Mike Singletary Serves Notice In Loss

O'Dell Isaac IICorrespondent IOctober 26, 2008


Some of you, sadly, are too young to remember Mike Singletary as the Hall of Fame player he was. He was a perennial All-Pro linebacker with a quiet intensity.

The quarterback of the Chicago Bears' famed "46" defense, Singletary was a soft-spoken individual. Yet, he was one of the fiercest players in the game. His eyes would open wide as saucers just before he put the thump on you.

The newly-minted interim coach of the San Francisco 49ers put the thump on a couple of his offensive players during yesterday's 34-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

First, he benched quarterback, and turnover machine, J.T. O'Sullivan in the second quarter. This move was long overdue, as O'Sullivan is responsible for nearly 90 percent of the team's giveaways this season.

However, the move that really got tongues wagging came in the fourth quarter, when Singletary sent tight end Vernon Davis to the locker room after an unnecessary roughness penalty.

Davis headed to the locker room, only to be called back. Why? Because he had forgotten his helmet.

It served notice that Mike "The Coach" Singletary has not mellowed since his days as Mike "The Player" Singletary.

In a postgame press conference, he summed up his coaching philosophy thusly: "I want winners. I want people who want to win."

Now mind you, Singletary is auditioning for a job. It appears he wants the "interim" tag taken off so he can become the San Francisco head coach; if he can't coach there, he wouldn't mind catching on somewhere else. (He was a candidate for the head coaching job in Atlanta recently).

So, taking the former No. 6 overall draft pick and sending him to the showers is a good way to open some eyes around the league. He has almost certainly caught the eyes of some NFL front-office people who would like to inject a little fire into their own locker rooms.

But, I don't think getting the attention of others is why Singletary did what he did. He's always been intense. He's always been intolerant of laissez-faire players. And I think part of his intent was—to paraphrase "Nuke" LaLoosh—to announce his presence with authority. Whether he intended to or not, he certainly did that.

There's every chance in the world that Singletary's actions will go for naught. The 49ers are owned by Denise DeBartolo York and her husband John. They make up the worst ownership tandem in the NFL and prove that two heads are not always better than one (Eddie DeBartolo, Denise's brother, was the former owner).

Many of the team's problems are organizational, and cannot be changed by a coach trying to put a little life into his players.

But you can bet that, right now, several Niners are thinking to themselves "Wow! I'd better shape up!"

Meanwhile, for any other 49ers with a lackadaisical attitude, a word of advice: If you see Mike Singletary come at you with his eyes bulging wide, tuck in and brace for impact.