Reading Between the Lines: Singletary

Mike Singletary isn’t one to mince words. He speaks his mind and, because of that, we can read between the lines when he talks about his employment in the near future. Mike Nolan had the opposite approach, spewing numerous empty statements consisting of political vagaries. Because Singletary is a straight shooter, we can take what he says and read between the lines with more assurance. The NFL has the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for their head coaching position. This rule also forbids teams from promoting interim head coaches during the season, even if the interim coach is a minority. After the season, the 49ers will have a window of possibly two weeks to exclusively negotiate with Singletary. I think Singletary will be the head coach of the 49ers for the next few years barring a couple highly unlikely scenarios.
First, let’s look at what Singletary said this week. The media had all but assumed that Singletary would have locked up the head coaching position with a win last week in Miami. Although the team didn’t come away with a win, the team played well without Frank Gore, and the most talked about subject at Singletary’s press conference was the interim coach’s future. After 3+ years of Nolan-ese, the media was skeptical of Singletary because he was thought to be too much like his predecessor. Instead, Singletary offers a refreshing honesty compared to the robotic calculations provided by Nolan.

"OK, I’m going to say this one more time. And I’m sure I’ll say it again. I am not trying to impress the Yorks. When I’m coaching, I’m not thinking about the Yorks. I’m not thinking that the Yorks are looking at me and hoping, ‘Well, I hope they saw that!’ I don’t really care about that."

This speaks to Singletary’s confidence. He knows the players are behind him. He knows there will be an opportunity next year for him, and if the 49ers don’t step up, someone else will. When asked if he would go through an interview process among multiple candidates after the season with San Francisco Singletary was hesitant to answer the question but he eventually accepted the reality that an interview process may be required to obtain the job.

“Q: If there is an interview process—with multiple candidates—would you participate?
SINGLETARY: Uh, I don’t know. I don’t know. That’s a very good question. I don’t know. I can’t give you an answer to that question right now.
Q: Why wouldn’t you go through an interview process?
SINGLETARY: Umm, OK. Yes. I will go through an interview process.
Q: You’re a competitive guy…
SINGLETARY: I am a competitive guy, OK? The competition, when you talk about competitive, I’m competitive in anything I do. But I’ll just say this: If there’s an interview, I’d probably go through the interview process.”

Singletary is posturing now. His stock is high and he’s doing what he can to increase his value come contract time. I listened to him on KNBR Tuesday morning and Singletary again answered questions about his future. When speaking about the spirit of the team, Singletary said the players are “excited to be part of something special, and they feel it on the horizon.” Singletary goes on to say he “doesn’t get involved with thinking about that” when talking about permanent job status. He says he has an agent and he lets him take care of it.

“I told my agent…I hired you to do your job, and you go ahead and do what you need to do. He has had some conversations…[and] at the appropriate time he can buzz me in on everything that’s happening when I need to know.”

That tells me, Singletary has gone over his requirements with his agent and his agent has talked to ownership about Singletary’s necessities and a deal will be done within that two week window.

There are a couple of outs that could change this direction, but both would require big investments from ownership. One is to check on the price and availability of Bill Cowher. It’s delicate because you don’t want to spurn Singletary or his agent by putting feelers out just to see about Cowher. The team could wind up with neither. The other out would be to bring in Scott Pioli from New England as team president. That would be a major shake up. He’d be expensive and want control over a lot of particulars including GM and head coach. The best option for the 49ers seems to be Singletary because he’ll be relatively cheap as a first time head coach, the players and coaches respond to him and the fans like him. Singletary has positioned himself to be the next 49ers head coach the old fashioned way, on the field, with results. I haven’t seen, read or heard anything from 49ers brass to indicate that Mike Singletary won’t be patrolling the sidelines at Candlestick next season as head coach.

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