You've gotta do
I know you weren't expecting this. Not even two months ago, you were right where you wanted to be. Three-and-one and atop your division. You'd promised the playoffs, and some said you'd already clinched 'em. And your coach, your first hire, already was Coach of the Year.
Sure, some of us were nervous. Too often we'd seen strong starts go up in smoke. In 2008 we went two-and-one, and then we lost six in a row. In 2007, two-and-oh and then eight
in a row. Nervous as we were, though, something just felt different
now. Yeah, we had more talent. But mainly it was that coach. His will, his drive, his knack for wringing every drop of effort out of every last player. There'd be no collapse, not this time. He simply wouldn't allow it.
Yet here we are again. After three-and-one, we lost four in a row, and now we've lost five out of six. Our playoff hopes are virtually dead, which means your promise is all but broken.
In two short months, your season's been ruined. And your coach, Mike Singletary, is the guy who's ruined it.
Scot McCloughan hasn't exactly set the world on fire, but we've got enough talent to win. We went into Minny and lost by three; the Vikings are nine-and-one. We went into Indy and lost by four; the Colts are 10-and-oh. In recent years, the talent gap between us and the league's elite was so mammoth that we'd simply be flattened. Now we've stood toe to toe, to the very end. So say what you want about our deficits at quarterback, offensive line, and outside linebacker, to name a few. We've got the talent to compete with anyone
, and that means we've got enough talent to win.
That's why this
collapse is the worst of them all. Mike Nolan was certainly not a good coach, but no one could win with a roster like his. Sure, the losses hurt. But only a few years out from the Donahue purge, we knew we were simply outgunned. The coaching didn't help, of course, but you need talent first. We didn't have nearly enough.
This year, not so. We've got
talent. And Singletary, his magic already gone, has stubbornly, stupidly thrown it away.
Let me take you back a few weeks, to the game in Houston. We were three-and-two, still in first place, and coming off our bye. Despite that extra time to prepare, our offense was woefully flat. In the first half, Singletary's precious run-first scheme made three first-downs and 50 yards. Down 21-zip at halftime, Singletary showed he could make an adjustment. Operating out of the spread, Alex Smith threw for 206 yards and three scores, before we fell just one score short.
Fast forward to Sunday's Packer game. We were four-and-five, lucky we weren't three-and-six, and coming off our "mini-bye." Despite that extra time to prepare, our offense was woefully flat. In the first half, Singletary's precious run-first scheme made one first-down and 57 yards. Down 23-3 at halftime, Singletary showed he could make an adjustment. Operating out of the spread, Alex Smith threw for 222 yards and three scores, before we fell just one score short.
Surely, Jed, you see the insanity.
After that Houston game, every rational observer asked the same question: what would happen if we made the spread our primary offense? A month later, with the season lost, we still don't know. As Singletary put it, "How good we are, I don't know because we haven't given ourselves a chance to find out." He was trying to put the blame on his players, as coaches do when they're feeling the heat. But really—and rightly—his words put the blame on himself
. It's true. We don't
know how good we are, because our coach is simply unwilling to give his players the chance to prove it. A coach's job is to give his players the best chance to succeed, and Singletary's simply not doing his job.
And now, predictably, the players are starting to grouse. Wisely, Smith won't bite the hand that's given him his second chance. But his primary weapons? No such hesitation. Vernon Davis, a captain: "We've just got to come out from the beginning and take advantage of things we can take advantage of, and if that means spread the ball, maybe we need to do that. But that's not up to me; that's up to our offensive coordinator [Jimmy Raye, Singletary's puppet]." And Michael Crabtree, a rookie
: "That would be good. [But] that's out of my range. All I can do is [run] the plays. ... I really can do something in that spread. When I was in college, that was all we ran." The same, of course, can be said of Smith.
