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Farewell to 49ers Fanboy
February 13, 2009, 10:13 am
Filed under: Announcement

I’m not actually going anywhere. But the new website for the 49ersfancast and yet-to-be-named Prospector’s Corner blog is finally up. http://www.49ersfancast.com is live! The first episode will be up today.

Update your bookmarks!



Introducing the 49ers Fancast!
February 12, 2009, 1:53 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags:

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, this will hopefully come as good news to you. If you’ve been directed here, you likely have heard through various other channels about the new podcast coming. We plan to have our first episode within the next two weeks.

I have long felt that the 49ers fan community needed a fan podcast that was a) regularly updated, b) had professional audio quality, and c) reflected the opinions of the fans. To that end, the 49ersfancast has a few clearly defined goals:

1) Be Consistent
We plan to be a weekly show, rain or shine, barring unavoidable emergencies and situations. We will start sometime this offseason and continue until we are unable to. Basically, we plan to establish a record of consistency long before the 2009 season even starts. If we have nothing of our own to say, at the very least we will recap what the Bay Area is saying about the 49ers and giving our opinion on that.

2) Be Blogging
We plan to maintain a regular blog, basically giving more detailed opinions and analysis than we will on the podcast. We try to always back up what we say with evidence and statistics, and when we speculate we’ll be sure to say that. We won’t get everything right, but we will make an effort to be concise, accurate, and professional.

3) Be Listening

  • Every comment on the blog that is reasoned or passionate, and sometimes both, will be heard on the podcast.
  • Every email that is sent into our inbox at 49ersfancast@gmail.com — even if it is about how much we suck! — will be heard on the podcast, unless you specify you do not want it public. We will always respect the wishes of the emailer.
  • Sometimes you can’t call into KNBR and have your voice heard, because of stringent screening and time limits. We will soon establish a voicemail line so that wherever you’re listening to the 49ers Fancast, you can call in with your cellphone — if you have free long distance of course — and tell us what you think! Your comments will be aired, as long as they are family friendly, of course. If you slip up in your passion, it’s cool, we’ll just bleep it. But we want those younger 49er fans to be able to listen with their folks, too!

4) Get interviews with local writers
On my original Podcast, The Adventures of Indiana Jim, I have interviewed authors, including New York Times Bestseller Scott Sigler (which will be available this Saturday, if you’re curious). I am confident that as we establish a record of consistency and professionalism, we will be able to obtain periodic interviews with folks like Matt Maiocco and Matt Barrows. This will come with time, of course, and we will never presume that they owe us anything. But we will give it the old “college try,” as they say.

If you’d like to keep up with updates on what we’re doing, you can follow on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/49ersfancast. Keep an eye out on 49ersfancast.com as well for the new website, coming soon!



A Statistical Analysis of Jimmy Raye

When new 49ers Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye’s name came up as a candidate, Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat provided a statistical analysis of his past performance in the same position. I thought it would be telling to go a little deeper, as only a total geek can, and take a look at what players he had available to him when he held that position. First the analysis of what I found, followed by the exhaustive (or exhausting) numbers.

Analysis
A few things stand out about Jimmy Raye’s career. First is that none of his starting Quarterbacks finished a season with less than 20 sacks, aside from DeBerg who narrowly missed the mark with 19. In the cases where the running game was poor, one would assume the Offensive line was also poor. 20 Sacks is by no means an alarming number, but where it gets closer to 30 you pay more attention.

The next thing you see is that there were only two instances where the team had a top 10 Defense: the 2001 Redskins under Schottenheimer and the 1998 Chiefs, also under Schottenheimer. Those teams finished 8-8 and 7-9, respectively. The only seasons where his team finished above .500 was the 1999 Chiefs, and the ’83 and ’84 Rams. The 1999 Chiefs also had to contend with the Western Division Champion Seahawks, otherwise they might have made the playoffs that season.

The most statistically impressive seasons are obviously the years with Dickerson at the Rams, then the 2000 season with the Chiefs. Without the 49ers standing in the way, there’s no way to tell how far those Rams teams could have gone. As for the 2000 Chiefs team, despite Grbac throwing for career-high numbers, they finished 7-9. It’s important to note that the leading rusher was fullback Tony Richardson, whereas Kimble Anders was the Halfback. They were 18th in Total Defense that season.

