Fire Singletary. But Not Yet.

Oct 27, 2010 at 9:10 AM

The Mike Singletary regime in San Francisco is effectively over. Anyone who cant see the writing on the wall for this season's coaching staff was also probably singing the praises of Nintendo-64 in 2005. Goldeneye may have been good, but come on.

The issues are not new (no strong Xs and Os background being the primary culprit) they are just more apparent after a 1-6 start. Sing wishes to will his team better, and quite simply will doesn't mean squat when other teams play smarter.

Singeltary made the 49ers his team, and much like other teams around the league, the team became an extension of it's coach. The only problem is that Sing is a volatile motivational specialist who fails to understand the complexities of football strategy at the elite level.

So now the 49ers, with an aging defense and young offense, need someone who can take them beyond motivation and into the realm of elite strategy. And I'm not talking Mike Martz strategy (You're welcome, Jay Cutler). We need an innovative offensive expert to lead this team and take an offense with so much latent potential into something that actually functions after the 20-play script.

But we do not need that coach now.

Firing Singletary mid-season would be the wrong move, and it would cement Jed York's Daniel Snyder-like delusion. Say what you want about Jerry Jones, but when he was asked who was to blame for the Cowboys start he first pointed the finger at himself. He did not make some outlandish playoff prediction via text message.

Problem 1. Who takes over?
There really is no option to hire an external coach mid-season. Between the hiring of a staff (any respectable coach would want his own staff) and any schematic changes the team would effectively revert to a week one stage while the league was at mid-season form. It would be like strapping a helmet on a Justin Beiber and telling him to block a blitzing Patrick Willis. (If anyone knows how I can arrange said carnage, please let me know).

So who would replace Sing? Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, offensive line coach Mike Solari and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula come to mind. Tomsula, who coached in NFL Europe before being hired to the 49ers, is the only one of the three with head coaching experience.

And at the end of the season, whomever is selected is either going to want the head coaching job, or leave when someone else is hired. The problem here is that each one of these coaches would be a good addition to a staff and if a new coach is brought in at the end of the season, it would allow the coach to make overtures to any of the current staff he wants to keep. Having an interim head coach effectively renders that person useless after the season if he is not hired for the job.

Problem 2. No really, who takes over?
Waiting until the end of the season also allows Jed York, Trent Baalke, and Paraag Marathe to begin sourcing candidates for the coaching vacancy. The problem with the 49ers in the past is that they have fired coaches without so much as an inkling of a plan to hire a replacement. This is exactly how we ended up with Dennis Erickson, and to a certain degree, Mike Nolan.

Start researching which offensive minded candidates you want to interview. Do some preliminary research. For the media, of course you have to keep your "Sing is our coach" face on. But anyone with eyes can see this is the only response the team can give.

Problem 3. Al Davis syndrome
One of the reasons the Raiders are in such a mess is Al Davis. He requires complete allegiance to He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-Al-Davis and, if he so desires, will fire the coach without provocation. No head coach is going to want to put himself in such a volatile position and as such, Oakland is seen as the place where coaches go to die.

If, two seasons in a row, Jed fires the head coach mid-season what message does that send to potential candidates. You've got one guess, and the answer rhymes with "Shtay Haway."

The only thing this team gains from making a mid-season move is further complications and loss of whatever prestige the 49ers have left in an already lost season.
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.


