49ers Blog and Q&A

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

November 2, 2009
Staley, Clements likely to return this season *updated*

The team sent out a release this evening that has a timeline for the players' receoveries:

* CB Nate Clements suffered a right fractured scapula Sunday and will be sidelined 6-8 weeks.

* LT Joe Staley suffered sprains to the MCL and PCL of his right knee and will be sidelined for 6 weeks.

* DT Demetric Evans suffered an AC sprain in his left shoulder and will miss 3 weeks. ... Evans' injury likely means that Ricky Jean-Francois will be active in coming weeks.

It's good news/bad news for the 49ers. Two heretofore starters were knocked out of Sunday's game with bad injuries, but it appears neither will be placed on injured reserve and miss the season. Earlier today, Mike Singletary said that he still expects to make the playoffs and would need cornerback Nate Clements, who broke his right scapula Sunday on a punt return, for a postseason push. "We will not put him on IR," Singletary said. "If we're in the playoffs, we want him to play." Earlier this year, receiver Brandon Jones suffered a similar injury and missed six weeks. Singletary said today that Jones had healed after five weeks and was back practicing after five weeks.

Meanwhile, Staley is back from his MRI at Stanford Hospital but does not know the exact results of his sprained knee. He's walking with a brace, but not crutches, and he said the knee was stiff. He did say, however, that his sprained knee wasn't an ACL and that it wouldn't be season-ending. Results from both Staley's MRI and Clements' CT scan should be available later today.

Both players are in uncharted territory for them. Staley said he's never dealt with any serious injury, much less a knee injury. Clements, meanwhile, never missed a game until he broke his thumb last season.

As far as his Week 8 demotion, Clements said "it was tough, but I'm being professional about it and doing anything I can to help my teammates and help the team get on track." Clements, who is due for a big salary bump next season, also said he wouldn't worry about his future with the team. "I'm just going to continue to be Nate and work hard like I've always done my career," he said. "And everything else will take care of itself."

Singletary was asked about veteran receiver Isaac Bruce, who played the bulk of the game Sunday, but who had a costly drop and didn't have his best game. "I will put it this way right now. Isaac Bruce is one of the guys we count on to win. As far as getting into, 'Is he the best 11?' and all of these other kinds of things, I'm going to say he gives us a chance to win. And in certain situations, he is one of the best 11 on the field and in other situations, he isn't. And that goes for a number of our receivers. And I just think going forward, we have to continue to evaluate our team and talent. And this team right now is going through changes and seeing some guys step up ... And it's going to continue to be that way. I believe in the best 11 guys on the field, and whoever that is, that's who's going to be out there."

It appears that offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye has born the brunt of the blame from Sunday's loss. Singletary, however, pinned it on his team's immaturity. He said veteran teams like the Colts win those games because they've played tight games before. His team hung close, but made too many critical errors. "Yesterday was a classic case of an immature team shooting themselves in the foot," he said.

Ask if he still backed Raye's approach 100 percent, Singletary went 50 percent further. "I 150 percent back what he's doing," he said. "Absolutely. There's not one iota that I'm wavering here or there." Singletary did concede that Raye is still in the process of learning what his players do best, and thus the offense is still evolving.

The 49ers have seemed to flourish in three-receiver formations in which Alex Smith is in the shotgun. But Smith said he wouldn't want to do that all the time because the 49ers would become one-dimensional. "When you're lopsided either way, I think it makes it easier on (the defense)," Smith said.

Odds and ends:

  • Singletary said he thought the right side of his line, Adam Snyder and Chilo Rachal, played well against the Colts. Rachal helped spring Gore on his long touchdown run.

  • Singletary said he thought Patrick Willis enjoyed not having to wear the radio receiver against the Colts. "I think it certainly allows him to go out there and play," he said.

  • Singletary praised his pass defense, noting how well it played Peyton Manning in the red zone.

Still fuming about Sunday's game? I'm listening, San Francisco. Join me tomorrow at 11 a.m. for a live chat. You'll find it at www.sacbee.com/live.

-- 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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