NFL: Ulbrich praises 49ers’ Franklin for his play at nose tackle
By Daniel Brown
San Jose Mercury News
Aubrayo Franklin was in the middle of one of his least favorite activities — talking about himself — when teammate Jeff Ulbrich interrupted.
Ulbrich then delivered a one-man infomercial.
“Anybody who doesn’t recognize that this is one of the top three nose tackles in the NFL shouldn’t be allowed to write about football. Period,” Ulbrich said Friday. “The hands. The technique. The steadiness with which he plays — everything.”
Act now, and he’ll throw in a Pro Bowl vote absolutely free!
Even before Ulbrich’s plug, Franklin probably hit the national radar screen during a 10-6 victory over the Bears. In a game on the NFL Network, Franklin became the first nose tackle this season to register an interception.
He picked off a Jay Cutler pass near the goal line on the 18th play of a Chicago drive in the second quarter. That set the tone for Cutler’s ghastly five-interception night.
Like the 49ers defensive backs, Franklin knew what the Bears quarterback was going to do. Chicago had just tried running the ball twice. So the 317-pounder expected a pass and drifted in front of tight end Kellen Davis.
Cutler drilled Franklin in the chest, prompting former 49ers cornerback Eric Davis to say on Comcast’s postgame show, “That might have been the worst throw in the history of quarterbacking.”
Franklin, a seventh-year pro, wasn’t about to hand it back. It was his first interception since his days as a linebacker at Science Hill (Tenn.) He kept the ball as a souvenir and planned on sending it to his mother, Chantina Carter.
—The 49ers’ five interceptions masked a long list of other problems. Their offense was outgained in yardage 350-216 and failed to capitalize on the turnover frenzy. Consider that the last time five different 49ers had an interception, the team breezed to a 31-7 victory on Sept. 7, 1986, at Tampa Bay.
This time, the game’s outcome came down to the final play. Still, 49ers coach Mike Singletary said Smith did a good job and that the offense did just enough to win.
“Yes, we would have liked to have gotten more points,” he said. “I think that will come.”
—Smith’s passer rating is 79.5; Shaun Hill’s passer rating was 79.6 at the time he lost his starting job. Smith’s lone interception against the Bears came on a deep shot down the left sideline for Michael Crabtree.
Smith acknowledged that the two need to continue to improve their chemistry. “No question,” he said. “It’s something we need to work on more together. There are times where he’s thinking one thing, and I’m thinking another.”
—The 49ers had nine penalties for season-worst 77 yards. Most vexing was an unnecessary roughness call on cornerback Tarell Brown in the third quarter. Singletary called it “inexcusable.”
“That’s the last time this year that you will see us have those many penalties because that’s one of the things we can’t do,” he said. “We’re a disciplined team, and we’ve got to do a much better job of that.”
—Regarding Vernon Davis, Singletary said that he thinks the Bears “got in his head early on.” Before the game, Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye confronted Davis about his critical remarks about the Chicago defense. Singletary said the extra emotions contributed to Davis twice jumping offside.
“That’s the kind of stuff you don’t want to get into because it makes it about you,” he said. “Vernon and I talked about that before and after the game.”
—Isaac Bruce’s ankle should be healthy in time for the Green Bay game next week. But Josh Morgan will remain the starter. Singletary said Bruce would continue to play, but the 49ers want to see what Morgan can do when give an extended chance.
—The NFL Network reported that the game was watched in an average of 2.75 million homes — topping last year’s opener by 29 percent and ranking as the most-watched season opener in the four seasons of “Thursday Night Football.”