49ers aiming for .500 finish

With three games remaining and the 49ers at three games under .500, the focus for the rest of the season is obvious.

"No question, that's our goal," quarterback Shaun Hill said. "But right now, our goal is just trying to get to 6-8. Then, we'll worry about the rest later."

Hill, who has excelled in his five starts this season, is echoing the philosophy of interim head coach Mike Singletary. The 49ers might be out of the playoff hunt in the NFC, but Singletary does not have to go searching for reasons for his team to get motivated to play.

The 49ers return to action Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. The 49ers have defeated AFC East teams the past two weeks: at Buffalo and at home against the New York Jets.

Singletary said his philosophy never changes. His entire mindset is based on winning the next football game.

"It's about winning," Singletary said. "Whenever you're playing, it's all about winning. ... To me, whenever you're going to play a football game, I don't care what it is, I don't care what it's for. It's about winning.

"If you have another game, you have another opportunity to say, 'This is who I am. This is who we are as a football team.'"

Singletary is the interim head coach, but he is clearly moving forward as if he is going to be coaching the 49ers for a long time.

"When this team does come back next year, everything that we're building now, it'll just continue to roll forward," he said.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--- QB Shaun Hill has fit in well with coach Mike Singletary's plan for the offense. Hill has made five starts this season, and his passer rating is 95.5. He has completed 62.9 percent of his passing attempts with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. Hill's career record as a starter is 5-2, and he's 4-0 at San Francisco's Candlestick Park.

--- QB J.T. O'Sullivan has been relegated to the bench after experiencing a pronounced midseason slump. O'Sullivan threw 11 interceptions and lost six fumbles in the first half of the season -- not including another fumble that resulted in a safety.

--- RB Frank Gore is nursing a left ankle sprain, and his availability for Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins is in question. Gore leads the 49ers with 978 yards with a 4.3-yard rushing average. He has six rushing touchdowns. Gore is closing in on becoming the first player in club history to rush for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.

--- RB DeShaun Foster is expected to get significant playing time Sunday against the Miami Dolphins with Frank Gore questionable with an ankle sprain. Foster has not seen much action as Gore's backup. Foster's ball security is also an issue for coach Mike Singletary. Foster has fumbled twice on his 43 touches for the season. Foster has just 78 yards rushing on 37 carries, while catching six passes for 71 yards.

--- RB Michael Robinson fumbled one of his two rushing attempts Sunday against the New York Jets. He could see more time on Sunday against the Dolphins if Frank Gore is unable to play due to an ankle sprain. Robinson has 12 carries for 38 yards, and he has caught 11 passes for 126 yards.

--- TE Vernon Davis has not been much of a factor in the passing game this season, but coach Mike Singletary said he is the best blocking tight end he has ever seen. Davis has just 22 receptions for 292 yards and two touchdowns on the season.

--- WR Bryant Johnson remains in the starting lineup due to rookie Josh Morgan's groin injury. Johnson has started nine games this season. He's third on the team with 34 receptions for 402 yards and three touchdowns.

--- WR Isaac Bruce has gotten more and more comfortable with QB Shaun Hill. Bruce had another solid game Sunday against the Jets, catching six passes for 70 yards. Bruce leads the 49ers with 45 receptions for 695 yards and six touchdowns.

--- WR Josh Morgan, who earlier this season replaced Bryant Johnson as the starting split end, has missed the past four games with a significant groin tear. He returned to practice last week and was listed as probable for the game against the Jets, but the 49ers decided to give him another week to get better.

--- WR Arnaz Battle returned to action after missing four games with a foot sprain. Battle saw little action on offense, but he did assume the team's duties on punt returns. Battle aggravated his foot sprain, so his availability for Sunday's game against the Dolphins is in question.

--- WR Jason Hill continues to do a very good job while filling in for injured Arnaz Battle. Hill has 22 catches for 269 yards and a touchdown. He made two critical third-down receptions on the 49ers' fourth-quarter touchdown drive against the Jets.

--- DE Justin Smith is having an outstanding season in his first year with the 49ers. Smith is fourth on the 49ers with 81 tackles, according to the team's coaches film review. Smith is second with five sacks, and he leads the team with 48 quarterback pressures.

--- C Eric Heitmann is the best center that offensive coordinator Mike Martz has coached in 17 NFL seasons, Martz said last week. Heitmann then went out and proved it with a strong showing against Jets NT Kris Jenkins, who was held to just one tackle in the game.

--- LB Takeo Spikes is having a solid season for the 49ers after moving into the starting lineup for the fourth game of the season. Spikes is second on the team behind Patrick Willis with 100 tackles. Spikes is tied for the team lead with three interceptions, and he has forced two fumbles.


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