Summary
In the old days of football, the Head Coach was more important than the coordinators he hired. The obvious response is “Singletary doesn’t know offense.” I wouldn’t be so sure about that, and you’d be hard pressed to convince me that it’s not sentiments about Mike Nolan repeating themselves, viz. a “defensive-minded” coach. In fact, it is a new phenomenon for the position of Offensive Coordinator to get as much attention as it does now. Nobody cared who Bill Walsh’s coordinator was, until we started to see Shanahan and Holmgren emerge as Head Coaches.

People know who Bruce Arians is, as Pittsburgh’s Offensive Coordinator, but he’s not known as an innovator by any stretch. In my opinion, I believe many fans are too easily swayed by whether or not a coordinator has a name people would recognize, or whether they have coached in the Super Bowl or Playoffs. There are so many variables that go into successful teams, that to suggest the Offensive Coordinator is the most important piece to that would be folly.

Throughout his career, Raye rarely had a top-tier defense, so it’s hardly fair to blame him for the team records. Coordinators also must answer to the Head Coach, who is supposed to provide the framework in which to operate. On the rare occasion Raye had talent in the backfield, he made spectacular use of them. On a few occasions you see where the back had significant numbers in the passing game, which bodes well for Gore as a multi-purpose threat. In 2000, he had arguably one of the least stellar backfields in history and a career backup in Grbac as his starter, yet Gonzalez and Alexander both exceeded 1000 yards receiving.

We know Frank Gore is the most talented player on the 49ers roster, so it only makes sense that he be highlighted, and we know Mike Martz is not the man to do that with our personnel. What we don’t know is just how good everyone else around him really is. We haven’t had a winning record since Gore has arrived, so the assumption is that his supporting cast may not be very good. However, one cannot ignore the specter of Mike Nolan. He proved himself a terrible coach, so we don’t really know how his work may have held players back or failed to bring the best out of them.

Singletary and his staff, including Jimmy Raye, have an opportunity to show us the answer to those questions. I suggest we give them that opportunity.

2005: Raiders (4-12) Head coach: Norv Turner
Total offense 21st, Rushing 29th, Passing 10th, Pts 23rd

QB: Kerry Collins 3759 Yds, 20 TDs 12 INTs 39 Sacks
RB: LaMont Jordan 1025 Yds, 9 TDs
WR: Randy Moss 60 rec 1005 Yds

* LaMont Jordan 70 rec 563 Yds
* 27th total defense, 23.9 ppg and 330 ypg

2004: Raiders (5-11) Head coach: Turner
Total offense 17th, Rushing 32nd, Passing 8th, Pts 18th

QB: Kerry Collins 3495 Yds, 21 TDs 20 INTs 25 Sacks
RB: Amos Zereoue 425 Yds 3 TDs
WR: Jerry Porter 64 rec 998 Yds

* 30th total defense, 27.6 ppg and 371 ypg
* Turner oversaw the bulk of the play-calling.

2001: Redskins (8-8 ) Head coach: Marty Schottenheimer
Total offense 28th, Rushing 8th, Passing 30th, Pts 28th

QB: Tony Banks 2386 Yds, 10 TDs 10 INTs 29 Sacks
RB: Stephen Davis 1432 Yds 5 TDs
WR: Michael Westbrook 57 rec 554 Yds

* 10th Total Defense, 18.9 ppg, 302.9 ypg

2000: Chiefs (7-9) Head coach: Gunther Cunningham
Total offense 8th, Rushing 25th, Passing 5th, Pts 9th

QB: Elvis Grbac 4169 Yds, 28 TDs 14 INTs 29 Sacks
RB: Tony Richardson 697 Yds 3 TDs
TE: Tony Gonzalez 93 rec 1203 Yds 9 TDs

* Kimble Anders was the HB
* Derrick Alexander 78 Rec 1391 Yds 10 TDs
* 18th Total Defense, 22.1 ppg, 330 ypg

1999: Chiefs (9-7) Head coach: Cunningham
Total offense 12th, Rushing 4th, Passing 22nd, Pts 8th (tie)

QB: Elvis Grbac 3389 Yds, 22 TDs 15 INTs 26 Sacks
RB: Donnell Bennett 627 Yds 8 TDs
TE: Tony Gonzalez 76 rec 849 Yds 11 TDs