But naturally, Singletary simply will not give in, and his excuses only get worse and worse. He dismisses all the success of the spread, saying the defense is merely relaxing; of course, if the defense is "relaxing," it's only because, thanks to our incompetent run-first scheme, the defense is sitting on a comfortable lead. He even suggests "if you were in the basic two-back set, I think you'd probably get the same results," a suggestion that's preposterous on its face. And finally, there's this doozy: "I think one of the worst things that we could do right now is to put Alex Smith in shotgun and say, 'OK. Let's go get it guys. Here's what it is.' ... I think the smartest thing for us to do continuing to go forward is not to take all of training camp, not to take all of what we have gone into this season and just throw it out and say we're going to go to shotgun."
And there you have it, Jed. We're gonna stick with what we've practiced, even though it clearly sucks. And no matter how great we are at the spread—just think how great we'd be with some practice!—well, we certainly won't be saying "Let's go get it guys." Nope. Going and getting it? That'd be one of the worst things we could do.
Jed, you've gotta put an end to this. It's not your fault you were captivated by Singletary's spell; we all
were. But the spell's been broken, along with your promise. He's lost the season, he's losing his team, and he seems as well to be losing his mind. And the clock is ticking, pounding
even. Gruden's taken himself off the market. The Bills and Redskins are sniffing around Shanahan. And Holmgren is shopping in Seattle and Cleveland. You can't wait. You've gotta move.
I know you weren't expecting this. It wasn't supposed to happen this way. But if you want us to believe in you, to believe you're really different, to believe indeed you "won't rest until we reestablish a championship culture," you simply can't just stand there.
You've gotta do
By: Carl Scott
Date: January 29, 2010 at 11:47 PM
Comment: Man thank god i have somebody who thinks like me. U people screaming for change are starting to sound like President Obama. U change coaches right now and the team will not recover. Run the spread offense first and catch the other team by surprise when they have 6 or 7 men in the box with an explosive run for 40 or 50 yards by Frank G.
Date: November 29, 2009 at 6:40 PM
Comment: Boy, do you guys all look stupid this afternoon. Sit back on the couch and have another Corona and keep your mouths shut. If you knew what you were talking about you wouldn't be sucking nachos on Sunday you would be on the sidelines. Your opinions are cheaper than a shark skin suit. "Oh...Jed, you gotta put an end to this." Weeping bunch of crybabies.
By: Randall berry
Date: November 26, 2009 at 12:37 PM
Comment: Changing coaches again is the worst strategy imaginable! Change your offensive strategy instead because the present one in Sing's mind was based upon a big, healthy O line and a solid QB. Go to spread offense fine but quit calling for change. Constant changes have killed this team over the last few years. Coaches can change and I think we are already seeing this with the spread used last week. QUIT calling for coaching changes. Hurts more than helps.
Date: November 25, 2009 at 2:19 PM
Comment: Well done on this article, I could not have put it any better myself. I am upset at the continued losing; but what makes me more angry is the fact that time is ticking and the season is all but gone and our coach refuses to give in and give this team the best chance to win at all costs. I expected him to be a lot hungrier man! If he was doing this and the team continued to lose then we can say the better team won, maybe next year let's get 'em. However, I cannot take this type of losing knowing that everything is not being done. I have lost much respect for Coach Sing over this and quite frankly I want a new coach going forward. I mean this is so stubbornly blatant man. The fans, the players they want to win, NOW not next year.
Date: November 25, 2009 at 12:39 PM
Comment: Very perceptive, Jeff. I really like your thoughts about Jed kind of being backed into a corner by Sing's performance last year. I'm one who probably would have been upset had they not hired Sing--he seemed to get the team to play with cohesiveness and he virtually eliminated the penalties. But the fact is, if Jed had a philosophy of how to win, and Sing didn't reflect that philosophy, then he made a mistake by hiring him. We're seeing that now as Sing's approach doesn't match the talent that we have and he hasn't been adaptable enough to make the necessary adjustments.
Date: November 25, 2009 at 10:13 AM
Comment: Jeff, one would hope that young Jed would make a bold move, but if past behavior is any indication we are in for more of the same. For those who would wait, just a reminder how short a shelf life NFL players have, 3-4 years on average give or take. In this league you move fast or you watch the other team win the championships.
