Mike Ditka wrote a letter to the legendary Chicago Bears owner and football pioneer "Papa Bear" George Halas in 1972, right after he retired. He wrote, "I'm not ready, but I am going to be. One day, I'd like to coach the Chicago Bears."
Ditka then spent 13 years, in various positions, under Tom Landry with the Dallas Cowboys, starting as the bottom assistant and steadily rising and learning completely about the game he was to coach.
In the end, he was ready, and he became the head coach of the Chicago Bears and he won the championship.
Mike Singletary was on that championship team and is currently the coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
The difference between Singletary and Ditka is that Singletary is woefully inexperienced.
In the past 10 years, only three coaches have been promoted to head coach without having any coordinating experience—Jim Zorn, Raheem Morris, and Mike Singletary. One has already been fired, the other is soon to be fired, and the last, only time will tell.
In two years, his main coaching highlights have been off the field. One, sending Vernon Davis off for absolutely no reason and then using that to give off the impression that he only cares about winners. Two, pulling his pants down at a halftime meeting to make a point.
The thing about his situation is, the 49ers are already a good team. So the way Singletary can hurt them is narrow. The team has a lot of talent, but having an inexperienced coach means, that the simple tweaks normal coaches make, will not be done and this team will constantly underachieve in big moments.
X's and O's
He has only two ways he can help a football team: 1. making rah-rah speeches that players usually tune out within two years and 2. the linebacker corps. He should not be making any other decisions about any other position.
Rex Ryan is another who is known for the rah-rah speeches, but also for being one of the smartest and best defensive coordinators in the past 10 years, who knows all the X's and O's. The first quality is moot without the other.
The problem with Singletary is that he is not very smart. Yet his ego is at a point where he feels he is smart about all aspects of the game.
Nate Davis and David Carr
For example, when making a decision about the quarterback position, a normal coach would look at decision-making, accuracy, quick release, quick feet, arm strength, and playmaking ability under pressure. Singletary had a choice between Nate Davis, a very promising second-year player, and David Carr, a former first round bust now journeyman.
What Singletary looked at when evaluating Nate Davis and David Carr, was what they did when they had to scramble and get a yard or two, instead of their numbers and how they attacked the defense with their arms. Now, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees never scramble, and when they do, they slide. David Carr jumped and Nate Davis slid.
The 49ers are the only team in the NFL to put a first round bust from nine years ago above one of the most promising quarterbacking prospects in the league on the depth chart.
It seems like a simple choice, but Singletary feels that one unnecessary play in the preseason displays the potential of the two quarterbacks.
The future for the 49ers
The 49ers are in a precarious position, because the talent evaluators and the front office are very competent. They constantly pick good talent.
But they have an inexperienced and, even worse, dumb head coach.
This means that they will constantly underachieve against well coached teams and will never have great success in the playoffs, where coaching is a huge part of the game. It will be first blamed on the quarterback and then the team and then finally it will be on him.
Singletary will get fired between one and four years, which all depends on how the team plays despite its coaching.
He should be coaching in high school, where brains aren't necessary and decisions like that are based on the simple thought processes.
As mentioned earlier, Mike Ditka got the job after 14 years of constant apprenticeship and moving up in the coaching ranks, while learning all aspects of the game and he went on to combine it with his rah rah speeches and presence to become a Super Bowl-winning coach.
He was ready.
Unfortunately, Mike Singletary will never be ready.