For Mike Singletery, head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, the future is now. He has already established himself as the first winning 49ers' coach over the past six seasons with a 5-4 record in an interim capacity.
Can he secure an NFC West Title in his first full season as the 49ers head coach?
The answer is a resounding yes—IF he doesn't lose sight of the very things that have already made him special to those 49er faithful who are hungry for a return to the playoffs.
To take the 49ers back to the promised land, Singletary must continue to do all of those things which earned him a 5-4 record last year, most noticeably:
1. Give the Kids a Chance
Singletary needs to continue to believe in his players and enable them to believe in themselves.
When Shaun Hill told him he would regret taking him out of the Rams game last season, Singletary gave him another chance. Hill went on to lead the team to a 17-16 comeback victory over St. Louis on the road.
When Singletary saw what he had in practice in Chilo Rachal—a 6'4", 300-plus pound backup offensive guard taken in the second round of last year's draft—he quickly elevated him to the starting lineup.
Sure, injuries may have accelerated such a move, but Singletary still believed in what Rachal could do and gave him the chance.
2. Be Decisive and Don't Be Afraid To Take Risks
When Singletary told his tight end Vernon Davis to take a seat on the bench last season during a game, right or wrong, he was clearly in command of the situation and of the team.
When Singletary told J.T. O'Sullivan he was being taken out of the game and replaced by Shaun Hill, he was decisive and in command.
He needs to continue going with his gut feelings and making the moves he believes are needed to win now, not next week.
3. Play To Win
Play to win every single down of every single game. Coach like the future is now. Coach every down as if it is the last minute of the Super Bowl and your team is down by one point.
Let your passion continue to drive you to greatness. It is what has served you well all of your life, Mike.
Like you, the 49er fans want winners. We already know you are a winner, having proved it on the field, winning a Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears and being elected to the NFL Hall of Fame.
We don't care what you may say in an emotional outburst after a game. We don't care what outfit you might choose to wear on the sidelines. We just want a head coach—one who wants to win as bad as the fans of this proud franchise.
The fans believe in you, Mike. You have all of them fully on board. There is nothing you need to change about yourself.
Just coach like your heart tells you to and the wins and playoffs will surely come.