49ers Blog and Q&A

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

December 18, 2009
Storm hours away; Spencer fined $7,500

The storm is coming, although the current projections have it clearing out of Philadelphia around 8 a.m. Sunday morning. The game is at 1 p.m. Accumulations could be anywhere from eight to 14 inches and there will be plenty of wind as the storm passes through, according to the weather Channel. By kickoff, the forecast is for partly cloudy skies with the temperature just above freezing. The forecast has been changing -- for the worse -- over the last 24 hours and promises to change some more. So stay tuned ...

How will Alex Smith fare against Old Man Winter? He's no stranger to cold-weather games having played at Utah. Here's an excerpt from a story I wrote about Smith in 2005:

In lauding their quarterback, Smith's Utah coaches talk more about his toughness than touchdowns. Ask Bill Busch, the former Utah assistant who recruited Smith out of San Diego's Helix High School, about the quarterback's true colors, and he'll talk about the Utes' 2003 regular- season finale, a 3-0 win over rival BYU played in a driving snowstorm in Provo. Smith's passing numbers - 11 of 19 for 113 yards - were some of the lowest in his career.

Still, Busch called Smith's performance "brilliant," because the 190-pound sophomore managed the game like a fifth-year senior, minimizing mistakes on a horrible day in an inhospitable stadium. "He got the crap kicked out of him, and he never flinched," Busch said.

Former Utah coach Urban Meyer pointed to last season's game against San Diego State. Smith threw five touchdown passes in a 51-28 victory over the host Aztecs. "They had one goal in mind - that was knock him out of the game," Meyer said. "He had one of the best games I've seen a quarterback have. The more he got hit, the stronger he got, and that talks about his toughness and his competitiveness."

* According to the league, Shawntae Spencer was fined $7,500 for his facemask of Larry Fitzgerald during Monday night's win over Arizona ...

* Mike Singletary confirmed today that Joe Staley would start at left tackle on Sunday. Barry Sims is questionable with a knee injury; Staley is listed as probable ...

* Despite stating earlier in the week that Brandon Jones is the 49ers' most sure-handed punt returner, Singletary said Arnaz Battle would handle the job in what promises to be cold, if not windy, Philadelphia ...

-- 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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