ADAMS: Firing Mike Singletary is not the answer

Scott Adams

I like Mike Singletary. You like Mike Singletary, or at least
used to. And Jed York? He likes Mike Singletary, too, evidently a
lot. York likes him so much, he has made no indication that
Singletary will not finish the season as coach of the San Francisco
49ers, York’s favorite team since childhood. The one that’s 3-7 and
was shutout at home Sunday for the first time since York was, well,
he wasn’t born yet.
I like Mike Singletary. You like Mike Singletary, or at least used to. And Jed York? He likes Mike Singletary, too, evidently a lot.

York likes him so much, he has made no indication that Singletary will not finish the season as coach of the San Francisco 49ers, York’s favorite team since childhood. The one that’s 3-7 and was shutout at home Sunday for the first time since York was, well, he wasn’t born yet.

I would like to think York’s decision to stick with Singletary for now is not based on loyalty. I would like to think he realizes firing his coach is not the end-all solution to his franchise’s woes.

Singletary is a defensive-minded guy, and the 49ers are actually playing well defensively this year; they are ranked 13th in yards allowed per game and 16th in scoring. That would translate into at least a middle-of-the-road record (5-5, tied for first in the division) if San Francisco had an offense that scored three touchdowns a game — the 49ers average 16 — or scored at all.

I would like to think York will consider those numbers when he sits down this offseason and decides who is most at fault for his team’s latest debacle of a season; the eighth straight if you’re scoring at home.

Singletary will no doubt point the finger at himself. “It always starts with the head coach, always,” he said after Sunday’s 21-0 loss to Tampa Bay. But he should not be the one to take the fall. This one’s on the 49ers’ management, or lack thereof when it comes to offense.

I find it more ironic than ever now when I hear a San Francisco player, coach or front-office member talk about the glory years of the franchise, and how they’d like to bring back a winning tradition. From 1980 to the mid-’90s and even early 2000s, the 49ers reigned as one of the league’s most dominant teams because of their offensive creativity, their innovative passing attacks that challenged the minds of opposing defenses. Sunday, the NFL’s 31st-ranked rushing defense derailed San Francisco.

The 49ers were once crisp offensively because they could build on the stability from using the same system for years. In late September, they named their sixth offensive coordinator in five years.

What can the 49ers do? Their quarterback was Alex Smith’s backup three weeks ago. Sunday, their offensive line allowed six sacks; their All-Pro running back averaged 1.9 yards per carry; their most creative play was a play-action rollout pass and subsequent scramble for 4 yards. This from an offense that features Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree.

“Talent level, I’m not mistaken about that,” Singletary said. ” … Sometimes when you have inconsistency at the quarterback position, that can cause you to have some issues.”

The 49ers’ lesser-talented defense, meanwhile, turned in another adequate performance, holding the 7-3 Buccaneers to 21 points. That should be enough to beat any team, again, if your offense functions like an NFL offense should.

Singletary does not run the offense. That job rests with Mike Johnson, whom you almost can’t blame because he was hired to coach quarterbacks. And what a fine assortment he has.

After this season, York needs to think about the renaissance he envisioned when he became president/team owner in 2008 and what made the 49ers so successful decades ago. It wasn’t just the Hall of Fame players, it was the inspiring men who coached them; Bill Walsh, Mike Shanahan, Mike Holmgren, guys who brought out the best effort from their players. Singletary has done the same.

The 49ers need an offensive coordinator they can build around for years to come, a quarterback and offensive line that can manage it and a defense that can get the job done with some regularity — kind of like the one run by Mike Singletary and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.

Right now, that’s the only thing working for San Francisco.

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