Jimmy Clausen will be the No. 2 quarterback this Sunday. (Photo by John Clark)
CHARLOTTE – Jimmy Clausen may not be happy about it, but the rookie is dealing with his demotion like a professional.
“Obviously I’m disappointed in the decision, but at the end of the day that’s the coach’s decision and I’m for whatever they think is best for the team,” said Clausen, who was 0-3 as the team’s starter.
Clausen said he was told the Panthers want to go with Matt Moore at quarterback because he has more playing experience, which reiterates what coach John Fox said Wednesday in his first public statement since making the change.
When asked if he regrets making the sudden switch to Clausen in Week 3, Fox said, “No, but it didn't help much. We were 0-2 when we made the last switch. We're just looking for improvement so we're going with experience."
Clausen was undefeated as a high school quarterback, so the only time he’s ever been benched came during his freshman season at Notre Dame. After losing four games, Irish coach Charlie Weis put him on the bench for a couple of weeks to regroup, although Clausen was a little dinged up at the time, too.
After a few weeks of watching Clausen returned and played well for the rest of the season.
Clausen said it was beneficial at that point to him and he hopes it will be again this year.
“I was out there for a few games as a freshman just trying to get used to the speed and everything and then I went to sidelines and watched for a few weeks and things did slow down for me,” Clausen said. “Hopefully things will slow down for me here, too.”
San Francisco’s Alex Smith, who knows a thing or two about rough starts in the NFL at quarterback, said his advice to Clausen would be to hang in there.
“Absolutely, for sure, almost guaranteed he will get another opportunity, maybe even shortly here,” Smith said. “That’s not really the question; the question is will he have done everything in his power to be ready for that moment because he might not know when that will come.
“From this day forward will he continue to work and get ready for that unknown opportunity and how ready will he be, because that’s all you really can control. You don’t know when it’s going to come or how it’s going to come but are you going to do everything in your power to be ready for it?”
INJURY UPDATE: The Panthers were without three players on Wednesday as TE Dante Rosario (knee), LB Jamar Williams (neck) and RT Jeff Otah (knee) sat out practice. OG Travelle Wharton (knee) was limited.
Meanwhile, WR Steve Smith (ankle) and SS Sherrod Martin (concussion) returned to practice.
“I feel good,” Martin said. “I’m ready to get back out there.”
CAUSING TURNOVERS: San Francisco has really struggled this season with turnovers.
They’ve turned the ball over 15 times and taken it away only seven, leaving them last in the league with a minus-8 turnover ratio.
“We have to continue to emphasize them,” 49ers coach Mike Singletary said. “It’s something that we continue to work towards and finding that balance between guys not just focusing on turnovers but doing their jobs and understanding that turnovers will come.”
Carolina isn’t much better with a turnover ratio of minus-4.
THOMAS ACTIVE?: With Smith returning to action, the Panthers are now crowded with six receivers on the roster.
Newcomer Devin Thomas, who was claimed off waivers from Washington, thinks he might get a jersey on Sunday. The Panthers normally only activate three or four receivers per game.
“Thankfully I don’t play the same position as Smitty, so I don't have to worry about that," said Thomas, who may be the most physically imposing receiver the Panthers have ever had. "But I think I'm going be in the mix. I think the more I know in this offense, the more I'll play."
LONG ROAD AHEAD: When the 49ers pack up and travel to Charlotte on Friday, they will be leaving for an 11-day trip.
After Sunday’s game, the 49ers head to London to face the Denver Broncos. In an interesting fact, the Panthers are 2-0 as a franchise when facing teams the week before they head off to play a game in Europe.
“We’re heading straight over after the game,” said Forty Niners QB Alex Smith. “It’s going to make for an interesting week here and I think it’s important for us to focus on Carolina and we can’t look past it and clump the two games together. We have to stay focused on the task at hand and when London comes we will deal with it then.”
SELLOUT UPDATE: The Panthers have fewer than 1,000 tickets to sell to avoid a television blackout for Sunday’s game. If you're interested in attending Sunday's game, contact the Panthers ticket office at 704-358-7800 or any Ticketmaster location.