San Francisco 49ers: 10 Potential Replacements For Mike Singletary

Joseph BurkeyAnalyst IDecember 1, 2010

San Francisco 49ers: 10 Potential Replacements For Mike Singletary

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    Mike Singletary is not a dumb man. Call him a poor head coach, call him a stubborn play caller, call him an fossil who still believes in caveman football, but he can't be stupid enough to think his job is safe with a 4-7 record.

    The 49ers came into the season with what seemed like an 80 percent chance of winning the division. This chance is now closer to 20 percent at best.

    At one point, when the 49ers were 0-5, Jed York texted to ESPN "we're going to win the division."

    Naturally, this made most of the country laugh. It made many 49ers fans embarrassed. And it made Mike Singletary feel the pressure, for if Mike could make good on Jed's promise, then they would all become geniuses with near psychic foresight, and escape the cloud of laughing and pointing that poured misery on them.

    The season continued with mixed results, and just when a savior seemed found in Troy Smith (who led the team to back-to-back wins over Denver and St. Louis), they suffered their first shutout at home since the pre-Walsh era.

    Of course, the 49ers then came back to deliver a blowout to the Cardinals in Glendale, the first one-sided victory the 49ers have had all year.

    Mike Singletary's odds of staying on as head coach are as slim as the 49ers odds of making the postseason.

    It's likely that if (when) the team is mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, Mike Singletary will be eliminated from the 49ers' coaching staff.

    Living on a prayer of blind faith, they should hope this doesn't happen. Hope that the 49ers win the division. Hope for a playoff win (or two!) while were at it. Hope Coach Singletary gets another year to prove his moxie.

    Hope for an optimistic best, but prepare for a realistic worst.

Jon Gruden

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    The Jon Gruden?

    Yes, the most popular name in available coaching is certainly Jon Gruden.

    "Chucky" is known for his intensity, demanding playbook, unbelievable (some say borderline psychotic) work ethic, and oh yeah, success; he didn't win Super Bowl XXXVIII by accident.

    Sure, there was the great Tony Dungy Tampa-2 defense already in play. Sure he ended up facing the team he had commanded the year before. Look at it any way you want, but that Super Bowl ring speaks for itself.

    In 2001, Gruden was named one of People magazine's 50 most beautiful people. The ridiculous honor still haunts him.

Jim Harbaugh

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    Give him a shot if he wants one? But why would he leave a good thing?

    Jim Harbaugh is making a heck of a name for himself at Stanford. The Cardinal's program hasn't been the same since Harbaugh showed up. It went from losers to winners, and now it's in a BCS title hunt.

    No one's going to say Harbaugh doesn't deserve a crack at the NFL, but does he really want one yet? Much like the fans screaming about drafting Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck next year, pursuing Harbaugh now would probably be jumping the gun.

    They are young in their respective careers as coach and quarterback. They are growing at an accelerated pace, and while they are at it, they are restoring a winning tradition to Stanford's football program. At this rate, it won't be long before one of the most prestigious colleges in America is also vying for a BCS berth.

    In a couple years, however, look for Harbaugh, and the young men learning the game under his guidance, to make big splashes in the NFL.

Jim Mora Jr

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    Do you want intensity? Jim Mora Jr will give you intensity.

    We all know Mora's father is a quotable coaching legend. Most will remember him for his timeless "Playoffs? Don't talk about playoffs!" post-game rant. Beautiful as it was, here's one quote from dad that's just a little more wisdom-packed:

    "You think you know, but you don't know. And you never will."

    Sure, nobody's trying to hire Jim Sr. here, but there's a generation of coaches' sons coming into their own right now. Check out Jim Mora Jr.'s press conference gem: like father, like son, some would say.

    Mora Jr. is a throwback to the last time the 49ers felt success; he was a defensive backs coach, and was eventually promoted to defensive coordinator before eventually being lured away by Atlanta.

    As a defensive backs coach (he also played DB at Washington University) Mora could, and should be able to bring a more cerebral game plan to the underachieving 49ers defense.

Kyle Shanahan

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    Speaking of this up-and-coming generation of coaches' sons, Kyle Shanahan is talking the talk, and walking the walk.

    There's really not much I can say about Mike Shanahan's son that his Wikipedia Page doesn't already make clear as daylight.

Mike Pettine

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    So, on the topic of the sons of coaches, Rex Ryan should be mentioned. Nobody is dumb enough to think the Jets are going to let go of Ryan considering the job he's done turning the Jets into an NFL powerhouse.

    Mike Pettine Jr., on the other hand, could consider moving up in rank on another team; he is the current Jets' defensive coordinator.

    Pettine may have a little coaching pedigree in his lineage as well; his father Mike Pettine Sr. had a  326-42-4 record in 33 seasons and won the AAAA state championship four times at Central Bucks High School West.

    That last tidbit of info is also courtesy of Wikipedia. Don't forget to donate!

Charlie Weis

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    You need an offense? Talk to Charlie Weis.

