When it was over—after Jay Cutler had put the bow on a game he'd been wrapping for the Niners all night, after two losing teams had collaborated on a game as hideous as any in memory—Mike Singletary did the strangest thing.

He raised his arms in triumph.

Instead of exploiting the countless opportunities that Cutler had given him to make this a rout, he'd decided to just keep giving them back. Instead of burying the Bears in their own incompetence, he'd decided to give Cutler—like Favre and Manning—a golden chance to steal the win. By his own hand, Cutler—easily the league's most overrated quarterback—had failed. And Singletary thus had broken a four-game losing streak to arrive at four-and-five.

And for this, he celebrated like he'd just won the Super Bowl. He acted as if he'd really achieved something.

I love the Niners. And trust me, I'm glad they won. But right then, at that moment, I didn't feel like celebrating.

All I wanted was Singletary fired.

Understand the context. Against a good offense, the Bears' defense melts like butter. In the previous three weeks, it had faced the Bengals and the Cards. (No need to speak of the Browns.) They'd combined to put up almost 90 points and 900 yards. Now, off a short week and a long flight, that D was ours for the crushing. Sure, our new spread-offense had hit some bumps against the Titans, but if it was gonna improve "going forward"—as Singletary of course had sworn—this was certainly as good a week as any. Vernon Davis went so far as to promise "destruction," and despite the typical overreaction to such bulletin-board puffery, no one dared to think he was wrong.

Thing is, Singletary's not the "destroying" type.

In the aftermath of that Titans game, and particularly Alex Smith's not-quite-ready-for-prime-time play, Singletary would do one of two things. Either he'd stay the course, realizing this spread offense is high-risk but still our best, or he'd say I told you so and retreat into his run-first shell. Needless to say, the first reaction was the better one, and at the outset of the Bears game it looked like Singletary agreed. Smith threw four passes in our first six plays, and we put together a decent drive that probably would've gone for a touchdown were it not for an ill-timed Crabtree drop. Disappointingly, Joe Nedney missed a short field-goal attempt after 50 straight makes. Clearly, though, we were on our way.

But a weird thing happened when that kick sailed wide. Usually, no matter how impotent our offense is, Singletary stands there brainlessly clapping. Now, though, he reacted to a pretty successful drive by glaring with those eyes of his. Niner fans everywhere felt an ominous rumble.

Uh oh.

The change was immediate. On our next drive, for the zillionth time, we ran on first, ran on second, threw on third, and punted on fourth. And on our third drive, though we went back to the spread and picked up three first-downs, Smith threw his sixth pick in four games, when Crabtree had the inside track but Smith threw it short to the outside. And when we turned Cutler's second pick into our first score (courtesy almost entirely of Tarell Brown's return), and when it was clear that Cutler would throw in any of various random directions, you could just tell.

So much for playing to win. It's time again to play not to lose, and hope for the best.

Save for one field-goal, we spent the rest of the night catching picks and kicking punts. After throwing five passes on that opening drive, Smith threw five in the entire fourth quarter, the longest of which went for all of five yards. It was the same philosophy that failed in Minnesota, the same philosophy that failed in Indy, and it was all set up to fail again. And if Cutler weren't the league's most overrated quarterback, it certainly would've. As it was, he took the Bears all the way to the Niners' 12 before bailing us out with a last stupid throw.

We almost let him off the hook. He'd thrown five picks, but we'd turned them into only 216 yards (a pathetic 106 in the air) and 10 points against that awful defense we'd vowed to destroy. What any self-respecting offense would've turned into a blowout, Singletary chose to take down to the wire. As it always has since the dawn of time, playing not to lose set us up to do exactly that, and we were saved by only our own dumb luck.

After he struck his triumphant pose, Singletary did what he seems to do best: talk. "I thought our defense would do a good job with their offense—that's the reason I chose to run the ball and not take risks." In other words, I don't trust Smith to throw to red shirts, so I'll just wait for Cutler to do it, all the way to the very end.

I just don't get this guy. Okay, fine, he didn't wanna "take risks." He wanted to be safe. But wouldn't it have been safe to take those picks and put 30 points on the board? Wouldn't it have been safe to end this game in the third quarter? I'd say so. But in Singletary's world, what's safe is to sit on a four-point lead and give your opponent chance after chance to take it away. Yup, no risk there. Tell me, Coach. If you didn't "take risks," why did you tell us that what the win made you feel most was "relief"?

Oh, you took risks all right. Just imagine if you'd lost. Just imagine if your stodgy strategy had failed again, if your losing streak now stood at five, if your playoff dreams, instead of merely fading, were gone.

Just imagine the sound of the screams for your head.

You said you were feeling "relief," huh? I no longer believe you on most things, Coach. But on this one, trust me. I believe you.

You got lucky, Coach. Pure and simple. So please, put your arms down. Along with your offense, you just look ridiculous.