Date: November 25, 2009 at 9:19 AM
Comment: I'm with you! I want a coach who is not stubborn and is willing to do what is best for the team. I want a coach who embraces the modern passing game! Singletary does not fit these descriptions. I would love to have Shanahan, Holmgren, or a young innovative offensive minded coach!
Date: November 25, 2009 at 8:28 AM
Comment: "The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result." -Albert Einstein
By: alex gonzales
Date: November 24, 2009 at 8:10 PM
Comment: Jed, like your uncle got rid of Joe Thomas after he stunk it up in '77, now must you rid yourself of our current GM. No, we don't have the players after five years of drafts and free agent mistakes to make a run. Listen to Rob Brooks on KNBR daily who travels with the team and he concurs. We have no team speed on the edges of our defense. And speaking of defense, they cost us vs Vikings and didn't give us a chance in the end vs GB. They are not the defense we all thought they would be. Simply put, they are not talented enough and that's on those who buy the groceries as Bill Parcells would say. We can all complain about how our coordinators prepare and scheme during the week and how well or poorly they make adjustments during the game, which i agree with all of you is frustrating as hell, but we just don't have the players to get over this hump. And that is just poor personnel management and selection: no pass rush, no pass blocking, CAN'T RUN the ball, no speed on the D edges, can't get off the field on 3rd down, 3 and out! etc etc... Everyone, help Jed fire Scot!!!! he has had way too long to fix this and he's done some good(Willis, Gore and now Davis and Crab...finally) but come on man...Done
Date: November 24, 2009 at 7:37 PM
Comment: I don't like the idea of changing coaches every year. Especially HC. I'd like Singletary and Raye to stay and get this thing going the way they want it to. That would be grand. Having said that, there's no way I would pass up on Holmgren or Shanahan in favor of our coaches. No way no how. Holmgren and Shanahan are proven coaches. So: Let's keep Singletary and Raye another season unless the opportunity is there to acquire a proven coach. I share everyone's frustrations. It's obvious that our offense is just pounding its head against the proverbial brick wall. It seems our coaching staff is too hard headed to change. But if they can put together a winning team in their formula, that would be great too.
Date: November 24, 2009 at 5:15 PM
Comment: I agree and empathize with your frustration. It seems that going to the spread would make more sense, but when it comes down to it, we still don't have the talent to beat the elite teams when the game is on the line, starting with the QB. Davis and Crabtree (so far) seem to be legit playmakers, and Gore is Gore, but we have one of the worst O-lines in the league and a mediocre QB. Our defense is also overrated. Our D-line is decent and our linebacking corps is solid, but our secondary and pass rush are bad--real bad. Stats can be misleading. Sure, we have one of the top run defenses, but our pass D is one of the worst in the league. Cutler, even when throwing 5 picks, still racked up over 300 yards on us--how does that happen? The bottom line is that you have to give Sing some time. Everyone wants success right now, but some things take time. When you look at this team compared to what it has been in years, we are leaps and bounds ahead of what we were last year and that's mainly with the same personnel, so he has done a solid job. The key will be if he makes good draft decisions and if we have even more improvement next year--then we can see if Sing is the real deal or not...
Date: November 24, 2009 at 12:14 PM
Comment: Well, everyone has wanted Jed to be like Eddie D. After the 2-14 season of 1978, Eddie D hired Walsh, who then went 2-14 in 1979. Eddie stayed the course. In 1980, Walsh went 6-10. Eddie stuck with him and we know the rest. Not saying Singletary will be this generation's Walsh. The point is if Eddie had been as reactionary as is being expressed here, we never would have had the 49er dynasty of the 80's and 90's. You can't just go firing coaches every year and expect to get instantly better. If Walsh couldn't turn it around in a year, how could you expect anyone, including Singletary, to do it? Jed hired Singletary because he believed in him. The disappointment of this season when the QB situation was always shaky at best should not cause Jed to reverse his course. He should do like Eddie did and at least stick with Singletary for a 2nd year. At that point, he can make a better assessment.