  • Scappman
    I don't agree with you on this one because of one possibility. The Niner's could put together 3 or 4 meaningless wins at the end of the season just as they have done with both Nolan and Sing, it would be construed as "Getting better!" Of course then Sing would be retained, "Because they have something to build upon!" If and this is a huge IF, the York's finally get it through their thick skulls that he needs to be gone, then for the sake of the team and all Niner fan's, let him go, NOW! As a head coach Sing is not as smart as the man he is trying to emulate, Mike Ditka. And that's saying something!
    Oct 30, 2010 at 9:43 AM
    Response: I guess the implicit thread here is that the Yorks should have made up their mind already. At this point, if the 49ers string together 7 wins the Yorks should still fire Sing. But I can totally understand where you're comin from. 7 wins at the end of the season would sway the Yorks. And that is a scary thought.
  • jj37
    Oscar: I believe Surly was saying that Sing gets it that he's not an x's and o's coach. Other than that, I used to believe the club should fire Sing mid-season for the fans. But though your argument was flawed about the two seasons in a row bit, your basic point made sense to me. So I'll wait - as long as they bring in an innovative OFFENSIVE mind! My hope is Chris Peterson. Commentators say that's too risky - after the Yorks' poor track record, they need a sure-fire hit!. But the rap on most college coaches is that they are better recruiters than x's and o's coaches. But though Peterson is clearly a great recruiter, he's also innovative and gutsy as a sideline coach! He seems to always win the chess match with opposing coaches.
    Oct 28, 2010 at 4:09 PM
    Response: Now that I read Surly's comments again, you're totally right. My bad. I know there are lots of innovative college coaches right now. I just feel like a successful and innovative NFL OC is a much better choice. The 49ers do need a sure thing, and I'm not sure that anyone from the college ranks looks that way to me. Harbaugh is the closes thing and even then, I still have my doubts.
  • sl
    Al Davis has shown what he has forgotten is till more than what is the combined football knowledge of Denise Jed and John YOrk. They are beyond a doubt the worst owners in pro sports because i think they don't like football. They hide, say stupid things and do even more stupid things as though they really think of the fans as being ignorant. After watching the great 49er teams of the past, the fans don't know this team is badly coached even if they somehow make the playoffs? I know this is just a cash cow for them, but one would think they even know a lousy team isnt going to help get them a stadium. ( makes the team worth more) Its hard to believe but i think Jed is as dumb or even dumber than his father!
    Oct 28, 2010 at 11:48 AM
    Response: Once they hire the right head coach and the right personnel man, things will seemingly fall into place. Not every owner has to be knowledgeable about football. But they do have to hire good people.
  • Frank
    Wanting Singletary replaced now is understandable...but, it's not practical. Most of the potential candidates with good to excellent coaching pedigrees are under TV contracts. I'm talking about guys like Billick, Gruden, Cowher and others. There's no sense in promoting from I don't see anyone on staff with the requisite experience the team really needs. So, what I'd like to see the Yorks do is a packaged deal...hire Parcells as your COO/president, whatever you want to call him. He hires a top GM and a head coach or empowers your GM to do that. BL is we get a focused leadership group instead of this piecemealing we've seen ever since Mariucci got fired.
    Oct 28, 2010 at 11:29 AM
  • Breckelj
    Absolutly love the article. I couldn't have said it better myself. Not that I am putting a lid on this season, but I think that looking forward might be prudent to do now. I have said this many times, only in private to a few people, but now might be the time to bring it to light. I sincerly believe that this is Sings last year, so for one I don't see them promoting within. I know that you mentioned looking for an offensive minded coach, but I would like to put Bill Cower's name in the mix. Why not???? Secondly, and you might want to sit down for this, but you heard it first. Why would the 49ers use another first round draft pick on another QB. That basically says we are rebuilding for the next 4 years. Here is what I think will happen. The 49ers trade their first round or second round pick next year for........................wait for it...............Tony Romo. As desperate as Jerry Jones is, you said it first Oscar. I think that the debacle that is the cowboys could wind up in our favor. They get a young QB and we get a proven QB that would give us enough time to draft a rookie QB with the other pick and build him in, in a few years. Comments. Would love to hear em......
    Oct 28, 2010 at 10:19 AM
    Response: 1) I don't want to hire Bill Cowher. He's Mike Nolan but on steroids. How long did it take him to win that ring? Too long. I think he will be a good coach somewhere, but not here. 2) Trade the first round pick for Romo, huh? Interesting idea. I like the idea of trading for a vet, but I don't know that I would do it for what is likely to be a top 10 pick. I think we play next season out with a cheap vet and draft a QB in the SECOND round, after drafting a pass-rusher first.