* Bam Morris 414 Yds
* Derrick Alexander 54 rec 832 Yds 2 TDs
* 14th Total Defense, 20.1 ppg, 314.9 ypg

1998: Chiefs (7-9) Head coach: Schottenheimer
Total offense 19th, Rushing 23rd, Passing 16th, Pts 14th

QB: Rich Gannon 2305 Yds, 10 TDs 6 INTs 25 Sacks
RB: Donnell Bennett 527 Yds 5 TDs
TE: Tony Gonzalez 621 Yds 2 TDs

* Kimble Anders 64 Rec 462 Yds 2 TDs
* Bam Morris 481 Yds 8 TDs
* 9th Total Defense, 22.7 ppg 303.4 ypg

1991: Rams (3-13) Head coach: John Robinson
Total offense 18th, Rushing 27th, Passing 7th, Pts 24th

QB: Jim Everett 3438 Yds 11 TDs 20 INTs 30 Sacks
RB: Robert Delpino 688 Yds 9 TDs
WR: Henry Ellard 64 Rec 1052 yds 3 TDs

* 21st Total Defense, 24.4 ppg 325.2 ypg

1990: Patriots (1-15) Head coach: Rod Rust
Total offense 26th, Rushing 25th, Passing 20th, Pts 28th

QB: Marc Wilson 1625 Yds 6 TDs 11 INTs 29 Sacks
QB: Tom Hodson 968 Yds 4 TDs 5 INTs 20 Sacks
QB: Steve Grogan 615 Yds 4 TDs 3 INTs 9 Sacks
RB: John Stephens 808 Yds 2 TDs
WR: Irving Fryar 856 Yds 5 TDs

* 27th Total Defense, 27.9 ppg 356.1 ypg

1986: Buccaneers (2-14) Head coach: Leeman Bennett
Total offense 27th, Rushing 12th, Passing 27th, Pts 26th

QB: Steve Young 2282 Yds 8 TDs 13 INTs 47 Sacks
RB: James Wilder 704 Yds 2 TDs
WR: Calvin Magee 45 Rec 564 Yds 5 TDs

* Steve Young 425 Rush Yds 5 TDs
* Steve DeBerg 610 Yds 5 TDs 12 INTs 9 Sacks
* 28th (Last) Total Defense, 29.6 ppg, 395.8 ypg

1985: Buccaneers (2-14) Head coach: Bennett
Total offense 23rd, Rushing 21st, Passing 17th, Pts 21st

QB: Steve DeBerg 2488 Yds 19 TDs 18 INTs 19 Sacks
RB: James Wilder 1300 Yds 10 TDs
WR: Kevin House 44 Rec 803 Yds 5 TDs

* Steve Young 935 Yds 3 TDs 8 INTs 21 Sacks
* James Wilder 53 Rec 341 Yds

1984: Rams (10-6) Head coach: Robinson

Total offense 21st, Rushing 2nd, Passing 27th, Pts 12th

QB: Jeff Kemp 2021 Yds 13 TDs 7 INTs 24 Sacks
RB: Eric Dickerson 2105 Yds 14 TDs
WR: Henry Ellard 34 Rec 622 Yds 6 TDs

* 14th Total Defense 19.8 ppg 328.7 ypg

1983: Rams (9-7) Head coach: Robinson
Total offense 12th, Rushing 9th, Passing 12th, Pts 11th

QB: Vince Ferragamo 3276 Yds 22 TDs 23 INTs 21 Sacks
RB: Eric Dickerson 1808 Yds 18 TDs
WR: Mike Barber 55 rec 657 Yds 3 TDs

* Eric Dickerson 51 Rec 404 Yds 2 TDs
* 15th Total Defense 21.5 ppg 336.6 ypgA



Big, Bold, Dumb Prediction: The OC
January 22, 2009, 3:14 pm
Filed under: 2009 Offseason, Predictions

I thought I’d kick off 2009’s offseason coverage with a little prediction.

Paul Hackett will be the Offensive Coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. Or at least he should be.

Matt Barrows is reporting that Paul Hackett is being considered for the Offensive Coordinator position ( http://tinyurl.com/ddnopm ). He is the best candidate since Scott Linehan to be a part of the discussion for the future Offensive Coordinator.

First of all, Hackett already works for the Oakland Raiders, so he likely wants to stay in the Bay Area. His sons already have experience working in the league, so he doesn’t have the parental responsibility that Scott Linehan apparently so deeply values (sarcasm).

