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Mike Singletary On The Sidelines
Mike Singletary may be the best head coach in the NFL at assessing the heart and desire of a player. He is a no nonsense leader who demands hard work, loyalty and a passion for the game. Singletary is a master motivator and typically gets his players to give their all for him and the team.
There is no doubt about his strengths as a head coach. He is a leader of men. However, there are questions about his strategic game management skills.
In 2009, there were far too many instances of questionable strategic decision making, for it to be a mere coincidence. Singletary must make decisive and correct decisions, because the 49ers can ill afford to lose any games they should win.
The most glaring area of uncertainty seemed to revolve around clock management and the use of his timeouts. There were times when he used timeouts early and on defense. I have no problem with that, if the coach genuinely thinks he needs to rally his defense for a big stop. However, this approach sometimes left his team short on time outs in key situations, later in the game.
Similarly there were instances when Singletary did not call his timeouts quickly enough, especially towards the end of the half. The timeout just wasted away, unused, and the Niners lost a scoring opportunity.
Another area of indecisiveness seemed to revolve around when to go for it on fourth down, as opposed to punting or trying a field goal. There seemed to be a lot of confusion when the 49ers tried to go for fourth down conversions. A more experienced Alex Smith should help in this regard.
The final area of concern I have is when Singletary accepts or declines a penalty. A prime example of this happened in the preseason game against the Vikings. It was second down, ten yards to go and the Niners stopped Minnesota for no gain on a running play.
The Vikings were called for holding. The decision was whether to give Minnesota a third and ten or a second and twenty. Singletary chose to decline the penalty bringing up a third down and ten yards to go. I believe a second and twenty is much more difficult to convert than a third and ten.
The Vikings converted the third and ten for a first down and kept their drive alive. Hindsight is always 20-20, but whether it worked out or not, I felt it was a bad decision when he made it.
These kinds of strategic, game management issues can win or lose games. With the Niners likely to play a lot of close games this season, coach Mike Singletary must make the right decisions to give his team the best chance to win.