SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Coach Mike Singletary is a straight-shooter almost to a fault, never one to sugarcoat when it comes to his San Francisco 49ers and their performance.
His opening statement after beating the Denver Broncos 17-16 in an exhibition game Friday night: "Good evening. Thank God for preseason."
How about an assessment of his quarterback candidates, Shaun Hill and Alex Smith?
"Decent job. ... Nothing to really make you jump one way or the other."
When asked about San Francisco's pass rush: "What'd you think of it? Nonexistent."
And has he thought ahead to a potential matchup with Michael Vick four months from now, when the Niners play at Philadelphia on Dec. 20?
"You know what? You guys are way out there," Singletary said Saturday.
Singletary acknowledged from the start of training camp - his first in charge - the daunting amount of work to be done for an organization that's endured a franchise-worst six straight losing seasons.
He offered praise to emerging right tackle Adam Snyder and veteran tight end Vernon Davis, who caught two passes from Hill for 41 yards during the team's opening scoring drive.
Singletary refused to speculate on the status of running back Thomas Clayton, who was scheduled for an MRI later Saturday after spraining his right knee in the fourth quarter Friday.
Fullback Zak Keasey broke his arm Friday but Singletary didn't give any details on how long he might be sidelined. The coach did say the 49ers might need to add a player.
"We're in discussions," he said. "It all just depends how things work out. We're right now kind of looking at all our injuries."
The Niners were outgained 341-278 on offense and had defensive lapses, too. Denver was a two-point conversion away from a likely victory in the closing minutes.
Singletary's players seem to have caught on to his no-nonsense approach, and realize the team is far from polished.
"We came out kind of slow but we got better as time went on," safety Reggie Smith said. "We still have a lot of stuff to do. Some of the things we did were just mental busts. We've got to be smarter and more technically sound."
San Francisco will hold four joint practices with Oakland over two days at the Raiders' wine country training complex this coming week in Napa, Calif., before the teams play Saturday night at Candlestick Park.
Singletary hasn't said who will start at quarterback in the game.
Among Hill's completions to Davis, one was a 17-yard strike on third-and-15 with Davis under pressure from three defenders. Hill went 5-3 over the Niners' final eight games last season, while Smith sat out all year after re-injuring his repaired right shoulder.
Smith was 5 of 7 for 22 yards and a 3-yard touchdown pass to Brit Miller.
"The preseason is about us, and it's about us doing our job and going out there and executing and getting better," Smith said. "You've got to learn from it. There are a few plays out there I'd like to have again, but you've got to get better and not let them happen again."
New offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye - the 49ers' seventh in seven years - said afterward he'd like both quarterbacks to get rid of the ball faster. Holding onto the ball too long led to sacks on both QBs.
Has Singletary been swayed either way by his two quarterback candidates?
"I have not, no," he said. "I certainly don't see any separation like, 'Wow, this guy was glaring.' I don't want to say anything right now. I don't want to play anything into anything. I don't want to assume anything."
Yet he did say Hill is "less of a mystery" than Smith based on his 2008 finish, which helped Singletary get the interim tag taken off his title. Hill also went 2-0 as a fill-in starter the previous year.
There is some thought that he will be named the regular-season starter based on that experience.
Singletary said he's happy to have more evaluation time in upcoming games that don't count before the team's season opener Sept. 13 at Arizona.
"The execution wasn't as sharp as you want it to be," Singletary said. "Thank God we got a few of them."
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