Mike Singletary a single-minded inspirer
Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images
Mike Singletary has been ramping up competition within the San Francisco squad.
The San Francisco 49ers coach, whose workouts are as tough as his candor, tries to turn around a down-on-its-luck franchise.
August 6, 2009
The San Francisco 49ers used to count rings.
Now they count rungs.
Down the ladder of success they've gone, finishing with a losing record six years in a row and pushing those five Super Bowl victories further and further into the past.
Coach Mike Singletary is pushing back, in part by staging one of the league's most rough-and-tumble training camps.
"We just have to be better in everything we do," said Singletary, who had a Hall of Fame career as a middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears. "We can't waste a drill; we can't waste a practice. We're too far behind the elite teams in this league, and we have to earn the right to be amongst them.
"Before we can talk about a championship, we have to practice like a championship team. And we're just not there now."
Heaven knows they're trying. One of Singletary's favorite workouts is the so-called "nutcracker drill," which pits teammates nose to nose to see who can run over the other. And the 49ers will have more than their share of drills. San Francisco has scheduled 15 consecutive days of practices, most of them double days in pads. (The Oakland Raiders, by comparison, opened their camp with four days of walk-throughs before any contact.)
But it was Singletary's ability to lead and inspire his players that prompted the team to remove the interim designation from his title in December, making him the full-time head coach. The man he replaced, Mike Nolan, had gone 18-37 in parts of four seasons, missing the playoffs each time.
In his first game, Singletary's passionate “I want winners” postgame speech became a YouTube sensation. It came after he banished volatile tight end Vernon Davis to the locker room with 10 minutes left in a 34-13 loss at home to Seattle. Initially humiliated and fuming about the very public rebuke, Davis would later become one of the coach's adamant supporters.
"It's the first time I've had a coach that really stayed on me like that," Davis said. "I looked into his eyes and from that day I could tell where he wanted to go with things."
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[ Edited by StOnEy333 on Aug 6, 2009 at 21:31:36 ]