Second, Paul Hackett is a West Coast guy, having guided Chad Pennington to two of his best seasons as a quarterback, and also having coached Jeff Garcia, Luke McCown and Quincy Carter to 90+ ratings in their respective seasons. A man who has done that with McCown and Carter? Genius.

Now, let’s look at his stats. If we want a West Coast guy, who has helped QB’s with less than stellar arms but accurate and mobile, who has shown a penchant for loyalty to a coaching staff, who has plenty of successful coaching experience both in College and in the NFL, Paul Hackett is the best choice.

2001: 27 passing 4 Rushing
Struggled with Vinny Testaverde at the helm, but Curtis Martin posted 1513 yards.

2002: 17 passing 22 Rushing
The rankings belie the fact that Pennington posted a 104 rating on the year, completed a whopping 68% of his passes and threw 22 TD’s. A fantastic season for any QB. Martin struggled with injury but still managed to post 1094 yards.

2003: 13 passing 25 Rushing
Pennington was injured for much of the season, but still he and Testaverde completed 62% and Vinny had a 90 rating on the year. Martin still ran for 1308 yards on the season.

2004: 22 passing 3 Rushing
Pennington had a quiet year of only 2673 yards, but still managed a 91 rating and 16 TD’s. The best part about this season was that Quincy Carter posted a 98 rating and averaged 8.6 yards per attempt. QUINCY CARTER! And oh yeah, Curtis Martin put up 1697 yards.

2005 to 2007 he was the Quarterbacks Coach under John Gruden in Tampa Bay. His best season came when Jeff Garcia and Luke McCown both posted 90+ ratings on the season.

I’m going out on the limb. If I’m wrong, then I’m wrong, but this is the first candidate I actually have full confidence in going forward. I didn’t in Linehan, don’t with Jagodzinski, and didn’t with Chudzinski. Paul Hackett is the coach for me.



Part 2: Big Bold Dumb Predictions (or Why God is a Football Fan)
November 6, 2008, 9:25 am
Filed under: Editorial

Something was amiss about Alex Smith at the start of this season, but we didn’t know what until he went on injured reserve for 2008. When did Smith’s shoulder experience the stress fracture? Was it when Rocky Bernard crushed him to the turf, separating his shoudler? Was it the strenuous weight-lifting on a shoulder unsupported by the clavicle? Was it Martz’s strenuous throwing regimen before training camp? No one can answer that question, but regardless, a bone fragment found itself floating inside Smith’s shoulder, ending his season.

In 2006 he was plagued by inconsistency, half his games good, the other half not. But the improvement over his rookie season was the largest in league history. It was a foundation on which to build. This preseason, Smith was plagued by errant throws, either consistently behind or above the receiver. He was learning yet another new offense, but where was the usual zip in his throws?

Gone was the kid who threw 60 yards in the wind from his knees during his pro day at Utah. Gone was the player who they said had no touch, and would deliver 5-yard passes with uncatchable mustard. Smith said it himself, that he felt comfortable throwing, but the deep throws were still a little rough. The attempted deep ball to Morgan, which fell flat in the preseason game, immediately leaps to mind. Never before had Smith underthrown a deep ball that badly, and especially a skinny post. His overthrows are myriad, but an underthrow?

Smith’s critics continue to say he was never any good at all, while those who like him as a player remember the good games in 2006, essentially a rookie season after the adjustment in 2005 from a spread option offense to a pro-style offense. 2007 was his first chance to improve on that, and three healthy games with probably the worst offensive coordinator in league history is nothing to judge by.

John Elway, in his recent column for the Sporting News, talked about JaMarcus Russell’s struggles, but it is the exact thing that happened to Alex Smith: “The fastest way to ruin a quarterback is to put him on a bad team, with a bad line, with no weapons, with no continuity in the coaching staff. That pretty much describes the current Raiders.” It absolutely describes what happened to Alex Smith.

Here’s the point: Smith’s chances to be a good NFL quarterback were cut short by injury. It’s the plain and simple truth. Football Karma is witness to the fact that despite all difficulties, Smith has conducted himself as a professional. Yesterday I brought to you the facts about Mike Nolan and his reputation in the locker room, and only one man had the balls to stand up and say the truth, and that was Alex Smith. And he clearly didn’t go far enough. He had been a good soldier, he had kept his mouth shut, he had done his best with the resources given to him.

