San Francisco 49ers: Mike Singletary's 2009 Report Card

Josh FathollahiContributor IJanuary 10, 2010

SEATTLE , WA - DECEMBER 06:  Head Coach Mike Singletary of the San Francisco 49ers watches a play against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on December 6, 2009 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

LEADERSHIP/MOTIVATIONAL SKILLS: (A+) This is Samurai Mike's bread and butter. If I ever had to get psyched up for anything, I would want this man giving me an inspirational speech beforehand. He gets his message across with both power and clarity and you know that he is truly speaking from his heart. He is a well respected figure in the NFL (except for when he dropped his pants) and when he speaks, the players listen.

Just look at the transformation pro bowl tight-end Vernon Davis went through after Singletary called him out and sent him to the showers in the middle of a game last season. Singletary might not be an X's and O's mastermind, but he definitely has the ability to bring out the best in players, and for that he gets an A+.

I am on the fence with this aspect of Singletary's gameplan. I trust his judgement on character and talent to a certain extent, yet I feel that he lets the coordinators influence his decisions too much.

For starters, he was trotting safety Mark Roman on the field alongside Michael Lewis for the first 7 weeks of the season. That is 7 weeks too long to realize that Mark Roman is complete garbage and that Dashon Goldson was the man for the job.

It also took almost half of his rookie coaching season to finally take the keys away from the delusional Mike Martz and bench J.T. O'Sullivan in place of the unsung hero Shaun Hill. The team performed at a much more fluid level with Hill at the helms. Sure, Hill couldn't chuck the ball inaccurately down the field while frantically scrambling around like J.T.O did, he was able to provide leadership and complete those short, high-percentage passes to keep the chains moving. Singletary realized that Hill gave the 49ers the best chance to win every Sunday. And one of Mike's main mottos for his coaching campaign is that he "WANTS WINNERS."

Yet halfway through this current season, Singletary went against his own motto and benched Hill and his winning record and named perennial bust Alex Smith starter. While Alex Smith put up some healthy stats, most of it came in garbage time and he was only able to operate in the collegic spread offense which is unacceptable for a professional NFL quarterback. Not to mention that the team was sub .500 with Smith as the starter, not what you would call a "winner."

I feel that the decision to switch to Smith came from the man upstairs. I am speaking of Jed York, not a higher religious power (although Singletary is a highly religious man, so if he felt that THE man upstairs wanted him to put Smith in, I am sure he would). York probably wanted to see what he had in Alex Smith before parting ways with the underachiever. So I can't put the full blame on Sing for that one, but this is why he should learn to go with his gut instead of giving way to coordinators and corporate suits. I am sure he will learn to do just that as he progresses in his coaching career. But until then, he gets a C.

TIME MANAGEMENT: (D-) Singletary was horrible at time management this season. He would constantly burn timeouts early in the 1st and 3rd quarters. Singletary would also make low percentage challenges at costly times, often leaving the 49ers helpless at the end of games when they are unable to stop the clock. The only reason he doesn't receive an F is because I really liked how he used timeouts to settle the defense when they were on the wrong end of a lengthy drive. It is similar to how NBA coaches use timeouts to kill the opponent's momentum.

OVERALL GRADE: (B-) While his coaching style is a bit unorthodox, he has certainly showed that he is more than ready to lead a team to victory. And he is a far superior coach than any Nolans or Ericksons that have blown through this city in recent years. All he needs is the front office to provide some real talent for this team to get to a championship. Regardless, this franchise has definitely righted the ship that was lost in Bermuda's triangle for most of this past decade. And Mike Singletary is captain of that ship, pants or no pants.