Message to Mike Singletary: Keep your pants on
Mike Singletary had one heck of an audition Sunday in San Francisco. So captivating, in fact, that it's sure to land him a job down the road...
Seattle Times NFL reporter
Mike Singletary had one heck of an audition Sunday in San Francisco. So captivating, in fact, that it's sure to land him a job down the road.
That job will be in a Coors Light commercial, however. He has that act down pat.
It's the part about being an NFL head coach that could use some work. It didn't even take a whole game to reveal his shortcomings. He reportedly dropped his pants at halftime when addressing his team to make a point that his team was getting its tail kicked. ...
In the second half, Singletary sent one of his most talented players to the locker room after a personal-foul penalty followed by what appeared to be a nonchalant walk off the field. That was fine, but then came a postgame address that began with an apology over how his team played and continued to draw a line in the sand that he would rather play with 10 players than have a guy less than 100 percent committed.
"Cannot win with them," he said. "Cannot coach with them. Cannot do it."
See, it's a ready-made commercial. The kind that appeals to Joe Six-Pack sitting at home who loves to see a coach give his team a good blistering. And the 49ers are certainly bad enough to make someone yell. They haven't made the playoffs for six seasons and counting, they've just fired a coach for the third time since 2002 and the whole thing may need to be rebuilt.
But here's what that team didn't need: A coach enlarging his own stature by belittling the players he's coaching. And that's what Singletary did. He showed there was a new boss in town, only the new boss has been on the staff since 2005, and he's hip-deep in responsibility for this mess just like they are.
His performance made for great theater, Singletary up at the podium and so mad he had to cut himself off and tell reporters he needed to stop talking. It was an old-school diatribe for the YouTube generation.
Singletary's former coach, Mike Ditka, said he was proud of the speech, and 49ers fans who haven't cheered a playoff team since 2002 surely thought it was about time someone started screaming. It seems that just about everybody loved it. Everybody except the most important people. That would be the guys he coached that Sunday afternoon.
A coach's primary job is to make his players better. Pulling down your pants in front of the team and making an example of one player in full view of everyone is more likely to make the players tune out the coach than make those players better.
Now, this is football and there are things said and done in the locker room that would be grounds for a lawsuit in other professions. The NFL is a different world, and one of the only businesses where you'd find an upstanding conscientious man in his mid-30s — someone like Chris Gray — instructed to run wind sprints after practice as a sort of corporal punishment because the team wasn't working hard enough for the coach's taste.
But even in a football locker room there are lines. Cross them and you risk losing the team. Private excoriation is one thing, public humiliation another, whether it's in front of the team or in the public eye.
And the truth is, more than just effort is missing from this 49ers team. A whole lot more. Or did you fail to notice that the quarterback that started the season should have been nicknamed J.T. O'Sackedagain or J.T. O'Turnover, take your pick?
And if you are going to go DEFCON 1 on the men you coach, it's best not to be firing shots from inside a glass house.
Because here's one thing Singletary neglected to mention in his tirade against the awfulness of Sunday's performance: His second-quarter decision to go for it on fourth down in the final minute of the second quarter.
San Francisco was at Seattle's 29-yard line, trailing 13-3 and facing fourth-and-four. Given the Seahawks' difficulty scoring and the 49ers' propensity for committing turnovers, San Francisco should have kicked the field goal and gone into halftime one possession away from tying the game.
Instead, the 49ers went for it, J.T. O'Sullivan's pass was intercepted by Josh Wilson, who returned it for a touchdown, and the Seahawks entered halftime with the 49ers in a headlock.
It was in the locker room at halftime that Singletary unbuckled his pants, reported first by an Arizona radio station and subsequently confirmed by ESPN.com. Truth is, he was exposed as a coach even before he ever unhooked his belt.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
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