentional. Contact with the official does not warrant an automatic ejection, but it does when that contact is deemed intentional.

"It's not technically by rule automatic, but it's within our discretion," Blakeman said. "But if it's (an) intentional act by the contact, then, yes, he is disqualified. At that point, it becomes not within our discretion."

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The 49ers went into the game with three tailbacks, but finished it with only one. DeShawn Wynn, who missed last week's game with an ankle injury, became ill with dehydration early in the game and did not return. Meanwhile, rookie Anthony Dixon left the game after spraining an ankle. That left only Brian Westbrook, who finished with 22 yards and scored the 49ers' only touchdown, a three-yard run in the fourth quarter.

The only other tailbacks on the team are Frank Gore, whose season ended when he was placed on injured reserve earlier this month with a hip fracture, and Xavier Omon, who is on the practice squad.

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Outside linebacker Travis LaBoy left the game in the second quarter with a knee sprain and did not return. Receiver Michael Crabtree (finger), safety Dashon Goldson (finger), linebacker Manny Lawson (thigh bruise), cornerback Nate Clements (knee bruise) and tight end Nate Byham (heal bruise) also suffered injuries in the game.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW 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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