Now Mike Nolan is gone, and Smith remains. He had every right to take a walk and leave San Francisco behind him, but he requested to stay with the team. He takes every opportunity to sit on the sideline and soak in everything he can from Mike Martz. Despite the treatment he received from Mike Nolan, he chose to stay on that sideline and be the teammate his fellow quarterbacks need. Word is that he even has his agent trying to work out a league minimum deal so that he can remain with the team.

This speaks volumes to me, and probably speaks volumes to his teammates. He stuck his neck out, risking his reputation, while others stayed silent. Now that Mike Nolan is gone, I’m sure some of them have the utmost respect for Smith because of that. What kills me is the complete lack of intellectual honesty on the part of fans and media. Smith isn’t a bust because he’s not done yet. Four seasons, two lost to injury and one a total adjustment where Rattay should have played the whole season. Only one season that actually counts for anything, and they blame Smith. Scot McCloughan said “it’s not all Mike Nolan’s fault.” It’s more his than Smith’s.

My next prediction is as obvious as it was when I first mentioned the word prediction. I can, at the very least, with confidence, predict that Alex Smith will be on the team next season. My Big, Bold, Dumb Prediction #3 is that Smith will be the starter next season. Why? It goes back to everything I said last time about the Yorks. Do you think they want to take a chance on developing a new quarterback? Don’t worry, they’ll draft one, I’ll bank on that.

I don’t believe new Head Coach Mike Singletary will bank on Shaun Hill going forward, and I think O’Sullivan will have a nice time on the waiver wire. Mike Martz will be gone because of O’Sullivan, and Big, Bold, Dumb Prediction #4 is that Singletary’s Offensive Coordinator will be a loyal man, and a disciple of the West Coast Offense. His coaching idol created it. I think Singletary trusts it.

People will say Smith is too slow for it. They’ll say his arm is better suited to throwing it downfield. I say it works just fine for Donovan McNabb who, last I checked, has a pretty strong arm. I say look at Joe Montana, and tell me he had a quick release. You can’t. These are my predictions. Let’s see what happens.



Big, Bold, Dumb Predictions (or Why God is a Football Fan)
October 28, 2008, 9:01 am
Filed under: Editorial | Tags: , , , ,

Karma, specifically Football Karma, is a very real thing.  It’s not something you can explain, but it is real nonetheless.  The old adage says, “What goes around, comes around.”  The Bible says, “What a man sows, so shall he reap.  Since there is perhaps no better metaphor for life than football, it is no wonder that the principles of life work in this world.

The character of Mike Nolan began to be revealed somewhere in the middle of 2007, and came to a head one Monday Night after a particularly embarrasing loss to Seattle.  Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle broke it down:

Behind the scenes, Smith was livid at the 49ers strength staff, who took his immobilized arm and subjected it to heavy weight training.

Smith went to Nolan. He told him he felt he was no longer helping the team, and he said he was going to say the strength staff ruined his rehab. Nolan told Smith he couldn’t say that. Smith agreed, but he wanted Nolan to say what he had just told him that his injuries were making him ineffective, which seemed evident to even the casual fan.

But Nolan never held up his end. Instead he insisted that Smith was medically cleared to play and his bad quarterbacking had nothing to do with his injuries. Smith was stunned and he didn’t know what to do. He finally told the press he was frustrated that Nolan kept saying he was healthy when he wasn’t.

http://snurl.com/4r6jq

There were some who said Alex Smith said what needed to be said.  There were others who said he should’ve kept his mouth shut.  That he shouldn’t “air the dirty laundry.”  But there was ample evidence that Nolan had lost his way when dealing with players.  Witness the accounts of Jamie Winborn and Jonas Jennings.  There are other players who had issue with Mike Nolan at this point.  From Mike Silver of Yahoo Sports:

Nolan, several Niners players say, lost the team last season, which began with high expectations following a 7-9 campaign in ‘06. Midway through a year in which San Francisco would lose eight consecutive games and finish 5-11, Nolan gave a speech to the team on the Monday after a defeat in which he announced an end to his lenient ways. It soon became known derisively in the locker room as the “Warm and Fuzzy” speech.

