SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -Mike Singletary could have spent the San Francisco 49ers' bye weekend mired in a marathon of cramming, obsessing and overcoaching. Instead, he flew to Baylor for a relaxing weekend with his two kids who attend his alma mater.
After 3 1/2 years as Mike Nolan's right-hand man, the 49ers' interim coach already knows what problems he has in San Francisco (2-6), and he knows a whole new set of strategies won't fix them. His players simply must play better and harder, and Singletary believes he can inspire that effort, starting Monday night in Arizona.
Singletary said the 49ers might make ``maybe a little personnel change here or there, but not the scheme so much. It's making sure that the guys understand what we're striving to do going forward with our attitude, the way we practice and the things that we can do better.''
After an initial practice Tuesday, the 49ers formally went back to work Thursday with a relatively light mood in the locker room, considering the club's five consecutive losses and the coaching change that has thrown everybody's future into question.
Although the offense is in transition from quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan to Shaun Hill, not much will change in offensive coordinator Mike Martz's play-calling, Singletary believes. Hill also won't have the services of receiver Arnaz Battle, who's out for at least one week with a sprained right foot.
Hill was his usual nonchalant self this week before taking charge of the first-team offense. Even the thought of taking a snap in a road game for the first time in his seven-season NFL career doesn't bug him much.
``It was great to kind of get away and relax a little bit and get ready for this final stretch here,'' said Hill, who led San Francisco to two home victories late last season in his only two NFL starts. ``I think that everybody came back focused and ready to go. ... It's an opportunity for us really to turn this thing around. Our backs are going to be against the wall the whole second half of the season. We'd better respond to that.''
Singletary repeatedly has stressed the importance of improving the 49ers' physical play, singling it out as an area where he could immediately improve their fortunes. San Francisco has been outmuscled on defense in nearly every game this season, while Martz's schemes aren't necessarily known for their grind-it-out aspects.
Yet the 49ers believe Martz's offense can be a physical force when properly calibrated.
were together doing great things (in St. Louis), they had a physicality about their offense,'' Singletary said. ``They could run the ball. Marshall Faulk could run the ball. Their offensive lines could come downhill. They could run between the tackles, so I think that's something that Mike Martz would welcome.''
But running back Frank Gore also thinks Hill will make good decisions, many of which will result in getting the ball in Gore's hands on checkdowns - the short passes thrown to Gore after a quarterback decides his downfield receivers aren't open.
``He's going to come out and get ready to throw a lot of checkdowns, make a lot of good decisions and help us win,'' said Gore, who already leads the 49ers with 32 receptions. ``I will have a lot more catches in this game. ... He's getting his opportunity to play, and he did a great job last time. We've just got to stop making mistakes and start making plays.''
San Francisco probably will need to score plenty of points to contend with the Cardinals, who have the NFL's highest-scoring offense. The Niners' defense has been mostly dismal this year, and Kurt Warner had little trouble moving the ball on three long, clock-consuming drives in Arizona's 23-13 victory at Candlestick Park in both clubs' opener.
Notes: Battle, the 49ers' second-leading receiver with 24 catches for 318 yards, has played in 42 consecutive games. The six-year veteran probably will be replaced by Jason Hill as the 49ers' slot receiver, though Bryant Johnson also should get more playing time against his former team. Battle said he was injured on his final catch in the fourth quarter of San Francisco's loss to Seattle two weeks ago. ... RT Barry Sims will be out for at least the next week with a sprained left ankle. Jonas Jennings will replace him if he's ready to return from a separated shoulder. If not, Adam Snyder will attempt to hold down the position. ... Jennings and DT Ray McDonald (knee) were limited in practice on Thursday, while TE Delanie Walker returned to full participation despite his injured elbow.

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