Nolan not watching?

Rookie head coach Mike Nolan still is learning what duties he needs to carry out to best serve his team on game day.

When asked after last week's 24-6 loss to the New York Giants how well quarterback Cody Pickett played, Nolan answered that he really did not watch that much of Pickett's performance.

Then what the heck was he doing?

Nolan said he might miss the first part of a series because he is talking to the team's defense after a change of possession. Or a lot of times, he might be concentrating all his effort into watching the opponent's defense.

"A lot of times when our offense is on the field, the way I can help the offense and (offensive coordinator) Mike McCarthy is to stare down the defense. Because as soon as the ball's snapped I can see what they're doing and I can say, 'Mike, this is what you're getting,' as opposed to watching our own players and seeing how they're executing the plays."

Nolan said that is the best way he can help the team's offense because of his expertise on the defensive side of the ball. Nolan was a long-time NFL defensive assistant before the 49ers hired him in January as head coach.

"The offensive coaches already know if a guy misses a block or if a guy makes a block or why a play worked and why it didn't," Nolan said. "My expertise is on the other side, so..."

So Nolan said he will offer input to the offensive coaches along the lines of, "Here's what (the defense is) doing and why they're doing this, and this is what we need to do," Nolan said.

"It's using my strengths," Nolan added. "I already have guys to do the other jobs. I try to utilize my strengths so they can be most helpful to the offense."

Not much has worked for the 49ers offense in recent weeks. The club has scored just eight offensive touchdowns in eight games. Since Tim Rattay was benched and subsequently traded, the 49ers have gained just 234 net yards passing in four games.

As a result, the 49ers dropped to the bottom of the NFL rankings in total offense this week after their 138-yard output against the Giants. The 49ers also rank 32nd in the league in total defense.

PLAYER NOTES

--- LT Jonas Jennings is out for the season after the 49ers placed him on their injured reserve list Wednesday. The fifth-year veteran had surgery Tuesday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and it was determined during the procedure that the tear needed to be repaired instead of a stopgap measure that might have allowed Jennings to return later this season. He now faces more than four months of rehabilitation. The 49ers forked out huge dollars to acquire Jennings as their top prize in free agency this offseason - he signed a seven-year, $36 million deal with a $12 million signing bonus in March - but the deal will not pay dividends this year, since Jennings played in just three games during his first season with the team.

--- QB Cody Pickett will make his second NFL start on Sunday when the 49ers face the Chicago Bears. Pickett, who was the fourth-string quarterback just two weeks ago, has the best passer rating of any of the quarterbacks still on the team. He has completed 13 of 22 passes for 112 yards with no touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 53.6. If he plays well Sunday against the Bears, Nolan said he would stick with him for a while.

--- QB Alex Smith is likely to miss another game with a right knee sprain he sustained Oct. 23 against the Redskins. Smith has struggled in the first two starts of his career. He completed 23 of 50 passes for 200 yards with five interceptions, no touchdowns and a passer rating of 17.5. If Pickett plays well against the Bears, Smith might not return to the lineup when he's healthy.

--- QB Ken Dorsey said his sprained left ankle is feeling a lot better but he is not quite 100 percent. Dorsey sustained an ankle sprain in his only start this season, a 15-10 victory over the Buccaneers on Oct. 30.

--- RB Kevan Barlow could not get anything going against the Giants, gaining just 4 yards on 10 carries to see his season average slip to 3.7 yards per carry. It was arguably the worst game of his 68-game NFL career, second in unproductivity only to a November game against Philadelphia in 2002 when he finished with minus-3 yards on three carries. Barlow rushed for nine yards on five carries in his NFL debut during the 2001 season opener against Atlanta and had seven yards on three carries in a playoff game at Tampa Bay after the 2002 season. He has rushed for at least 12 yards in every other game in which he has carried the football. Barlow is the team leader this season with 424 yards rushing on 114 carries. He also has the most receptions on the team, grabbing 23 passes for 177 yards.

--- RB Frank Gore gained 33 yards on just seven carries against the Giants to make a bid for more playing time over Barlow. Gore has 271 yards rushing on 51 carries this season for an impressive 5.3-yard average.

--- FB Fred Beasley sustained two torn ligaments in his right thumb and removed himself in the third quarter against the Giants because he was having an awful day in pass protection. Beasley said the injury wore on him mentally. Twice he failed to block a blitzer who put a hit on Pickett.

--- WR Brandon Lloyd made a remarkable 31-yard reception that was called back due to a holding penalty against the Giants. He caught just one other pass the entire game. His production has fallen off since the 49ers traded quarterback Tim Rattay. Lloyd has just 22 receptions for 400 yards and three touchdowns this season, but he's still the team's leading wideout.

--- WR Arnaz Battle returned to action against the Giants after missing most of the previous four games with a right knee sprain. Battle had two catches for 17 yards. For the season, he is third on the team with 17 receptions for 188 yards and two touchdowns.

--- WR Johnnie Morton returned to the team's No. 3 role after being forced to start four games this season because of an injury to Battle, the regular starter. Morton had one catch for 24 yards against the Giants. He is the team's fourth-leading receiver with 14 receptions for 162 yards.

--- TE Steve Bush is the starter, but he has been ineffective as a pass target. Bush has just three catches for 21 yards.

--- TE Trent Smith is considered the team's best pass catcher, but he has not shown anything so far. He has as many drops as receptions during his time with the club. He dropped an easy pass Sunday that would have gone for at least 30 yards and maybe a touchdown on the 49ers' second series of the game. Smith has three catches for 7 yards this season.

--- K Joe Nedney is having a very good season for the 49ers, converting 11 of 12 field-goal opportunities, including seven of seven from 40 yards and beyond. He made a season-long 52-yarder on Sunday against the Giants, when he also had a 48-yarder. Nedney has scored all of San Francisco's points in the team's past two games.

--LB Julian Peterson appears to be back to 100 percent about 13 months after sustaining a torn Achilles' tendon. He played his best game of the season Sunday against the Giants, racking up nine tackles and a forced fumble.

--- CB Ahmed Plummer, who has not played since Sept. 25 after undergoing arthroscopic ankle surgery, returned to practice on Wednesday. But coach Mike Nolan said it will be difficult for Plummer to get his starting job back with the way second-year player Bruce Thornton is playing.

--- WR Rasheed Marshall will remain as the team's punt returner even though Otis Amey might be ready to return from a high ankle sprain. Marshall has improved greatly as a return man from the preseason when he had trouble catching the ball. He was the Big East Offensive Player of the Year last season as a quarterback at West Virginia.


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