“He got up there and said, ‘I’m done with the warm and fuzzies,’ ” recalled one player who witnessed the talk. “He said, ‘I’ve made it too warm and fuzzy around here for too long. No more (expletive) warm and fuzzy.’ It was comical. He was up there ranting and raving and clearly trying to be something he wasn’t.”

Added another Niners player: “It was a total front. I had a comeback waiting for him if he ever said it again: ‘It’s real warm and fuzzy on the sidelines, (expletive).’”

http://snurl.com/4r6j3

It should come as no surprise that we were all fooled into thinking the locker room was together, that there was no dissent about Mike Nolan’s ability as a coach.  The players were flat-out intimidated into keeping their mouths shut.  It all fits together.  The fact that Nolan took that conversation with Alex Smith and betrayed his trust to the media speaks [i]volumes[/i].  It goes to everything I’ve ever said about the man.

It gets better.

With Martz orchestrating what amounted to a fixed quarterback competition that predictably swung in favor of O’Sullivan, a journeyman whose stint as a backup with the Detroit Lions made him the only candidate familiar with Martz’s system, Nolan appeared indecisive and disingenuous in his public comments. Hill, another career backup who signed a two-year contract with the team after performing well in the final two games of last season, was held out of training camp practices with what Nolan and Martz claimed was a tired arm; sources close to Hill say the assertion was totally fictional.

http://snurl.com/4r6j3

We know this competition was a farce.  I and many others said it from the beginning, and lo and behold it was!  Here we have Mike Martz, the supposed offensive genius (so touted by myself), and his handpicked quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan.  Hailed as an “unusual” player with “unique” qualities, O’Sullivan was seen initially as the dark horse, and then the apparent favorite.  Seven games later, we have our answer on O’Sullivan, and it isn’t good.  I had predicted even though Smith didn’t “win” the competition, he would eventually replace O’Sullivan.

We knew, from Scot McCloughan, that Smith had to show he deserved to be the starter next season.  We thought if O’Sullivan struggled, Smith would get another chance.  O’Sullivan has been replaced, but unfortunately we don’t get to see if Smith is better having sat the bench.  So I was half right.  O’Sullivan still stinks, but it’s Hill who gets another shot.

My first big, bold, dumb prediction is quite simple.  Mike Martz will not be hired as the Head Coach, nor will he be retained on Mike Singletary’s staff.  The horrible performance of his protege, mixed with his questionable 4th-quarter playcalling, mixed with his league-wide reputation, will lead McCloughan and Singletary to go a different direction.

Which leads me to my second big, bold, dumb prediction:  Mike Singletary will be hired as the Head Coach going forward.  It is my feeling the Yorks simply do not want to engage in another league-wide, nationwide search for a new head coach.  They don’t want to hit the giant reset button.  For all of Tim Kawakami’s assertions that the Yorks are at fault, they’ve done nothing but yield the reins to Mike Nolan, and now Scot McCloughan.  Singletary also has the character and credibility that Mike Nolan lacks.  He is enormously prepared for this, and will inspire loyalty in his staff.  Will he get a huge deal?  Not likely.  The control and money paid to Mike Nolan is another mistake the Yorks don’t want to repeat.  Singletary has the ear of the players, who the 49ers brass think are talented enough to be a winning team.  I happen to agree, but they need better offensive line play first!  They’re not quite ready to give up on this core yet.

Singletary has the fire, the passion, and the will to tell people like it is. is critical.  It goes straight to the issue behind big, bold, dumb predicion number three.

Which you’ll get next time.



In Defense of Mike Singletary
October 21, 2008, 2:11 pm
Filed under: Editorial

The book on Mike Nolan has been written, and “The End” has been affixed to the last page at long last.

Take a deep breath.  It’s real.

Mike Singletary is the Interim Head Coach, and immediately the critics have let fly.  It’s not necessary to expound his credentials.  Hall of Fame Linebacker, arguably the best to ever play the position, Linebackers coach at baltimore, Assistant Head Coach at San Francisco.  This is not a treatise on how his resume somehow trumps Mike Martz’s or anyone else’s.  This is a defense of Mike Singletary as a man, and why he makes an ultimately better choice as the Interim Head Coach than anyone else.

Singletary was known as “Samurai Mike” for his intimidating focus and intensity.  He was the first player to also be known as “The Minister of Defense,” before Reggie White would earn that moniker.  Singletary, like White, is an ordained minister.  Singletary proved his work ethic, leadership, strength and quality on the football field.

