Jimmy Raye is gone. Will that save Mike Singletary’s job? It shouldn’t.
This is all on Singletary. As soon as he officially became coach, he fired offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who has a brilliant offensive mind.
The move made no sense. NFL teams are run mostly by coordinators. Singletary had never been a coordinator and was known to be weak on the X’s and O’s. He needed more help than the normal coach. But team president Jed York told me that Singletary felt that it would be a distraction to keep Martz, who obviously wanted another shot at a head coaching job. But the only way he could get that was to do a great job as the Niners’ offensive coordinator, which would have helped Singletary.
Around the league, other coaches read that as “impossible to work for.” As Singletary approached logical candidates, they found reasons not to be interested. Raye was the last man standing, a coach who had bounced around the league because he was mediocre.
He hasn’t even been that good with the 49ers. It all came to an embarrassing climax against the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday. On one sideline were the coordinators who had worked with Bill Belichick when the Patriots were winning Super Bowls — and a coach (Todd Haley) who had been a brilliant offensive coordinator before he was promoted. On the other, you had a decent defensive coordinator, but an inadequate offensive coordinator and a head coach who doesn’t have a clue. The result: A disastrous loss which sent the 49ers spinning to a 0-3 start.
I pushed for Singletary to be named coach, replacing the ineffectual Mike Nolan, because I felt his manner would inspire the players. But they’ve clearly tuned him out. He reportedly was quite emotional at halftime in Kansas City, but when your players realize you don’t know what you’re talking about, they don’t listen.
Singletary’s whole vision of what it takes to succeed in the NFL is clouded. He talks about establishing the running game, which apparently means running Frank Gore up the middle with no deception.
A running game is important, but passing has been the key since Army coach Red Blaik called the NFL “basketball in cleats” in the ’50s.
When you think of the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, do you think of their running backs or quarterback Drew Brees? The key for the great New England Patriots teams was the passing of Tom Brady, not the running game.
Or, think about the five 49ers championships. They had some good runners, most notably Roger Craig, but they won primarily on the arms of Joe Montana and Steve Young. The first Super Bowl-winning 49ers team didn’t even have a runner who gained 600 yards for the season — but it had Montana throwing to Dwight Clark and the underrated Freddie Solomon.
The 49ers should be building around Alex Smith, but on Sunday, they couldn’t find a way for him to go deep. It was dink-and-dunk — and punt.
This season is probably already lost, but after that, the Niners need to make sweeping changes, starting at the top. Get a real coach, not a motivational speaker.