  • Fresniner
    N64 Greats: Zelda: Ocarina of Time (How could you not mention this one?) Golden Eye Mario Kart Mario 64 Super Smash Brothers Perfect Dark Agreed with you article. Firing the head coach now won't help us, I am assuming Jed has told Singletary that if he at least runs the table the rest of the season, he could possibly save his HC gig. I doubt that even if he did, he would be able to save his job. We need a strong offensive minded HC, with an even stronger GM. But alas, I doubt very much, that the boy wonder will take that very obvious path. Instead, they will end up firing Singletary, probably mid season, or right after the last game of the season and spend the next month or two looking for a replacement, only to get someone with "potential" with zero HC experience, or even worse, a retread with a bad track record, ala Wade Phillips or Chan Gailey. Ughhh, so depressing....where's my N64 at?
    Oct 28, 2010 at 9:03 AM
  • OG9R
    Its a shame of what happened to this team. We gave both Alex and Sing more than enough time to prove their worth and I think its about time we move on. As absurd as it may sound, I think we still have a chance to win the west but Seattle is developing faster than expected and the Cards are not far behind. We should take advantage of the opportunity NOW. There are qualified players and coaches out there if Jed's willing to invest in quality. Credit due to Paraag though...he orchestrated a good draft for us. LET'S GET IT TOGETHER 9RS!
    Oct 27, 2010 at 5:49 PM
  • Surly-Z
    I agree with your main point. But the issue with Sing isn't that he's not an Xs and Os coach. He gets that. He's humble about it and has even said his best talent is surrounding himself with people that are smarter than him and has called himself a "big picture guy." However, his choice of Jimmy Raye suggest he doesn't have a good sense of who the right people to surround himself with are. The other problem: the screaming, the tirades, the insecurity of calling back the team after the seattle loss because of said screaming. If you're winning it makes you look great, if not it precipitates your downfall. And thirdly, he wants to re-create the 85 bears 25 years later and doesn't realize the power-run era has been replaced by the spread, QB-driven era--which is especially frustrating given the QB and WRs we have are a good fit in the spread, as many ahve mentioned. Also, slight inaccuracy in the second to last paragraph, Jed didn't fire the HC midway through last year so its not "two seasons in a row" and beside it may not have been Jed but his father--that's right around when that power transition happened too.
    Oct 27, 2010 at 5:00 PM
    Response: He gets Xs and Os? Really? Then why cant he scheme himself out of a paper bag? UPDATE: Clearly my reading comprehension took the flight to London with the 49ers. After re-reading your comments I agree. He surrounded himself with the wrong people. I would even go so far that a HC that HAS to be so reliant on others is a ticking bomb for failure.
  • ninersush
    just hold on a second....goldeneye and mariokart. legendary games.
    Oct 27, 2010 at 1:46 PM
    Response: Agreed. Mario Kart is LEGEN-wait for it... DARY!
  • Marco
    "Waiting until the end of the season also allows Jed York, Trent Baalke, and Paraag Marathe to begin sourcing candidates..." Are you kidding? Jed "Lucky Sperm" York is a TOTAL incompetent just like Daddy Clueless York. Paraag Marathe is a numbers cruncher who blows smoke up Jed's butt. Trent Baalke is a scout. Where are they qualified to select a new coach. Unless the Yorks are run out of town, another ten years of losing seasons are set in stone! 49er fans have to organize, BOYCOTT the stadium, DO NOT renew season tickets, and picket 49er headquarters!!!!!!!!!!!
    Oct 27, 2010 at 1:36 PM
    Response: Lucky Sperm, lol. Marco, I agree that they might run into some issues selecting a coach, but doesn't every GM (a scout by nature unless in the rare instance it's a former coach) run into that problem?
  • ben martorella
    There are not many people more upset than I am. I have been a niner fan since 1957. I have been through the bad times, the better times, the Great times (5 super bowl champions) the decline and now this. Why can we not develop Alex Smith? Yes, had he not been the #1 overall he would have been gone by now.
    Oct 27, 2010 at 1:21 PM
    Response: Ben, thank you for being a fan for so long. I'm sorry you have to deal with this team now. Hopefully this team can turn it around with a good head coach selection after the season.
  • mike49ersgo
    I agree with your assessment but, in my humble opinion there needs to be a football operations person/GM with experience before the coaching search, and that person needs to find the coach and management needs to let him do his job.
    Oct 27, 2010 at 12:37 PM
    Response: Agreed. Parcells much? But that would mean another defensive coach and a GM with absolute power.
  • Barry Williams
    Why not fire him now? How can we get any worse? Losing to the Panthers and only beating a Raider team who's QB had a single digit rating. We got smoked by Seattle, KC and have given up so many yards it's ridiculous. There is too much talent on this team to be playing this poorly. Not other statement shows the ineptitude of a bum coach more than that. 1-6. Last place. Playoffs?
    Oct 27, 2010 at 11:14 AM
    Response: Why not fire him now, Barry? Did did you not read my article?

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