49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

August 10, 2009
Nolan will be welcomed with open arms

Mike Nolan might attract a few boos during Friday night's preseason game at Candlestick Park. But the Broncos' new defensive coordinator will be welcomed with open arms by the man who replaced him as head coach. Nolan, of course, brought Mike Singletary with him from Baltimore in 2005 and made him assistant head coach. The two men were neighbors in Saratoga and Singletary says he still keeps in touch with Nolan. "The most important thing that I learned from coach Nolan was mental toughness and character and work ethic." Singletary said that Nolan inherited easily the worst situation in the NFL when he arrived in 2005. Said Singletary: "Mike will always be a great friend."

Singletary said he has not decided on a quarterback rotation for the Broncos game. And he also said that it might not be until after the third preseason game in Dallas that he picks a regular-season starter. As of now, Shaun Hill and Alex Smith are neck and neck ... Singletary did say that Frank Gore would see very minimal playing time against Nolan's unit. Glen Coffee was nursing an ankle sprain today, so it could mean that Kory Sheets and Thomas Clayton see a lot of action. That might not necessarily be a bad thing for Clayton ...

Isaac Bruce was poked in the eye during 7-on-7 drills and did not take part in the team drills. When the first-team offense lined up for the first time, the wideouts were Josh Morgan and Arnaz Battle. Indeed, Battle might have the early lead as far as stepping into Brandon Jones' spot in the pecking order. Smith hit him with a perfectly placed 40-yarder over Michael Lewis early in team drills ... Speaking of Morgan, it seems like the coaching staff is trying to squeeze more from him. Yesterday, Jimmy Raye noted that Bruce was the only wideout guaranteed to make the team. Today, Singletary was lukewarm in his praise of Morgan, saying he's been inconsistent in practice. Indeed, Morgan dropped a couple of passes he normally makes.

Shaun Hill worked with the first-team offense and was 5-10, including a flat-out drop by Morgan on a crossing pattern. Smith, meanwhile, looked sharp in going 7 of 9. His two incompletions came on plays in which he would have been sacked by the defense, including a corner blitz by Dre Bly.

Moran Norris was again absent to attend to a personal matter at home. Singletary gave his blessing to the absence ... Singletary said there is still plenty of time for Tarell Brown (toe) to beat out Bly for one of the starting cornerback jobs. ... Why no Patrick Willis? I have a feeling he is getting the Han Solo treatment (see yesterday's post) ...

-- Matt Barrows

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Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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