SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Quarterback Alex Smith may have lost the support of San Francisco 49ers fans, but at least he can draw comfort from this: His teammates have his back.
While Smith was being mercilessly booed Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, tight end Vernon Davis was lobbying for him to stay in the game. And several others stood up for Smith after the game and in the locker room Monday.
“I’m a big fan of Alex Smith,” Davis said. “He’s talented. He makes mistakes. His thing is, he definitely has to learn from them. We don’t have time to play around and just make careless mistakes. We’ve got to go. It’s about that time. But I’m definitely a big fan of his.”
Singletary had apparently seen enough of Smith and told backup David Carr to warm up. During a heated conversation with Smith, Davis and others went to the coach and told him they didn’t want to see Smith come out.
In part, that convinced Singletary to stay the course with Smith.
“During the conversation I had with him, there were several players who came over (saying), ‘Coach, he's going to be OK. He's ready. He's good,’” Singletary recalled. “Yes, during the game, after the game. I just think that the guys do believe in him. To me that's really the bottom line. The guys do believe in him.”
Smith, however, knows he needs to prove he deserves the support.
”It does (mean a lot),” he said, “especially as far as being the quarterback, knowing that you have the respect of your teammates, the guys in the locker room. That’s the main reason I play, for these guys in here. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to hold up my end as far as accountability goes, but it’s something I look forward to changing.”
Davis said he was aware Singletary was going to make a change and decided it was time to speak up.
“I knew he was going to try to substitute him out because he wasn’t doing as well.” Davis said, “But there’s some things you’ve go to do sometimes. You’ve got to make a decision, and that’s something coach Singletary is not afraid of – to make a decision.
“He said to Alex, ‘Great quarterbacks don’t give up. They don’t quit, No matter who it is. If you’re a great quarterback you won’t let the coach or anyone else take you out of the game.’ So that’s when I went to Alex and said, ‘Alex, you’re staying in this game. You look at coach and you tell him that you’re staying in the game. And you can do it because you’ve been in this position before.’”
RUN, RUN, RUN: The 49ers have a new offensive coordinator in Mike Johnson, but in many ways, the offense is still predictable as ever. In the first half Sunday, they opened the game by running the ball eight times on first down -- all by Frank Gore – for a total of five yards. They closed the half completing 4 of 6 for 63 yards on first down.
It’s logical to assume they should throw a little variety in the offense at the start of games, but that isn’t necessarily the case.
“I think Mike was trying to follow through with what we talked about during the week,” Singletary said. “This is not a game that we wanted to go in and throw the ball all over the place. We wanted to try to formulate a balance. As the game got going, there were a couple of things that were there as we thought they would be, but for one reason or another it did not happen.
“I think, as we go forward, Mike is still getting situated and still getting his feet underneath him as well. I'm sure he's learning, too, so hopefully going forward it will be a better mix.”