Date: November 24, 2009 at 11:47 AM
Comment: Jeff here we go again! You always go in on Singletary, about how weak the playcalling is, mentioning that VD and Crabtree want the spread. Then you go and make a ridiculous statement that Alex doesn't want to bite the hand that feeds him. They asked Alex Smith would he flourish out of the spread, and he said he thought it would be impossible at this stage of the season! Sing also said that Alex doesn't put much input into the playcalling. Don't we need our QB to say what works best for him?! Alex is not a leader. Instead of that ridiculous QB competition, with Alex and Shaun Hill, they should have let Nate Davis get some of the 1st string reps. Sing needs a QB, you can't say all of this is his fault, especially the way Alex Smith plays.
By: Nick S.
Date: November 24, 2009 at 10:28 AM
Comment: Somebody tell Ruben below that Smith's INT's wouldn't be so backbreaking if we weren't playing from behind every game. A 3TD to 1INT ratio is a GOOD thing, but one man can only do so much when you are down by 21+ points.
Date: November 24, 2009 at 8:54 AM
Comment: I have been screaming for months for the 49ers to ditch their "21" personnel package, yet they continue to open the game with it. Between Singletary and Raye, there is NO creativity in this offense. The great coaches use the talent they have and tailor the offense to fit that talent. Think of how the Patriots used Vrabel, or how the Bears used the "Refrigerator." With the match-up problems that Vernon and Delanie present, why don't we go to more 2 tight end? Singletary claims he wants balance, and that formation would give us the ability to run and pass. Imagine the problems it would give the defense. If the other team comes out in their base defense, you can split Davis and Walker outside, and BOOM you've just caught the defense off guard. If they come out in nickel, you have the personnel on the field to ram it down their throats. From that formation, you could go 2, 3, 4 or even 5 wide if you split Gore out. You could use Vernon as an H-back on some plays. Imagine the possibilities!!! I'm not an offensive coordinator, but it just doesn't make sense that we're not using this formation...yes it does....Raye SUCKS!!!
Date: November 24, 2009 at 8:41 AM
Comment: Jeff, you took ALL of the words right out of my mouth. Mike Singletary is a GREAT motivational speaker, was a GREAT linebacker, and i'm sure is a GREAT person. But GREAT head coach, he is not. Anyone and everyone is saying the same thing about the offense. WHY WHY WHY...there's no more need to give examples, go into detail, give stats...etc. I honestly think it's a PRIDE thing with Mike. He just doesn't want to be proven wrong. There is no chance of us winning 6 straight games, and AZ losing 3 out of 6. In the off-season, Singletary needs to part ways with Jimmy Raye, or they can leave together hand in hand.
By: Ruben H
Date: November 24, 2009 at 8:36 AM
Comment: Oh ye of little faith! I totally disagree with everything said here. I like Alex Smith and believe he is a good QB but have you noticed when they have lost games it has been when we totally go to the spread offense, Alex has thrown an interception which has stalled us from winning the game. No the run game has not panned out the way he planned but we are not built to constantly throw the ball around. Now that things are not going right, you want to call for Mike Singletary's head, when at first you were praising him for the 3-1 start. If there is anyone to blame, blame Scot McCloughan for the past two drafts. This draft alone was somewhat horrible. He never drafted to what Singletary needed to make this team be what he needed to be. No O-line help nor a rush linebacker! On top of that, you trade away a second and fourth round pick for a one next year! Are you trying to win now or next year? If there is any blame, blame McCloughan!!
By: Jesse S
Date: November 24, 2009 at 7:37 AM
Comment: I agree with you. We have more talent on the outside than we have had in years. We have had more three and outs than we should have in a whole season (with this group). And sure we have had some injuries but that shouldn't be our excuse. All we are doing in the first half is showing that we have a horrible scheme with a great back and that a team can't do well if you never throw the ball past the line of scrimage (-7 yds 1st half). What about bringing in Charlie Weis as an O-Co when he gets 86ed. I will watch the niners when we are 4-12 but I hate watching us lose when we really do have the talent to win 10 games or more.
Date: November 24, 2009 at 6:24 AM
Comment: Jeff, I'm starting to agree with you. I love Singletary, but his "hard-headedness" is beginning to really cost the Niners. Do you think York would make a move after one season? It may be necessary, I just don't think he will do it yet.