Smith & Bryant destined to butt heads?

Quarterback Alex Smith has a good relationship with 49ers teammate Antonio Bryant. But he acknowledges that at some point this season his rapport with the team's top receiver could be tested in the heat of battle.

"I anticipate there might be times, absolutely, that he and I might butt heads," Smith said. "Who knows? If we're struggling or something and not getting things going, absolutely, something might happen. In the heat of the game a lot of things get said and happen."

Bryant had zero receptions in the first half of the 49ers' 34-27 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday, later telling reporters he wanted to get in a boxing match with Smith because the ball was not coming his way.

Smith laughed when told of Bryant's remarks, but added that Bryant did not voice his displeasure during the game.

"In 2002, Antonio would have been frustrated," Bryant said of himself. "In 2003, Antonio would have thrown a helmet across the field. But it's 2006. I knew that, hey, you've got to keep your head up."

Coach Mike Nolan said he was fully aware of Bryant's volatile personality when the club signed him to a four-year, $13.9 million contract. He also said that he will continue to monitor Bryant's demeanor.

Bryant, now playing for his third NFL team in his fifth season in the league, once tossed a sweaty jersey in coach Bill Parcells' face during a spring workout after his rookie season in Dallas. Bryant was required by the team to undergo anger management, then was traded to Cleveland before the October trade deadline early in his second season with the Cowboys.

When asked Monday if he has concerns about Bryant's temper, Nolan answered, "From the time I first sat down with him until as long as we're together, yes."

Bryant was called for a taunting penalty late in the game after a 46-yard reception. He had been battling verbally with Cardinal cornerback Eric Green and other Arizona defensive backs for most of the game.

Bryant and Smith got together in the second half, teaming up for four completions for 114 yards. They also had a 52-yard touchdown pass negated by a questionable offensive holding penalty on right tackle Kwame Harris. Bryant showed the ability to get deep and has earned Smith's trust as the team's No. 1 target.

"I love everything about Antonio," Nolan said. "I love his competitiveness. I'm glad he's here, but we'll have our moments. ... Believe me, he's not a belligerent guy. ... When you find guys who are competitive, you take the good with the bad. He gives us something we need on this football team from a competitive standpoint."

PLAYER NOTES
--- QB Alex Smith looked composed and made good decisions in and out of the pocket in the season opener. After compiling a passer rating of 40.8 last season, smith opened the season with an 88.3 rating in his first game. He completed 23 of 40 passes for 288 yards and one touchdown. The 49ers snapped a streak of 26 consecutive games in which they were out-gained in passing yards.
--- FB Chris Hetherington played 27 snaps, mostly as a lead-blocker, in the opener. He caught one pass for no yards, but his blocking was instrumental in the team's run game.
--- WR Arnaz Battle started and played 40 of the team's 59 offensive snaps. Battle caught just two passes for 19 yards, but also handled punt-return duties. Battle returned three punts for 71 yards, including a 60-yarder in the fourth quarter that set up a short field goal that brought the 49ers within a touchdown.
--- WR Bryan Gilmore split some time as the No. 2 receiver with Arnaz Battle. Gilmore played 35 of the team's 59 snaps. He caught two passes for 19 yards.
--- TE Vernon Davis had an up-and-down NFL debut. On his first catch, he took a pass down the sideline for a 31-yard TD, demonstrating his exceptional speed. Later, he fumbled after a short reception and later he dropped a crucial pass on a third-and-2 deep in Cardinals territory. Davis left the game for five plays in the first half after sustaining a bruised left hip. Those were the only five offensive plays in the entire game that he did not play. He is probable for this week's game.
--- TE Eric Johnson was introduced before the game as one of the starters, but he saw only 10 plays of action in the game. Coach Mike Nolan said he planned to play Johnson a lot more, but the circumstances in the game dictated that the 49ers go with more 3-WR sets, instead of 3-TE formations. Johnson had one catches for 2 yards and two other passes thrown his way fell incomplete.
--- LG Larry Allen sustained a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee and is expected to miss 2 to 4 weeks. Allen will not require surgery.
--- LT Jonas Jennings left the game Sunday with a high right ankle sprain but returned to play most of the second half. Although Jennings said he believes he'll be able to play this week, the team is listing him as doubtful.
--- K Joe Nedney, who set the 49ers' single-season record last year for FG accuracy, made two of three FG attempts. He made kicks from 22 and 44 yards, but missed badly from 34. His successful onside kick gave the 49ers a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. Nedney has been successful on three of the five onside kicks he has attempted with the 49ers.
--- LB Brandon Moore did not start against Arizona, but he might have earned a lot more playing time. He recorded one sack, pressured Cardinals QB Kurt Warner into an intentional grounding, and forced a fumble.
--- CB Walt Harris recorded his first sack since 1999. On his sack, he forced a fumble and also recovered it, leading to a 49ers touchdown two plays later. He also batted down two passes and had six tackles.
--- DT Bryant Young had a solid first game, as the 49ers' front seven played very well against the run, holding RB Edgerrin James to just 73 yards on 26 carries. Young recorded a sack and two QB hurries.
--- S Tony Parrish, who has started the first 122 games of his career, appears to be in danger of losing his job to Mark Roman. The two players split time at strong safety in the opener against the Cardinals. Parrish and Roman had one tackle apiece.


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