It's not unusual for one coach to call another coach and ask for a scouting report on a player. But it's a bit curious that San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary called Ohio State coach Jim Tressel before making the decision to start Troy Smith at quarterback last Sunday.
Singletary seemed to know enough about Smith when he signed the former Heisman Trophy winner after Smith was cut by the Baltimore Ravens in September. At the time, he praised Smith's work ethic and leadership.
"To me, he's a very solid guy," Singletary said. "He's a competitor, and he wants to be the best he can be. If nothing else, he comes in and adds to the positive energy we want here and the work ethic we want here."
So why did Singletary call Tressel on Oct. 25, six days before the Niners played the Denver Broncos in London, to ask about Smith?
"He said, ‘I'm just contemplating a decision I have to make, and I don't know as much about Troy as I'd like,'" Tressel told the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. He said Singletary also called people from the Ravens.
Tressel said Singletary was unable to reach him and left a message. At first, he was worried.
"He said it was regarding Troy, and as a parent, I'm like, ‘Ooh, what did Troy do?' because that's how you think as a parent," Tressel said. "So I called him back real quick, and it was good news."
It's doubtful Singletary asked about Smith's leadership skills or ability to learn an offense. And he already knew what Smith could do on a football field under pressure; if he didn't, why sign him?
It turned out for the best. Smith had a good game, the 49ers won and Singletary indicated he might go back to Smith against the St. Louis Rams ahead of injured starter Alex Smith. But it's unlikely Tressel told him anything he didn't already know.
NINERS FINED: Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reports that the NFL confirmed that linebacker Manny Lawson was fined $12,500 and linebacker Ahmad Brooks $10,000 for hits on Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton. Both have been fined previously for hits.