    I'm not sure there's a more impressive resume than that of Weis. He's been a running backs coach. He's been a tight end's coach. He's been a receiver's coach. He's been an offensive coordinator. He's even been a head coach at the college level.

    These days, Weis has been revamping and rebuilding the Kansas City Chiefs' offense into a smooth running machine.

    The 49ers would be lucky to have him aboard.

Dennis Green

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    I know, I know: "They are who we thought they were."

    Dennis Green's connection to the 49ers runs deeper than most know, however. Green coached with Bill Walsh and more than one occasion at Stanford, as well as at the professional level. Green coached running backs for Walsh at Stanford, special teams (one year) for Walsh in San Francisco, wide receivers from 1986 to 1988 in SF. As WR coach under Walsh, Green mentored a young receiver by the name of Jerry Rice. You might have heard of him.

    Green is one of a small handful of coaches who has carved out 15 wins in a season—in 1998, the same year his Minnesota Vikings also set the record for points in a season. That record has only been bested once—by the 2007 Patriots.

    There is a whole vault of head coaching experience that comes with Dennis Green. Currently, he is coaching the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the UFL, so he could, and should be on the radar of potential 49ers head coaches.

Ray Rhodes

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    Remember Ray Rhodes?

    For ten great years, Rhodes coached the 49ers' defensive backs alongside, and under George Seifert, and Bill Walsh.

    Rhodes also coordinated the defense of the 1994 World Champion 49ers.

    Although Rhodes never achieved great success in the NFL as a head coach, that's a fact one would imagine he'd like to change.

    Rhodes is currently employed as a defensive assistant for the Houston Texans.

Marty Mornhinweg

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    Does anybody ever wonder what Marty is up to these days?

    Mornhinweg's only been coaching one of the league's better offenses in Philly for the last couple years. It also just happens that he's been grooming two quarterbacks that are now both capable of producing on just about any NFL team.

    Now why on earth would San Francisco want a guy like that?

Tom Rathman

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    It's important to keep Tom Rathman in the 49ers fold. No matter what.

    Rathman is a throwback to the 49ers' glory years. While playing for San Francisco, Rathman solidified a gritty, yet versatile backfield on a legendary offense.

    Old no. 44 was known for an extremely team-oriented mentality with everything he did. He'd catch screens and swings when called upon. He'd run tough, and he always finished the play when he got carries. Blocking, however, was his bread and butter.

    "I don't thrive on getting the ball, I don't thrive on catching passes, scoring touchdowns. I like to do the dirty work: make all the blocks, pick up the blitzes, run down the field to get blocks. Things like that. Those are some things that are overlooked by a lot of people, but they're basically good for the team"

    John Madden once said Rathman was "everything that's basic about football. Blocking, tough running, not just the way he looks but the way he plays."

    Now, many members of the 49er faithful will be saying " the last thing we need is more toughness, and more basic, especially on offense."

    On the other hand, Rathman was a smash-mouth offensive skill player, and he likely possesses more imagination than a simple 'Gore up the middle' game plan.

    Rathman hasn't been heavily noted as a coaching candidate for SF, and it's unknown if Ol' No. 44 has such ambitions. Regardless, It's important that the 49ers keep him in the fold for the future.

Honorable Mention

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    The creation of this list came through looking forward and backward simultaneously. There are plenty more potential candidates out there who should qualify for coaching jobs at any level.

    The following received consideration, but did not make the cut to ten:

    Wade Phillips (former Dallas Cowboys Head Coach)

    Brad Childress (former Minnesota Vikings Head Coach

    Mike Martz (Chicago Bears Offensive Coordinator)

    Dom Capers (Green Bay Packers Defensive Coordinator)

    Dick LeBeau (Pittsburgh Steelers Defensive Coordinator)

    Pete Carmichael Jr (New Orleans Saints Offensive Coordinator)

    Bill Callahan (Former Oakland Raiders and University of Nebraska Head Coach, Current New York Jets O0lins and Assistant Head Coach)

    Gregg Williams (New Orleans Saints defensive Coordinator)

    George Siefert (Don't act like you've never heard of him)

    Steve Marriucci (Same goes for Mooch, you know who he is)

Maybe Not?

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    If Mike Singletary can rally this camp—if he can circle the wagons for an epic, and unprecedented playoff run—then the incumbent coach has earned himself another shot. Not only will he have defied the odds in the face of a 99% skeptical 49ers faithful, but Samurai Mike will have made team owner Jed York look like a genius with tremendous foresight, rather than an idiot child.

    If Mike Singletary has any fight left in him, if his 49ers have any fight left in them, we will see it in the final throes of their 2010 season.

    From a conservative mindset, there are just as many (if not more) benefits to standing pat on (even mild) success, as there are to radical change in the wake of failure.

    At only one game out of first place in the NFC West, Singletary still has a surprisingly good shot at preserving his job. Singletary needs to make good on York's (foolish?) promise, however, or a revolution may sweep him away with the tide before he even knows he's at the beach.