It was all too much.

The weight of our expectations. The attacks on his competence. Add a nice dose of his roiling intensity, and who would've failed to predict this result?

Before our eyes, Mike Singletary was losing it.

It wasn't out of the blue, of course. Let's not forget the Great Dropping of Trou. When you deal with tense moments by dropping your pants, I guess you're already on pretty thin ice. And that was BEFORE the real pressure was on. This year, it was time to win, and we couldn't have been any more unprepared. He had to expect a hostile response. When you lose, you get questions. When you're unable even to get to the line, you get HARD questions.

And that's when Singletary totally flipped.

Truth be told, Jason Cole's "dad-gum Yahoo commercial" wasn't that big a deal. Sure, it cast a bad light on our organization in general and Jimmy Raye in particular. But to anyone who watched the Seattle game, it was thoroughly unsurprising. I mean, really. Our systemic defects, on offense especially, were fairly self-evident. Cole might've dug up some juicy details, but his basic point was hardly news.

Yet Singletary went ballistic. He was pissed off at Cole, but not nearly as much as he was at Cole's source, whom he quickly ID'd as Rattus Norvegicus. When Raye spoke in his own defense, Singletary didn't "stand" by his man, so much as he "lay in the grass" by his man. And facing mere softballs on KPIX, he answered with venom so clearly misplaced that he seemed to be truly insane. He could've been played by that Letterman guy, and you well might've struggled to see any difference.

And, with that, we got back on the field. The Saints were the champs, the paragons of both organizational brains and offensive muscle. The Niners, by contrast, were imploding spectacularly.

The stage was set. Tonight the nation would witness the end.

The opening script was as you'd imagine. Frank Gore up the gut, Frank Gore up the gut, and a snap 10 feet over Alex Smith's head. (Okay, maybe not QUITE the way you'd imagine, but still.) The Saints go on a nice roll through our D, and that, you'd think, is pretty much that.

But that's when our wacky week got even weirder.

'Cause from that point on, Singletary's crazy promises were damn near proven true.

"We will not TRY to stop Drew Brees. We WILL stop Drew Brees."

Of course, no one REALLY stops Drew Brees, but with just enough pressure, and some surprising coverage from a thin and wounded secondary, we came pretty close. Brees had some fancy numbers, with a rating of 109, but he netted just 237 yards on just 6.2 per throw. And by stopping the run as we typically do (50 on 2.1), we held the Saints under 300 yards.

And THAT'S an effing achievement, kids.

"We will not TRY to move the ball against New Orleans' defense. We WILL move the ball and we will score."

On our first two drives, we ran six plays, and five of 'em were runs. Needless to say, we didn't move the ball or score. But once Smith connected with Josh Morgan for 15, everything just opened up. With huge assists from the offensive line, we passed and ran--in that order, mind you--for more than 400 yards, 9 per pass and 6 per run.

Move the ball? Check. Score? Well, we weren't shut out, if that's what you mean, but more on that later.

"Alex will be fine Monday night."

It started with rapidly sending the plays in. I guess I've gotta admit that Singletary DID "figure it out," though if all it took was a wristband, I don't understand why we ever had trouble. But what a difference it made for Smith, to be able to study the defense a bit. He prepared for the pressure and saw where to go. He was confident and assertive in going downfield, and by and large he was deadly accurate; his back-to-back passes to Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis, for a total of 73 yards, were awesome. And, of course, his two-minute drill, to tie the game late, was breathtaking.

By now we know better than to call this his "breakthrough"; he's had plenty of other such "breakthroughs" before. But he was fine, all right. Fine indeed.

When we went down nine-zip, we very easily could've just died. Instead we gave the Saints all they could handle. After all the chaos we'd faced all week, that was inspiring, and--you heard it here first--a tribute to Singletary.

And yet, don't forget, the result was the same. We lost.

Despite better playcalling and better play, the big mistake just haunts this team. Our follies in the red-zone--or at least inside the 30--continued, in all their wretched glory. For all of Smith's highlights, his two interceptions (both tipped, but with one throw high) were killers, dropping his rating to a blah 82. Throw in Delanie Walker's fumble, and points were left all over the field. Add the two on the safety, and the three we gave up on Phillip Adams' muffed punt--hurry back, Ted and Kyle--and it's somewhat amazing we stayed in the game.

Same thing defensively. I don't blame Smith for leaving time on the clock; if the two-pointer had failed, we'd have needed that time for the onside kick. But it was up to the D to make the last stop. And though solid 'til then, it just couldn't make it.

So yeah, we stood toe-to-toe with the Super Bowl champs, and it's great to see some signs of hope. (Certainly, in THIS division, anything's possible.)


We're past the point of moral victories. Past taking pride in close defeats. We saw enough of those LAST year. And like I said: THIS year, it's time to win.

We're oh-and-two, and Singletary must turn it around. Can he do it?

Hey. Crazier things have happened.