Conversations With Myself: Can Singletary be a Catalyst?

Oct 23, 2008 at 4:33 PM

Can new head coach Mike Singletary be the catalyst that turns this team around? I asked myself this question over and over and really couldn't come up with a straight answer. I felt like I had multiple personality disorder. So, in the spirit of MPD, here is a little argument I had with myself earlier today.


Many people have come out in support of Singletary. Mike Nolan, Mike Ditka, Mike Martz (seriously, is everyone in the NFL named Mike?), Trent Dilfer, Scott McCloughan... the list goes on and on. Universally, everyone says the same thing: the man can move mountains with his power of motivation. He could get a slug to happily roll around in salt.

The simple fact is, the 49ers need a better head coach, not a cheerleader. Singletary was already the de jure motivational speaker for the team; it was one of the primary reasons that Mike Nolan brought him to the team. This is so typical of the Yorks. "Hey, what we're doing is not working. Let's do more of the same!"

I'm sure Singletary is a great person. I'm sure he has many an important skill set and can contribute to an NFL coaching staff. But what is his philosophy on offense? What about on defense? When pressed he couldn't answer. He was more vague and political than a candidate running for office. The team needs to get to a "higher level" and he has "full confidence" in Mike Martz.

The 49ers need a coach that can create a game plan and execute it on game days. It doesn't even seem like Singletary can get a handle on his offensive coordinator, let alone dictate a particular course of action. "Hey Martz, I want you to make the offense better. I'm not sure how to make that happen, but that's why we pay you, right?" It's like when you know you could do your manager's job better than he/she could. This is an NFL franchise, not the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.

Mike Nolan's biggest failing was that he had to rely too much on coordinators and was beholden to their skill set. If Nolan's offensive coordinator was a West Coast coach (McCarthy) a conservative Zampese coach (Turner) or an aggressive pass happy coach (Martz) Nolan was just along for the ride.

Can the 49ers really afford another coach who is just along for the ride? Nolan never lost the locker room. The problem with the 49ers was never motivation. The problem was schematic - it was with Xs and Os. What the 49ers need may just be the one thing that Singletary can't give them.


Now hold on just one minute. Who are you to doubt his football knowledge? Mike Ditka, who himself was never a coordinator, referred to Singletary as a coach on the field. He knows his stuff and can get it across to the team better than Nolan could. At least Singletary won't pantomime a player writhing on the floor in fake agony to make a point. How can you argue that Mike Nolan never lost the locker room when he pulled stunts like the whole writhing things against Jonas Jennings and completely threw Alex Smith under the bus?

What is it the 49ers need more than anything else? It's not smarter coordinators, or a smarter coach. The team needs an IDENTITY. The "Big Sub 3-4-4-3 Hybrid Nickel Prevent Super Defense" isn't a real defense, despite Nolan's best attempts to make it one. And that offense? For three years Nolan and McCloughan tried to build the Brian Billick Ravens: run, run, run, pass if you have to, run, run, run. Now all of a sudden the 49ers are supposed to be some kind of passing machine? Right. Good luck with that. Call me when the diagnosis for "David Carr Syndrome" is finally official for JT O'Sullivan.

Singletary gives this team what it's been thirsting for. Fire, will and excitement. Fourth quarter collapses come about because a team cashes it in and Singletary won't let that happen. If he has to strap on pads and go out there himself, he will do it.

With Singletary at the helm the defense will be more aggressive. He will let Manusky loose and allow him make the calls without Nolan's conservative meddling. Singletary can also make sure Martz runs the ball when he should. Martz is no match for Singletary's intense death stare.

Singletary will let the 49ers break the conservative chains of the Mike Nolan era and while it won't get the team to the playoffs, it will at least make them better than they were under Mike Nolan. And if that happens then the Yorks made the right call.


What do you think? Can Singletary do it? Do you agree with me or me? (Lots of options, I know.)
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Michael
    My thoughts exactly. The only thing that would have been worse is if Martz had been made HC. We need someone who masters detail in coaching, knows the X's and O's and can actually gameplan; which is where Nolan failed in spectacular fashion. We need a coach who coachs during practice. I will never get TBC's comment that when the players messed up a play in practice Nolan just moved on to the next thing on the schedule. I love Singletary, unfortunately I truly fear he is not the answer.
    Oct 25, 2008 at 11:52 AM
  • LordSilva
    I definately agree with you..Mike Singletary will make this team a lot more intense..he will help them get that fire..and he will sure as hell make this team keep fighting until the end.
    Oct 25, 2008 at 10:43 AM
    Response: Agree with me, with an article like this I found this comment a little funny :)
  • Tony Mobley
    I'm with (both of) you...I am conflicted as well. I'd like to think that Singletary didn't get the other head coaching jobs for a reason, whatever that reason may be. That motivational stuff tends to wear off after awhile, akin to seeing The Dark Knight 7 times: after the initial viewing, one leaves the theater excited, but after the 6th time, the acting and dialogue begin to exhibit flaws. Similarly, a rousing speech may effect the outcome of one game, but would a speech per game eventually yield diminished inspiration? If it were that easy, wouldn't every team have a motivational speaker on staff? On the other hand, Nolan has had 3+ years to get it done. The roster is undeniably more talented overall, but the winning percentage is still lacking. Maybe this team needs an unorthodox approach, fueled by sparking the emotions. I am certain of one thing: I will be happy a) when we enter two minute warnings with at least two timeouts available, and b) the post-game press conferences may actually elicit a coherent answer from the coaching staff, rather than the politician-esque responses given by Nolan. Loved the commentary, Oscar.
    Oct 24, 2008 at 5:01 PM
  • niner
    Belichek and Seifret could win as D head coaches but once they lose their oc they are in trouble. ( does the name Trestman ring a bell?) Mike S can do well, just give him a real GM. Let scotty do draft reports and check the waiver wire ( hopefully no more jennings, sims please) or fire him. We need a tuna or Walrus to keep the team headed in the right direction. NO more or this cave man foot ball ......grunt grunt we play hard man, stuff. Lets play smarter , faster and more efficeiently the other team has to work harder and lose. ( how much harder did Denver have to play to beat us in 1989? NO matter how hard they played they were out of the game by the first quarter) Jed need his on "wlash" not some nameless non football VP's who do what?????
    Oct 23, 2008 at 8:44 PM
  • NinerTico
    Great point point of view. However, I think every one who has an opinion of Singletary underestimates him at all different levels. I believe that the power of the psyche can have a significant impact on the direction and influence of the team. Seriously! Singletary, has that power to build on the core the Nolan built. But he will do it HIS way. Man, I really hope I am right in thinking that Singletary can bring his "style and stamp" to this championship hungry organization decrypt, swimming for some of that land called the SuperBowl! He has been influenced by two architect of NFL franchises alone: Mike Diltka and our very own Bill Walsh. Each stamping their place in history without question. There is no history of Mike Singletary as a head coach, but he will confidently grab his opportunity with all the server embodied in his eyes as niddle linebacker Chicago Bears. How ironic tha a former foe comes to be our next HC. God bless him and may he reach that so elusive of grails...winning a championship.
    Oct 23, 2008 at 5:45 PM

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