The buzz began at about 2 pm on the afternoon of Oct. 20. ESPN.com posted a rumor that the 49ers were firing head coach Mike Nolan and he would be replaced by assistant coach and defensive lineman coach Mike Singletary after Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks. Fans began to rejoice at the possibility as many of had been waiting for this moment for a long time. About 4 hours later, that rumor became reality when the 49ers announced Nolan was fired and Singletary would be taking over.
Today in the San Francisco Chronicle, Sports Columnist Ray Ratto said the decision was a good one but that it was bad timing. He said that it was “just another knee-jerk reaction by the Yorks” and that they should have waited till after the Seattle game so that Singletary would have the bye week to prepare. I completely disagree with this. Singletary has been with the 49ers for as long as Nolan has, having come over with him from the Baltimore Ravens. He knows the players, he knows the management and he knows how things work. In addition, the York’s made this decision in response to the rumor getting out, rather than having it linger over the team for weeks the way it did with Lane Kiffin and the Raiders causing major distractions and probably prohibiting Kiffin from completely doing his job.
While I am not a big fan of the Yorks considering I am a dynasty child of the 80’s who grew up watching the 49ers dominate, I would not describe this decision as “knee-jerk” whatsoever. If anything, this decision was long overdue. With a coaching record of 18-37 in his three and a half years in San Francisco, Nolan has been anything but impressive. Ratto does say that this decision should have come back in January when Nolan had his general manager duties taken away from him, which he is correct about. But hey, better late than never, right?
I am excited for Singletary as head coach of the 49ers. I advocated for this to happen, albeit not to anyone of importance, last year. While Singletary has no head coaching experience, he is a skilled former player, a great defensive and assistant coach and, as many have said “evokes passion from the players.” This is so desperately needed in San Francisco right now. Granted, we may not see a drastic difference in the next week, or even the rest of the season, but it is a start. There is a lot of work to be done. The 49ers offensive line is ridiculous. I thought the look of panic that came across Alex Smith’s face was a sign of immaturity and inexperience, but I see that same look on the face of J.T. O’Sullivan and it is because he knows, as did Smith, that he is not protected. The fact that he has survived a major injury so far is amazing. I definitely don’t think O’Sullivan is the quarterback we have been looking for, but until the O-Line gets it together or gets stronger players, no one will succeed at this position in San Francisco. The rest of the team has made silly and costly errors such as too many penalties and not catching balls. The 49ers also have an uncanny ability to consistently blow it in the 4th quarter. Having witnessed this first hand against the Eagles a few weeks ago, it is absolutely infuriating for fans.
Mike Singletary may not be able to answer all of the problems that S.F. faces, but he is a big step in the right direction.
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