“We cannot make decisions that cost the team…and then come off the field all nonchalant.”
Some of you may remember that quote from San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary, referring to Vernon Davis, after a poor Week 8 performance in 2008.
Singletary came in for the fired Mike Nolan to be the interim head coach for a struggling 49er team after Week 7 in the 2008 season.
Singletary brought his hard-nosed, 11 players to the ball, 60 minutes of football attitude with him when he took over and he gained a lot of respect from the players, coaches and management.
He gained so much respect that the 49ers named Singletary the head coach going forward for the 2009 season.
Coach Singletary took over in 2008 and finished with a 5-4 record, and a locker room full of positive attitudes looking forward to 2009. In 2009, the 49ers looked improved as a football team. They had a top-five run defense and they were putting points on the board.
A few unlucky losses kept them from being a playoff team, and it seemed like 2010 would be the year that San Francisco would get back in the playoffs, which is something that hasn’t been done since 2002 after they lost to the Buccaneers in the Divisional playoffs.
In 2010, the 49ers started off 0-5 and talks of replacing Singletary were brewing from the fans, and it was curious what the team thought of making a change as well. San Francisco won their first game in Week 6 against the Raiders and followed it with a loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 7.
Carolina, who now holds the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, is not a team that a squad of this caliber should lose to.
Alex Smith suffered a shoulder injury and thus began the Troy Smith era. Troy Smith came in and beat Denver and division rival St. Louis. The 49ers looked to be on the rise and playing well, yet they hosted Tampa Bay in Week 11, only to be shutout.
After beating Arizona for the team's fourth win, Singletary had to decide whether to stick with the hot hand in Troy Smith against Green Bay or go with the incumbent Alex Smith.
Green Bay pummeled the 49ers as Troy Smith completed just 40 percent of his passes. Singletary brought Alex Smith back for Week 14 and the 49ers rolled over the Seahawks to once again be mentioned for a playoff appearance, thanks to a poor NFC West Division.
An embarrassing Thursday night loss to San Diego drew doubts of the playoffs for the 49ers, but Singletary was confident. He still could win out and make the playoffs, even at 7-9 and the last two games of the season were against teams in which they had already played and beat in St. Louis and Seattle.
As Week 16 approached, Singletary made the decision to start Troy Smith again, thanks to what he did completing 12.7 yards per attempt in the first matchup against the weak secondary.
Troy Smith completed just 36.8 percent of his passes and was pulled out of the game by Singletary at the beginning of the third quarter, and the two got into a very heated argument on the sidelines because of it. (Click here.)
Alex Smith entered the game and played well, but not well enough to win the game and the 49ers were ultimately eliminated from playoff contention.
In postgame press conferences and talks, 49ers team president Jed York spoke with the media and refused to commit to sticking behind Singletary.
As soon as the team landed from the plane, it was announced that Singletary was relieved of his duty and he would be free to pursue another opportunity elsewhere.
York was quoted saying: “We should be a playoff team. We aren't a playoff team this year. Very disappointed about that. We need to figure out how we can get into the playoffs and how we can start competing for Super Bowls.”
And he’s completely right. Players like Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Patrick Willis and Justin Smith, among many others, deserve more.
San Francisco management was reported to be rubbed the wrong way by some of Singletary’s coaching methods. One would have to wonder if management felt that he was too harsh as a head coach and if his decision making was often reflective of his emotions.
Judging by his press conference as an interim head coach in 2008, it’s very possible that he tends to be too emotional and holds grudges against players who play poorly, instead of working with them to improve.
Among replacements for the San Francisco 49ers head coaching position are reported to be Jim Harbaugh, who currently coaches the Stanford Cardinal; Jon Gruden, who is in the broadcast booth; and Mike Holmgren, who currently runs the Browns management operations and is probably the least likely candidate.
Brian Billick is a name that’s out there who could return to coaching. He has the offensive mind to utilize those offensive weapons properly.
Don’t sleep on Jeff Fisher as well. He was the defensive backs coach in the early '90s for San Francisco and he is currently on the hot seat with Tennessee.
The last sleeper option for the position is New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. Fewell has made the Giants defense one of the toughest and fastest in the NFL. He’s due to get a head coaching job at some point.
Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will coach the team for its Week 17 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. He could be a candidate if the team feels strongly enough.
This team is too talented to be a 5-10 team at this point in the season, and the 49ers want to see progression rather than regression like they have seen in 2010.
Look for the 49ers to pursue a new quarterback in the 2011 NFL Draft to replace the struggling Smith duo.
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