It didn't stop. Even now, it didn't stop.

His team was one-and-six. Easily the league's most poorly coached. And now, after giving the Panthers their first win, pretty clearly the league's worst.

And still, the insanity just didn't stop.

"There's no doubt in my mind that somehow, some way ... we will regroup," Mike Singletary declared. "We're going to make a season of it. And I still believe we can go to the playoffs."

Playoffs?! Don't talk about--playoffs?! You kiddin' me? PLAYOFFS?!

Oh, what I'd give for some honest talk.

Not that Singletary's fooling anyone, of course. Indeed, to us, it's clear as day. His team is dead, and no one's deader than the coach himself.

Sunday's clincher was more of the same. As against Atlanta, our O scored a touchdown on its opening drive, and never again. As against New Orleans, our D went soft and gave up the crucial drive at the end. As against Philadelphia, we made a new starting quarterback look better than ours. And as against Oakland, we committed 11 penalties in the process.

But hey, at least we won the turnover battle! Way to go, guys!

This one, though, was so much worse, because of the lowly opposition. The Panthers were last in the league in yards, yet they nailed us for 379. They were last in the league in PASSING yards, yet Matt Moore threw for 308. They hadn't scored in the fourth quarter of ANY single game this year, yet in the last two minutes they got us for 10, and the win.

Needless to say, something's seriously wrong with our D. No pass-rush, without the occasional corner blitz, and a secondary that let two rookie receivers catch 14 balls for 216 yards and 2 scores. Add Greg Manusky's disturbing tendency to go mushy late, and, well, you see the result. Ray McDonald's pick-six was nice, but the D gives up way more than it scores.

And naturally, it gives up more than our OFFENSE scores.

It's not rocket science, okay? Our first play was a deep pass; incomplete, but deep. So the D loosened up a bit, and Frank Gore ripped off a 20-yard run. The D moved up, and Alex Smith hit Vernon Davis for a 53-yard bomb, and the score a play later. THAT'S an offense--Mike Johnson's, I suspect--and it works. Touchdown.

Our NEXT drive, though, opened like this: Gore up the middle for two. Gore right tackle for six. Gore up the middle for three. And Gore up the middle for minus-two. You KNOW whose offense THAT is. And our O didn't put up a touchdown again.

As they did last year, the receivers noticed the correlation. "I think we could have pushed it a little more," said Davis, shut out between the first drive and the last. "I don't feel like we should have shut the passing game down," added Michael Crabtree, shut out in the second half. "With all the weapons we've got, we need to use whatever we've got."

Patience, guys. A new coach is on the way.

And almost certainly, a new quarterback, at last.

Outside the first drive, Smith was 7 of 16 for 75 yards. And just when you were starting to grumble, Charles Johnson went by human turnstile Anthony Davis--a first and a fourth, remember--and sent Smith out of the game. In came David Carr, and though those chants were really just anti-Smith, you perked up to see any spark he could add. After all, who could forget Smith's relief work in Houston?

No dice, this time. Carr was wildly inaccurate, and his coaches didn't trust him a bit. We ran the ball on play after play--including on second-and-14 and third-and-18--as we desperately struggled to sit on the lead. Our D took care of THAT, of course--Moore was 7 of 8 on the 63-yard drive to tie--and when at last we needed Carr to actually do his job, he threw the predictable pick, and done.

As further evidence of our coaching genius, Carr was unprepared. So much so that Singletary wouldn't commit to starting him if Smith can't go. Think about that. By definition, a backup's ready to play when the starter can't. But on THIS team, we wait until the starter can't, and then we find out we've got no backup. Only on THIS team.

If Singletary's got any sanity left--and that's a big if--his starter's Nate Davis. You remember Nate, don't you? Last year's preseason hero, with all those tantalizing physical tools? He had a rougher preseason THIS time around--though no rougher than, say, Smith's--and Singletary responded by publicly humiliating him, bashing his work-ethic and doubting his commitment. (Of course, Singletary's had nothing but pats on the back for the guys who've screwed up the REGULAR season.) Fully deflated, Nate cleared waivers and was stashed on the practice squad, where he's languished ever since.

Naturally, Nate would make some mistakes, though whether he'd make more than Carr (or even Smith) is highly debatable. But think about the spark he'd provide. He wouldn't save the season, or even the coach's job. But he'd stretch the field, make big plays, just inject some LIFE.

Singletary won't do it, though. As long as he's stuck in his fantasy world--yesterday, he actually called us "a team of destiny"--he'll go by the book. He'll start Carr, whom he doesn't trust, and his team will stay as it always is, and will always be, until the day this coach is gone.

Dead.