Looking deeper into the season-opening loss

Don't just blame Alex Smith. The running game went nowhere, Michael Crabtree was a non-factor and the secondary made big mistakes. Here's another look at some of the things coach Mike Singletary said this week.

The San Francisco 49ers took their usual day off on Tuesday, but a defeat like the one they suffered Sunday in Seattle doesn't go down easily. Nor does it fade away quickly.

Quarterback Alex Smith took the brunt of the blame, but as he and coach Mike Singletary said during their post mortem the next day, there was enough blame for everyone. In fact, Singletary leveled some harsh criticism in several directions after the game, then called a team meeting after returning home because several players said he may have been too critical.

Here are some of Singletary's comments about aspects of the 31-6 loss:

On whether offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye was at fault for taking too long to get plays relayed to Smith from the coaches' booth in the press box: "I know Jimmy understands that he has to do a better job of getting it in, and we're going to work on it this week and get it where it needs to be. But that's just something that we will work out."

On why Frank Gore and the running game never got untracked: "When you look at some of the things we did with the type of runs that we had, primarily inside, you kind of stack the inside. And that's where we were running. And I think there were a couple of plays that we had outside, but after we got behind, we didn't run as much. But the bottom line is that you have to continue to run. If you get two yards, it's OK if you get two yards. If it's second and seven, if it's second and eight, if you're going to run the ball and you're committed to it, and you're going to balance out your offense, then you just have to be a little bit more patient. And each quarter that goes by, as you continue to stay with the running game, each quarter that goes by, it gets a little better. If you can hang onto it and not do dumb things to get you in trouble before you get to the third and fourth quarter, you have a chance to turn that two, one, three, into a four, five and six and even more."

On whether Michael Crabtree missing all four preseason games was evident: "Any time a player misses the offseason, particularly a young player, it's going to show itself. It's going to show up in games, and I think sometimes one of the most difficult things for a young player (like Crabtree) that came in last year like he did, you think, ‘Maybe I don't need training camp. Maybe I bypass that.' But you fail to see that we put you in a very limited situation, where when you come in, it's not like we expect you to learn the whole playbook. You know, just learn these five plays, just learn these seven plays. But you go through training camp, even though you don't play in the game, I think you begin to discover there's a lot more involved when you have to learn the entire playbook. There's a lot more involved in it when the timing of certain routes that have to be run exactly right. So I think that's something that he learned yesterday."

On whether he could have done something more to make sure that Crabtree, who was bothered by a neck strain, played in the preseason: "Well, as much as we could without forcing him to do something. That's when you get into the trainer vs. athlete. When I talk to (trainer Jeff Ferguson) and he tells me, ‘You know what, Mike? He's banged up,' and the kid is saying he's banged up as well, that makes sense to me to say, ‘He's banged up.' Sure, I could say, ‘I want you out there. I want you to play.' And then I have to listen to you guys on a whole other route. And I don't need that."

On whether he wants cornerback Nate Clements to jump routes in certain situations: "I talked to our DB coach (Vance Joseph) and (special assistant) Johnnie Lynn, and that's one of the conversations we had (Sunday) night. I want to make sure that there's no gray in what we do. There are certain defenses, and we didn't call that defense very much, but there are certain defenses that call for the corner jumping that route. Now, it's down to the technique he has to use in jumping that route. It's one thing if the quarterback pumps and the DB just goes ahead and totally abandons anything else and could leave somebody else exposed. There's a way to do it and a way not to do it. I thought Nate did a good job for the most part, and I know the play you're talking about looks like he just totally lost his mind, but I think we have to do a better job as coaches as well to make sure that there's no gray, and there's a little bit of gray in that particular defense, which is why we don't run it very much."


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