San Francisco 49ers Ownership Allowed Mike Singletary To Fail With Talented Team

Ted SillanpaaAnalyst ISeptember 28, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 26: Head coach Mike Singletary of the San Francisco 49ers talks with quarterback Alex Smith #11 during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on September 26, 2010 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chiefs won 31-10. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers’ fall from NFC West favorite to team on the brink is explained pretty simply.

The York family ownership has run the franchise into the ground. Just as owner Eddie DeBartolo could do almost nothing wrong in his time at the top, his sister and the rest of the Yorks have done almost nothing right.

Jed York could become a helluva businessman, maybe even a competent NFL executive, at some point. He’s president-owner of the 49ers now at age 28 — roughly six years out of college and with no experience running any business.

That explains how the Yorks could so quickly and easily fall for the idea of hiring charismatic, inexperienced Mike Singletary to become the head coach after Mike Nolan’s disastrous reign finally ended.

Singletary is supremely confident. He knows defense and players love him .. er, loved him. Singletary came to San Francisco after working briefly for the Baltimore Ravens where he worked for Nolan.

Singletary really has nothing on his resume to have given the Yorks the impression he can be a successful NFL head coach. That’s another reason that the 49ers are 0-3 and in disarray after Monday’s dismissal of offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye.

Singletary’s a Hall of Fame player with an almost regal bearing and the type of personal discipline and toughness that appeals to certain folks who don’t know that there’s more to coaching the game than brazen confidence, a desire to “hit people in the mouth” and a never-ending quest to find “winners.”


Raye was the only experienced offensive coordinator who would take the 49ers job under Singletary. So, when the 67-year-old left saying he was just doing the job the way Singletary wanted it done – he was telling the truth.

Raye installed the conservative, grind-it-out offense Singletary wanted to score just enough to let a stellar defense win games.

Singletary’s response as the grind-it-out approach failed, again, reveals another glaring problem with the 49ers. He simply grunted, “We will run the ball” and “We will play defense.” It takes considerable arrogance for a coach who won’t make a single play himself to believe he can impose his will on a game.

The fact that the 67-year-old Raye was hired after foreward thinking coaches interviewed, then wanted nothing to do with the 49ers really meant that those proven, younger coordinators wanted nothing to do with working for Singletary.

So, let’s see, the 49ers have inept ownership and a head coach who has yet to prove he can manage a game, let alone coach the club into the playoffs. And, now, they’ve got an offensive coordinator who has very little NFL coaching experience … nice.

Mike Johnson is in an unenviable position, isn’t he?

The 49ers lost general manager Scott McCloughan right before the spring NFL draft. McCloughan was the guy who put together the team that NFL analysts thought would win the NFC West.


Trent Baalke replaced McCloughan. And, the club is near complete implosion on his watch.

In fairness to Baalke, Singletary’s prints are all over the personnel decisions that have been made – starting with the blind devotion to Alex Smith as the starting quarterback. Smith hasn’t played a great deal better than whatever was his best earlier in his career. The 49ers don't have a decent alternative to him.

The knee-jerk reaction to blame him for the 0-3 record and call for a quarterback change is expected. But, maybe the 49ers should give David Carr a chance. If he doesn't get a shot, then the organization overpaid him to be a reserve.

The 49ers are among the most poorly run organizations in the NFL. That starts with ownership that would hand the club to a 28-year-old business novice.

Singletary is an exemplary citizen. He's a bit of a bully around the media, which is something that offers insight into his personality. Reporters just ask him what's gone wrong and Singletary responds with the suggestion that they have no business asking him anything. Yet...reporters are asking questions that fans who pay Singletary's salary want answered.

No NFL analyst thinks the 49ers lack talent – save at quarterback where Singletary made Smith No. 1 and then didn’t bring in anyone to challenge him for the job.

So, if the talent’s there … how to explain the loathsome start?

Well, Raye didn’t become an inept offensive coordinator in the last two weeks. He was the best coordinator who would work for Singletary. Singletary was the guy the York family believed would be a  fine head coach, despite his having done nothing to indicate that to be true.

The 49ers could turn things around, sure. It’s just hard to see how the leadership in place today can make that happen.