Mike Singletary: 10 Most Bizarre Moments of His Head Coaching Tenure
Mike Singletary was finally relieved of his duties as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers today after much speculation.
In roughly two-and-a-half seasons, the Hall of Fame linebacker just couldn't bring the 49ers out of the doldrums and end their prolonged playoff drought.
But his failure to produce victories (an 18-22 overall record, 5-10 this season) was only part of his legacy as the man in charge by the Bay.
He produced several strange moments during his three years. As a parting gift, we recap the top 10.
No. 10: Chewing Out Alex Smith
If you saw that Eagles-49ers Sunday night game back in Week 5 you know exactly what happened.
Despite a close game against the Michael Vick-less Eagles, the hometown San Francisco crowd booed starting quarterback Alex Smith repeatedly for his long stretch of poor play.
And with a national television audience watching, Singletary laid into his former first overall draft choice on the sideline. That's not totally bizarre: Coaches and players often clash, even with the cameras rolling.
But Smith stayed in the game the whole time, as the boos only got louder.
Most bizarre? The 49ers nearly came back and tied it in the final minutes, until a Smith interception ended the game and the team fell to 0-5.
No. 9: Sideline Showdown With the Other Smith QB
Troy Smith replaced Alex Smith several times this year: a quarterback carousel that was also a bizarre piece of Singletary's tenure in San Francisco.
Smith got the start in the 49ers' last-ditch effort for a shot at the NFC West yesterday against the St. Louis Rams, a game they ultimately lost 25-17. He threw an interception, fumbled the ball three times, was sacked for a safety and completed just seven passes.
Singletary was fired later that evening.
The frustration of both men was apparent in the above video.
No. 8: Firing Jimmy Raye After Defending Jimmy Raye
Despite the 49ers' repeated offensive woes (28th in scoring this year) Singletary repeatedly stood up for his offensive coordinator, Jimmy Raye.
Prior to this season, he spoke about how Alex Smith desperately needed continuity: The young quarterback had never had the same offensive coordinator for two straight seasons (see video).
And when the team got off to its poor 0-3 start, Singletary told the press that Raye would be the team's offensive coordinator for the rest of the season.
The next day, Raye was fired.
No. 7: Making Michael Crabtree (Nearly?) Cry
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Even before first-round draft pick Michael Crabtree landed in Singletary's doghouse for holding out prior to and during the 2009 season, he was drawing the ire of the team's head coach.
During a rookie mini-camp, just weeks after the draft, Crabtree was still nursing a foot injury and not cleared to play yet.
So when Singletary saw Crabtree jogging on the practice field, he chewed him out, so much so that, according to many published accounts, Singletary brought the former Texas Tech star near tears.
No. 6: Michael Lewis Leaves the 49ers for Mysterious Reasons
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49ers safety Michael Lewis had been an All-Pro with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004. With the 49ers, he had a fantastic season in 2007.
But by 2010, he was unhappy with the team and the front office unhappy with him.
Singletary told the press in early October that he would not be traveling with the team to their next road game in Atlanta.
"I told him to go ahead and do what he has to do," said Singletary. "As far as if he will make the trip or not, I'm not sure at this point. It depends on if things can be worked out or not. It's personal reasons, and that's on Mike. I don't talk about that. You have to talk to Mike about that."
The only problem with Singletary's explanation? According to one report that cited a Lewis family member, there were no such "personal reasons."
Three days later, Lewis was released.
No. 5: Snubbing Atlanta Falcons Coach Mike Smith
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The 49ers were already off to a terrible 0-3 start when they traveled east to play the 2-1 Atlanta Falcons.
After taking a 14-0 first quarter lead, they were held scoreless throughout the rest of the game.
But they still had a chance to win, especially when Nate Clements seemingly sealed a 14-13 win with an interception of the Falcons' Matt Ryan. Then Roddy White stripped Clements of the ball, giving new life to Atlanta, who went on to kick the go-ahead field goal with two seconds remaining.
Singletary was so despondent after the 16-14 loss, he refused to shake hands with Falcons head coach Mike Smith.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Singletary's explanation: "I chose to (skip the handshake) for a number of reasons".....none of which Singletary elaborated on.
No. 4: Glen Coffee Retiring
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Glen Coffee had a nice rookie year for the 49ers during Singletary's one and only full season as head coach in San Francisco.
In consecutive games against Minnesota and St. Louis, he carried the ball 49 times for 128 yards, and a week later, he scored his first career touchdown against the Falcons.
But the 23-year-old suddenly retired in August of this year, just weeks before the start of the NFL season.
Maybe Coffee would have retired under any head coach; he spoke of a higher power influencing his decision.
Still, it was a bizarre moment for the 49ers and their increasingly embattled head coach.
No. 3: Lashing Out Against Dad Gum Yahoo
When the media started to question why Jimmy Raye still had his job early in the season, Yahoo! Sports reported on a growing lack of communication amongst the 49ers' offensive staff and players.
Wasted timeouts and poor clock management in the team's season-opening loss to Seattle were the impetus for the rumors.
On his weekly television show with a local sports anchor, Singletary gave us his thoughts on what he called the "dad gum Yahoo" report, leaving everyone involved or watching feeling pretty uncomfortable.
No. 2: I WANT WINNERS!!!
Although it's not his most bizarre moment, it is certainly his most famous/infamous during three seasons as the team's head coach.
In his first game as head coach, the 49ers lost 34-13 at home against the 2-4 Seattle Seahawks. And because arguably his best player, tight end Vernon Davis, disappointed him during the loss, Singletary let everyone know why and how.
It wasn't quite a "meltdown" (like the famous Dennis Green or Jim Mora meltdowns of recent times), but it was a bizarre moment for a man who had just taken his first gig as a head coach.
No. 1: Dropping His Pants to Make a Point?
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
From the very start, Singeltary showed his penchant for the bizarre.
A few hours before he would issue his public lambasting of Vernon Davis, Singletary displayed an unusal way of motivating his team: dropping his pants. ESPN.com gives us the rest....thankfully there is no video:
"I used my pants to illustrate that we were getting our tails whipped on Sunday and how humiliating that should feel for all of us. I needed to do something to dramatize my point; there were other ways I could have done it but I think this got the message across.
"I am excited about having the team back at practice on Monday so we can get back to work."