Week One of his first full season as head coach of the 49ers has not slowed the growth of the legend of Mike Singletary. When he was handed the job on an interim basis to replace the embattled Mike Nolan, there was doubt in many corners as to whether he was ready for the job.
Sure he had great instincts as a player. But great players don’t always turn out to be great coaches — would Singletary have the instincts to coach at the highest level? On a weekend in which some big-time coaches proved that their instincts were suspect, Singletary came through looking pretty good against the Cardinals.
On the face of it, Singletary’s job on Sunday was pretty daunting: Try and beat the defending NFC champions, in their place, with Shaun Hill at quarterback, while playing as three-to-six-point underdogs and with your No. 1 draft pick relaxing in a hot tub at an undisclosed location. The results were ugly to be sure, but when it was over San Francisco and Singletary were 1-0, and my fantasy team, with Kurt Warner at QB, was reeling as usual.
As if to offset the fact that Warner knows Jesus well enough to draw him from memory, Singletary rocked the cross pendant on Sunday. And just to be sure that Christ was paying attention to the play clock, Singletary kept tabs himself with a stopwatch. Be sure to check out Letterman’s next Singletary segment for the new coaching bling.
Of course the Singletary above is fake — an actor prone to nonsensical football hyperbole such as “I’m not a doctor!” The actual Singletary is much more insane: A man who would drop his trousers in the locker room at halftime in order to illustrate how he felt about his team’s play. A man who would call a time out for no other reason than to allow his defense to “clear their heads.”
Gwenn Knapp of the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE has those details:
He saw a tired, frustrated defense on the field. He saw the Cardinals gaining first downs that would have eluded them earlier in the day. So in his first game as a full-time head coach, Singletary violated a major rule.
“Sometimes if you save your timeouts until the end of the game, you don’t need them,” he said. “… I felt like this was the time: Give them a break and let them clear their heads. I told them: Just hold (the Cardinals) to three and keep us in this football game.”
Other coaches will do the same thing, typically in a panic. When Singletary gathered the defense around him, TV cameras showed a calm, determined face, without a hint of anxiety. At one point, he pointed backward toward the sideline with his thumb, like a hitchhiker in reverse.
“I really don’t remember what I was saying,” he said later. “Maybe: ‘Let’s get out of here.’ “
That is either eight kinds of crazy or freaking inspired. Three conclusions here: The 49ers under Singletary just might make the playoffs. In any event, their defense will be fun to watch. And I still love the billboards that have sprung up all over the Bay Area.
If there’s one thing the 49ers have always been pretty good at, it’s marketing. Now, for the first time since Steve Young & Co., the actual football is pretty fun to watch as well.