Niners don't see late surge as auditions for 2009 Print
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Monday, 01 December 2008 16:32
NFL Headline News

 SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -Although two victories in three games qualify as a big surge for the San Francisco 49ers, Shaun Hill and Mike Singletary know they shouldn't get comfortable in their new jobs any time soon.
The quarterback and his interim coach realize they're both far from certain to return to the 49ers (4-8) next season, even after revitalizing a team that dropped seven of its first nine games this fall during its sixth consecutive non-winning season.
San Francisco is sure to make big changes next year after firing Mike Nolan in mid-October. Singletary has been around the NFL long enough to know he might not be involved in them, no matter how well he does in his first head coaching job.
So when the Hall of Fame ex-linebacker wraps up the season in four weeks, he hopes his work will speak for itself. Sunday's 10-3 victory over Buffalo, as ugly as it was, could say plenty.
tary said Monday. ``Hopefully, the case is set. ... Hopefully, they can look at what has happened and see for themselves what it means. And if it's not there, it's not there. I can't really think about all of the other stuff.''
Singletary is 2-3 since taking over for Nolan, and his players credit him with both an improved focus in practice and a tightened simplicity in the Niners' game plans. Both were on display during a cold-weather win over the Bills in which San Francisco scored the game's only touchdown on the opening possession and then hunkered down to survive a defensive struggle with the help of the right goalpost, which connected with two failed field goal attempts by Buffalo's Rian Lindell.
In Hill's fourth consecutive start since taking over for J.T. O'Sullivan, he won on the road for the first time with a 14-for-23 effort for 161 yards. He didn't throw an interception, and the 49ers recovered twice when he fumbled the wet, slippery ball.
Hill was hardly spectacular in the Niners' 195-yard offensive performance, but he underlined his reputation as an efficient quarterback who can keep his team in most games simply through caution and steady competence. After just six career starts, Hill doesn't know whether that steadiness will be enough to earn a long-term job in San Francisco.
ught of it,'' Hill said. ``There's nothing I can do to help or hurt myself for next year other than go out and play. All that stuff will play out in due time, and everything after that is out of my hands, so I just go out and try to play well.''
Singletary is slightly more enthusiastic about Hill than himself.
``What he's doing right now is exactly what I knew he could do, and that's just manage that game,'' the coach said. ``But now, as I ask him to take it to the next level, he's the one that has to decide, 'Can I get to that next level?' ... It's on him to prove whether he can do it, but certainly the opportunity is there right now.''
San Francisco's defense gave up 350 yards, but limited Buffalo to one field goal in four trips inside the 49ers 20. For all of their multiple faults on defense, the Niners are the NFC's best team in those short scoring situations, allowing touchdowns on just 42.2 percent of their opponents' drives inside the 20.
Singletary cited several standout defensive players Monday, including linebacker Patrick Willis, who made 14 tackles and forced a fumble with a painful injury to his ribs. Singletary also praised defensive back Donald Strickland, whose frequent contributions popped out during film study on the long flight home from Buffalo.
``They're just allowing me to play a little more, and it's great to get the opportunity to make some plays,'' said Strickland, a San Francisco native. ``That win definitely gave us a little bit more confidence. We set out a job and a task, and we definitely performed. We're building up to something better.''
Notes: The 49ers will re-sign LB Ahmad Brooks, who was waived Saturday so the club could activate WR Chris Hannon from the practice squad. Brooks, who hasn't cracked the lineup since joining San Francisco on Sept. 1, still was at the 49ers' training complex Monday. ... CB Nate Clements injured his thumb during Sunday's game, but is expected to practice this week. ... LB Patrick Willis (ribs) expects to play, while the 49ers don't know about WR Arnaz Battle, S Dashon Goldson or WR Josh Morgan. KR Allen Rossum probably will miss another week with his ankle injury.

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