49ers Blog and Q&A

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

August 29, 2011
"Disgusted" Joe Staley: The season's upon us. We've got to play a lot better

Joe Staley may be the most gregarious, loose, fun-loving guy on the 49ers. (Anthony Dixon gives him a run for his money). Walk into the locker room on any given day, and you're likely to find Staley singing a Billy Joel song at the top of his lungs and urging his teammates to join in.


Today Staley was in a different mood. His arms were alternately folded tightly across his chest or he was tapping the side of his leg in annoyance. He said he couldn't wait to hit the practice field this afternoon.

"We watched the film this morning and we're very disgusted with what we saw on the offensive line," he said of the offensive line's performance against Houston Saturday. "And our coach challenged us, and we challenged ourselves (to) come out and have a really great week of practice and a really great game. We've got to get going. The season's upon us. We've got to play a lot better than that."

Staley acknowledged that he didn't do much film work on Connor Barwin, his scourge Saturday, but he didn't want that as an excuse. "Just got beat," Staley said. "Got to get better. I got beat. I'm not going to give you any excuses. I played terrible."

Center Jonathan Goodwin agreed that it was a tension-filled and emotional meeting this morning. Other offensive linemen declined to be interviewed. "Guys weren't happy," Goodwin said. "I think everyone wants to play better, and no offensive lineman wants to see his quarterback get continually hit."

That was the case against the Texans, who sacked starting quarterback Alex Smith twice and delivered three other big hits in the first half. That's the second time that's happened during the preseason, and it tops the team's list of concerns as it heads into the regular season. For a hit-by-hit breakdown on what went wrong Saturday, click here.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he hoped that two members of the secondary, Shawntae Spencer (hamstring) and Reggie Smith (knee) would return to practice this week. Smith is unlikely to play in Thursday's preseason finale; Spencer could be a game-time decision, Fangio said.

He said both are being considered for starting jobs. However, he said that Spencer would have to practice some this week in order to remaining in the running to be the opening-day starter at cornerback. Spencer only has taken part in two full practices - both non-contact - before pulling his hamstring.

Meanwhile, Smith - who had a strong start to training camp - is competing with Dashon Goldson and Madieu Williams to be the starting free safety. Williams played well against the Texans, and he was especially solid as a tackler. Fangio acknowledged the 49ers were concerned that a serious neck injury Williams suffered in 2008 might make him tentative. So far, Fangio said, that has not been the case.

Odds and Ends:

• Fangio praised starting outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks but said he needs to work on his consistency. Fangio said that Brooks' conditioning, which wasn't great at the start of training camp, has improved over time. Brooks reported the camp overweight. (He did last year as well).

• Fangio said that cornerback Phillip Adams is probably about 75 to 80 percent recovered from his gruesome ankle injury suffered late last season. Adams will present the 49ers with one of their toughest roster conundrums. They must reduce the roster to 53 players on Saturday.

• Fangio said the team would keep anywhere from five to seven defensive linemen on the active roster. Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Isaac Sopoaga, Ricky Jean Francois and Will Tukuafu are likely the top five. That means the 49ers must decide whether promising undrafted players like Ian Williams, Demarcus Dobbs and Sealver Siliga get placed on the active roster or the practice squad. Practice squad players first must pass through waivers before they can be added to the practice squad.

-- 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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