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October 26, 2012
Buzzer beater: Iupati's prowess in meetings foreshadowed big game

iupatiHawks.jpg

I'll take front-side linebackers for $1000, Greg.

Guard Mike Iupati garnered a lot of praise from Jim Harbaugh the day after the Seattle game. Today he got more from offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who said Iupati's big game was foreshadowed by how sharp he was in meetings that week.

"He was hitting the buzzer first," Roman said of the question and answer sessions inside the offensive meeting room. "That's very impressive. Some of the older, more veteran guys will be the first guys to spit it out. He was the first guy hitting the buzzer."

Roman said he went into the week unsure whether he was heaping too much on his offensive line with such a small amount of time to prepare. Would they be able to digest it all? Would they be tentative in the game? "My confidence felt a lot better when those guys were spitting that stuff out," he said. "It was very impressive on Mike's part."

Iupati's readiness was especially critical considering how many trap plays Roman ended up calling. The guards have to be especially quick off the snap on traps, and Roman said Iupati's and Alex Boone's preparation were a big reason why that particular play was so successful against the Seahawks.

Iupati today stressed that the 49ers spend A LOT of time in the meeting room, even during short weeks, and that there's no choice but to be mentally prepared for games. A typically meeting, he said, lasts a couple of hours.

Does he ever doze off? "Not really because we're in the front," he said.

During Monday's game, Iupati will be matched against the Cardinals' top defensive lineman, Calais Campbell, who made waves this week by talking -- at length -- about how much he and his teammates "hate" the 49ers. Said the soft spoken Iupati in reaction: "Talk is cheap. That's all I've got to say."

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Asked what was behind Frank Gore's gaudy 5.8 yards-per-carry average, Roman said that last year Gore still was dealing with the after effects of a broken hip when he reported to training camp.

"We challenged him to be in the best shape of his life coming into training camp this year," Roman said. "I think he answered the challenge."

Gore broke his hip in 2010 against the Cardinals on a Monday Night game in Arizona.

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Asked why Brandon Jacobs, who has yet to play a snap this season, went into last Thursday's game late in the fourth quarter only to be replaced by Kendall Hunter, Roman said he changed the play call.

"I didn't think it was fair to have Brandon run a play he hadn't had as much work on," he said.

Roman wouldn't say if Jacobs would get into Monday's game, but like Harbaugh he seemed unwilling to disrupt the status quo on a team that currently ranks No. 2 in rushing. "When somebody has the hot hand, you keep going, don't you? And Frank's been running pretty darn well."

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The NFL fined Dashon Goldson $7,875 for taunting Marshawn Lynch last Thursday. Jim Harbaugh said ... and this makes me laugh whenever I think of it ... Goldson was merely exhorting teammate Justin Smith, who also was on the bottom of the pile.

-- 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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