But Singletary did something after his playing career which earns more respect, in my mind, than anything else.  He retired and he went home.  He wrote a book entitled, “Daddy’s Home at Last.”  For any parent, the title of that book alone touches the heart.  Mike Singletary took care of business at home.  He became the father his seven children needed.  After retiring in 1992, he didn’t come to coaching for another eleven years.  That is a long time to wait for a man with a desire to coach.  He saw his priorities correctly.

It is this intrinsic personal character that defines Singletary.  This is not going to be a religious discussion, but Singletary’s belief and faith in Jesus Christ means character is a part of his heart.  He believes strongly in personal accountability, telling the truth, working at your job as though working for God.  Not that he turns his job into a chance to proselytize the unbelievers, but rather if he’s a coach, he coaches to the best of his ability.  This is his foundational philosophy.

Singletary maintained a career as a motivational speaker and founded the company Leadership Zone with Rick DeMarco.  Their goal was simple, but profound: to “work with organizations to develop employees’ leadership potential, teaching them to take responsibility for their role in the organization and to commit to realizing its vision, goals and objectives.”  Responsibility.  Something Mike Nolan could never accept, yet ultimately answered to.  IN Mike Singletary, here is a man whose life has been dedicated to leadership, whether personal, spiritual, or professional.  A man who led by example on the field, and has put himself into a position to teach others to lead.

As it pertains to coaching, he was coached by one of the best in Mike Ditka.  For all of Ditka’s fiery personality and sometimes rude and senseless behavior, his players wanted to fight for him.  His longtime assitant Buddy Ryan created the vaunted 46 Defense, and together with Singletary, kept that Defense among the best in the NFL for a decade.  The story is already out, but Singletary sought out another of the greatest coaches in history, our very own Bill Walsh.  He would fly to the Bay Area to meet with Walsh on his own dime, and Walsh became a mentor.

For all the things people are saying about Mike Singletary, he has just been handed the Interim position, and deserves a chance to show what he’s got.  The tenure of Mike Nolan, a defensive-minded coach, has soured a lot of people on the leadership of a man who made his name with Defense.  But no one has ever accused Mike Singletary of being “vanilla.”  No one has ever questioned his integrity.  No one can say he has the ego of Nolan or even Mike Martz.  He will never be accused of throwing anyone under the bus, because he never will.  Here is a man who immediately commands respect in the room.

Singletary remains an unproven commodity, and has now earned his opportunity to shine.  He has just over half a season to show what he’s got, because if the Yorks let him go without knowing what they’re getting, they stand the chance of him succeeding elsewhere.  Fans and media alike seem reluctant to give him any chance of success, writing him off even before his introductory press conference.

The players will fight for Mike Singletary.  He is a balanced individual, unlike Mad Mike over there on offense.  What this team needs now, more than ever, is not an X’s and O’s Head Coach.  With Martz on offense and Manusky on defense, he has capable assistants.  Martz really doesn’t need more on his plate right now, and Manusky maintains continuity on Defense.  They need a man who they respect, because who do you prefer getting on you after a dumb penalty?  Mike Nolan?  Mike Martz?  Or one of the greatest players in the history of the NFL?  Mike Singletary will never assume he knows more than he really does, and he will never assume he has the media fooled.

No, Mike Nolan did not lose the locker room.  He was not in any danger of a player mutiny.  That’s because he became utterly irrelevant!  One look at the sideline would tell you, offensive players listened to Martz, defensive players listened to Singletary.  Mike Nolan became like distant, reverberating static.  They heard a noise, but ultimately it meant nothing.  Somebody somewhere said Frank Gore gave Mike Nolan a vote of confidence, or absolution for the way things are or something like that.  Nice, but ultimately way too little, and way too late.

The difference between Mike Nolan and his players can be summed up thusly:  After last year’s loss to New Orleans, Frank Gore and Joe Staley were quoted praising Alex Smith for playing hurt and showing his leadership.  After the loss to Seattle, however, Smith was all but blamed for his injury, and two anonymous players were supposedly quoted calling Alex Smith cowardly.  Another example:  Jamie Winborn, a promising young player, was released for daring to speak honestly.  Players knew that Mike Nolan would not have their backs when the chips were down.

Mike Singletary is not that man.  He is a breath of fresh, clean air.

Take a deep breath.  It’s real.




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