49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

January 17, 2008
Singletary's phone isn't ringing ... yet

Just got off the phone with agent Bob LaMonte, who represents Mike Singletary. Singletary, as we’re all aware, has yet to interview for a head coach opening this offseason after getting interviews in each of the last two years. LaMonte, however, thought Singletary might start seeing some interest from Atlanta and Baltimore now that their No. 1 target, Dallas offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, is sticking with the Cowboys.

That Singletary has yet to get a nibble is surprising. I admit I haven’t been covering the league for very long but I’ve become convinced that the single most important attribute a head coach must have is communication skills – with his staff, with his players, with the owners, with the media, etc. Great coaches (Walsh, Parcells, Gibbs) have it; the ones that flame out (Petrino, Saban) do not. Communication and motivation are Singletary’s forte. Players will run through cement walls for the guy and Singletary, filling in for Mike Nolan this past season, has shown a knack for dealing with the media.

The odd part is that Singletary is more prepared for the job now than he was last season when he got a very close look from the Falcons. This year, LaMonte said, Singletary would go into the interview with more concrete answers and plans, including a list of assistants he would have on his staff (Which begs the question: How many 49ers assistants would he take with him?).

Why hasn’t Singletary gotten more attention? First, teams looking for new head coaches tend to look at assistants from, you know, successful teams. That’s why Garrett and former Cowboys assistant Tony Sparano have been so popular this offseason. More and more, teams are looking at offensive-minded coaches. Last year, for example, five of the seven new head coaches had their expertise on the offensive side of the ball. Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin and Dallas’ Wade Phillips were the exceptions.

Singletary also might be hurt by the fact that he hasn’t coached in the NFL for very long (five years) and never has been a coordinator. Xs and Os, however, should belong in the coordinator’s domain. And all the fancy schemes in the world won’t amount to much if the head coach can’t communicate with his players. Just ask the Falcons.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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