Singletary, And All That Implies

December 11

49ers President Jed York with Gary Radnich on KNBR Thursday pronounced that Mike Singletary is their coach, and will be their coach “for a long time.” Given York’s relative youth a long time could be a year. This pronouncement came a few days after another painful road loss and a spate of second-guessing among fans.

The great thing about the second-guessing is that fans still care. Home games aren’t being blacked out yet. The 49ers are at least relevant. They’re also playing better than the have the last few years, although the 5-7 record doesn’t reflect that.

The 49ers are still in transition and still don’t have the talent to be a playoff team, and that is driving fans crazy. Singletary entered the season with some big talk about making the postseason, but what do you expect him to say? The problem is, when you don’t deliver, you’re diminished in the eyes of fans.

Singletary has some obvious flaws in game management, partly owing to the fact that he hasn’t been a head coach anywhere until he took over the 49ers a year ago. Calling a time out before the first play Sunday in Seattle, and three time outs in the first quarter, is a sign of confusion. There have been numerous delay of game penalties on offense this season, another sign of confusion.

The hiring of Jimmy Raye as offensive coordinator was uninspired, but was made for a couple of reasons: 1) He didn’t want an ego battle as he had with Mike Martz and 2) He wanted a guy who was going to stick around. The problem with guys who stick around is that they’re also not in demand, and there’s a reason for that.

There have been obvious improvements. The 49ers are a far better road team, although they haven’t learned yet to “finish,” Singletary’s pet word. This team continues to play hard for him. Singletary has done well to make adjustments this season, including changing starting quarterbacks and offensive schemes, and incorporating Michael Crabtree four games in.

The offensive line has been held together with bailing wire, forcing a change that Singletary might not have otherwise considered. As a result the 49ers have stumbled upon a possible quarterback of the future, who happened to be their quarterback of the past. The emergence of Alex Smith and the spread-ier offense is probably the biggest story of the season.

Singletary lapses into Nolan-speak at times when he talks about “execution,” but he has also stepped up to take the blame for certain moves, including the reverse punt return fiasco against the Seahawks last Sunday. He has proven he’s willing to take the heat, and I don’t think anyone can knock his personal integrity. The players respond to a Hall of Famer, but also to a person who is accountable himself.

After a bizarre beginning a year ago, Singletary has shown the ability to adapt, adopt and improve. He will need to continue to do so, and prove that he’s a good judge of talent, for the 49ers to reach the next level. Singletary may or may not be the guy to take them there.

Bottom line, it’s too early to tell.

In a business of snap judgements, I’m ditching the handbook and refraining from doing so. People like to make those fast-food decisions so they can say they were first if Singletary meets his demise as coach. I think you have to give him at least another year and more importantly, the Yorks think so too. If the Niners aren’t a playoff team a year from now, then I might join the wolf pack.

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2 Responses to “Singletary, And All That Implies”

  1. matt Says:

    What do you think of the group of folks that think Singletary is just biding his time to go and head coach for the Bears?

  2. raywood Says:

    Would not surprise me greatly.

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