Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's time for 49ers to get rid of "interim" from Singletary's coaching title

Well, I’ve seen enough evidence to make a call.

It’s time for the 49ers to strip the interim tag from Mike Singletary’s title, give him a long-term contract and make him their official coach.

Am I right or am I right? Surely John, Jed and Denise-DeBartolo York, the 49ers’ deciders, are having similar thoughts after watching the 49ers beat the Jets 24-14 on Sunday at Candlestick Park.

Under Singletary, the 49ers are 3-3 after back-to-back wins over the Bills and Jets. They could easily be 4-2 if not for a meltdown late in the fourth quarter of a loss to Arizona when offensive coordinator Mike Martz had a brain-lock or two.

It’s not just the record that speaks so loudly in Singletary’s favor. It’s the transformation this team has made in just seven short weeks since he replaced the fired Mike Nolan. They say that a team takes on the personality of its coach. In this case, the 49ers have become intense, passionate and physical, mirroring the traits of their coach, a Hall of Fame linebacker and former Chicago Bear, who learned his craft under Buddy Ryan and “Iron” Mike Ditka.

“I’m not the guy to make those decisions, but obviously we all love coach Sing,” 49ers running back and special teams ace Michael Robinson said. “For some odd reason, he has a way of motivating you, especially on game day. You just want to go out there and fight to your death for him. Know what I mean?

“Obviously the credibility factor comes in. You know he’s been through it. When he says stuff, I think the guys listen a little bit extra. He’s done a great job. I hope he does get it.”

You’d have to search long and hard to find a 49er who doesn’t feel the same way about Singletary, especially now that their hard work is paying off in wins.

“He brings so much to the table, from a former player to a Hall of Fame player, to a guy who’s been waiting for this position for so long,” 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said. “I’ve always believed just keep grinding, keep grinding, keep grinding until the opportunity comes, and when it comes, seize it. That’s how he’s been with the head coaching job. I’m excited for him. I know our team respects him a lot. … He coaches with intensity and passion.

“I want him to stay. I want him to be our coach. I’m excited. Who knows what’s going to happen. All I know is we’re going to continue to play for ourselves, the organization and for him.”

Are you listening John, Jed and Denise? If Singletary is good enough for your rising defensive super star, he should be good enough for you. Make the move now. Don’t make Singletary go through some long, drawn-out performance review after the season before you decide his fate. There’s no need for that type of drama.

I know some 49ers fans are pining for Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren and see him as the team’s savior, a link to its glorious past. But Holmgren has promised his family that he’s going to take at least one year off from the NFL. Even if Holmgren changes his mind, I don’t think he has the energy and passion to tackle the 49ers job at this stage of his career.

Singletary is the right man for the job. He’s already made a huge impact on the team

“I think Mike’s done a great job,” Jets coach Eric Mangini said. “They play hard, they play tough. We’ve seen it every single game they’ve played the same way, and you have to be able to match that.”

How about that? An opposing coach talking about matching the 49ers’ intensity and toughness.

Singletary coaches as fearlessly as his players have been playing. The 49ers opened Sunday’s game with an onsides kick and went for it twice on fourth-and-1. No, they didn’t recover that kick. But they made the first fourth-and-short and converted the second when Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins jumped offsides.

Singletary said he was just sending a message with the game-opening gamble.

“We knew we wanted to set the tone from the very beginning of the game and just let them know, let our players know – because they didn’t know we were going to do an onsides kick, our players,” Singletary said. “So we just let the jets know and let our guys feel that, ‘Hey, you know what? We’re going all-out. This is our game. We’re approaching it that way and you’ll see it from the very beginning.’ ”

That aggressive approach is just part of the 49ers’ emerging personality under Singletary.

“When you take the few games that we’ve played, I think one thing that jumps out right away is that we play hard,” Singletary said. “The next thing that jumps out is we play fast. Then the other thing that jumps out is we play pretty physically. We’re still not playing as smart as I would like for us to be. But we’re getting there.”

Hey, three out of four ain’t bad.

After the game, Singletary did a good job of dodging questions about his coaching fate with the 49ers. Finally, a questioner asked him point-blank, “You do want this job next year?”

“I’ll say it again,” Singletary said. “Yes, I want the job. I’m going to work as hard as I can, as honestly as I can, and when it’s all said and done, whatever happens, happens. I’m not trying to impress anybody. I’m not trying to prove anything. I’m just being me. So hopefully when it’s all said and done, that’s enough.”

Singletary has already proved he deserves to keep the 49ers job. It’s time to get rid of that interim tag.

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