Mike Singletary: Five Coaches to Keep an Eye on
As SunTzu says, "...if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a thousand battles..." If Mike Singletary wants to lead his team to the playoffs, these coaches stand in his way. There are a several new coaches and new offensive coordinators on 49er's path to a winning record. Singletary should pay close attention SunTzu's word's of wisdom.
Ken Whisenhunt: Offensive Innovator
Wouldn't Mike be thrilled to achieve what Ken did last season, but with success comes the swarm of other teams cherry picking your coaching staff. With Todd Haley, former Cardinals offensive coordinator, now at Kansas City, Kurt Warner, and the offense need to adapt. Could this be an opportunity for the defensive minded Singletary?
For all the praise Ken Whisenhunt has deservedly received, he is 17 - 15 in regular season after two years as an NFL head coach. His team lacked passion in the middle of last season and they came very close to missing the post-season.
He has a talented team, a great post-season record and the bitterness of a close loss in the Super Bowl to keep the fires burning in the bellies this season. To win leadership in the NFC west, Singletary must conquer the Cardinals or he may find the door blocked for years to come.
Jim Mora: Second Chances
Jim Mora picks up a Seattle team shaped by Mike Holmgren. On the surface this appears to be a pretty stable situation, no changes at coordinator and an experienced coach (Mora was head coach of the Atlanta Falcons) replacing SuperBowl winning coach Mike Holmgren. Holmgren shepherded his teams to the play-offs 12 times in 17 years. Mora has big shoes to fill.
My problem with Mora was the squandering of M. Vick. Regardless of Vick's soulless cruelty, he was at one time a superlative talent. As head coach in Atlanta, Mora failed to develop Vick's talents and it hurt his team. Average coaches squeeze every drop of blood out of their meat lockers, great coaches develop great players. Mora has a second chance, but I doubt Seattle has a great leader at the helm.
Steve Spagnuolo: Bikini Bottom
The defensive minded Spagnuolo has his work cut out for him. New offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has a thicket of over the hill QB's and the hard hitting Steven Jackson. A new system can't hurt, but transitions present challenges.
The good news is that the team has bottomed out after loosing 10 straight games to finish off last season. 49er fans are familiar with extended loosing streaks. I've heard it said that to loose that much you don't need to be just awful, you need to be awfully unlucky too.
So maybe the Ram's luck will change, but for the moment Spag and the team are swimming with Spongebob.
Mike Smith: Role Model
Mike should keep an eye on Mike. When the Atlanta Falcon's roll into Candlestick (and I'm not calling it anything else ever) on Oct. 11, it will be bell weather time for Mr. Singletary. The 49ers will be four games into the season and needing to make a statement. That game will be a test of how the 49ers are developing, because Mr. Smith has been where Mr. Singletary wants to go; 11-5 and in the playoffs.
The Falcon's have a punishing running game and a passing attack that keeps secondaries in check. If Mr. Smith goes to SF with an improved defense, it could be a long day in dog town for the 49ers.
Few rookie coaches have ever been as behind the eight ball as Mike Smith was at the beginning of last season and it was a remarkable achievement to lead the Falcon's to the playoffs. Maybe there is a lesson in there for Mr. Singletary.
Jim Caldwell: Welcome to Rookie Town
Another team in transition. Following up Tony Dungy isn't going to be fun, but Jim Caldwell does have a talented team and a future hall of fame quarterback. The 49ers will meet the Colts on the road in Week 8. Jim must be a hardworking guy, but he has seen little success as a head coach. At Wake Forest Caldwell went 26-63. I'm sure he earned this opportunity, but will he be able to improve upon Dungy's team.
Caldwell has helped build a team that is known for quickness and precision. By week 8 the success of the Colt's transition from Dungy to Caldwell should be clear, let us hope Mr. Singletary finds a weakness and exploits it.