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Friday, October 1, 2010
Michael Lewis' complaints feed perceptions

By Mike Sando

The latest details on the Michael Lewis front do nothing to suppress visions of the San Francisco 49ers spiraling out of control following their 0-3 start.

On one level, Lewis is an aging veteran made expendable by Taylor Mays' addition, Reggie Smith's development and the concussion problems Lewis experienced last season.

On another level, that Lewis would ask for his release and stay home rather than accompany the 49ers to Atlanta -- with the team in crisis more broadly -- raises more questions about coach Mike Singletary's leadership. Plenty of veteran players have grudgingly accepted reduced roles for the sake of the team. Lewis would presumably go that route if he respected the head coach enough.

If Lewis can be this unhappy and show it in this way, what are other players thinking and how might that affect the team in the future? It was one thing when unproven Kentwan Balmer forced a trade and backup running back Glen Coffee opted for retirement during camp. It's another thing when a proven veteran player and presumed leader checks out in Week 4.

There's always a danger in reading too much into how one individual's complaints affect the rest of team. It's tough not to view Lewis' situation in the context of the 49ers' recent issues. How the 49ers play Sunday and beyond will help make better sense of this one.