49ers vs. Chargers: What It Means for Mike Singletary's Future

John LorgeSenior Writer IDecember 15, 2010

Mike Singletary needs to lead the 49ers to a win over the Chargers Thursday night.
Mike Singletary needs to lead the 49ers to a win over the Chargers Thursday night.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

49ers vs. Chargers feels like the tipping point for San Francisco head coach Mike Singletary's career in the Bay Area. 

After losing five straight to start the season, Singletary has gone 5-3.  With preseason expectations of double-digit wins and an NFC West crown, finishing the season sub .500 would be a major disappointment.

Mike Singletary's seat isn't so hot that he should pre-pack his office. After all, he lasted after a 34-16 drubbing by Green Bay who had already executed two coaches this season.

As long as SF keeps it competitive through the game Singletary should make it back from his trip to San Diego and see the end of the season.

Since taking over seven games into 2008, Singletary is 18-19.  He's finished second in the NFC West both seasons.

He took over for a Mike Nolan coached team that got off to a terrible start and impressed Niner fans with a 5-3 record in the second half of the season.

Unfortunately San Francisco has continued with its trend of slow starts over the past two years.  The Mike Singletary-era that started with high expectations hasn't given fans much hope since.

The reason this game is so important to Singletary's future is because in spite of the terrible start they are still in the hunt for the NFC West crown.

If San Francisco wins out and finishes 8-8 all they need is for Seattle to lose one of their next three games against Atlanta, Tampa and St. Louis—a very likely scenario.  In that situation SF would own the season tiebreaker over STL and division tiebreaker over the 'Hawks.

A playoff appearance—which would include a home playoff game—buys Singletary at least another season as the Niners coach.

A division title would be a slap in the face of adversity for Singletary.  San Francisco has had serious injuries to Alex Smith, Frank Gore and the offensive line since their poor start.

If the Niners don't finish with at least seven wins it doesn't look good for Singletary but he should be thinking eight or bust.  Playing it safe doesn't work in the NFL.

Follow me on Twitter @JohnLorge