Following Sunday's game, Mike Singletary lamented that his team didn't score in the second half, committed turnovers and penalties and allowed the Rams 13 points. The reality is that the second half couldn't have worked out any better for the interim head coach. Because while you never want your players thinking they stink, you really don't want them thinking they are better than they are. A sloppy second half allows Singletary to keep his team grounded, humble and hungry as they prepare to play a good team on the road.
After all, it was only two months ago that the 49ers, their fans and the media had a similar feeling of elation. Remember the convincing 31-13 win earlier this year over the Lions? J.T. O'Sullivan was awesome, throwing two touchdowns and finishing with a stellar 123.3 passer rating. Mike Martz not only was the answer at offensive coordinator, there were whispers - loud ones - that he could replace Mike Nolan as head coach at season's end. In one fell swoop, the 49ers would solve three of their biggest problems: 1. Martz would provide championship-level leadership; 2. He'd finally give the 49ers continuity on offense 3. And his hand-picked quarterback, O'Sullivan, would be the passer the 49ers searching for since Jeff Garcia left town. It all seems absurd now, but it made perfect sense on Sept. 22.
Today - one day after the 49ers' most convincing win in five years - the future also seems obvious. Singletary should be the head coach. He's honest and brutally candid. The players love him. He's a winner. And Shaun Hill should be the quarterback. After all, he had a perfect passer rating in the first half and keeps showing an uncanny knack of moving the offense. He even allowed Eric Heitmann to spike the ball after a touchdown. (OK, that was a pretty cool move.)
The 49ers followed that home win against Detroit with a 31-17 road loss to New Orleans, the first of six straight losses that cost Nolan his job, O'Sullivan his starting status and Martz his standing as the offensive savior of the organization. Next up for the 49ers is Dallas, a team that just won a gritty game against a division opponent and one that will be as healthy as it's been in two months. Will lightning strike twice? Singletary, at least, is doing his best to insure that it won't.
-- Chilo Rachal played in his second-straight game and cornerback Reggie Smith, the team's third-round pick, saw action at the very end of the contest. He even was credited with a tackle, his first official defensive stat. That means the only rookies who haven't played this year are fourth rounder Cody Wallace, who has been inactive in every game, and seventh rounder Larry Grant, who is on the practice squad.
-- Newcomer Sean Ryan, a tight end, lined up as a fullback on the goal line yesterday. He was Frank Gore's lead blocker on Gore's 1-yard TD run in the second quarter, although the touchdown can be attributed 97 percent to Gore's running ability and 3 percent to the blocking on that particular play.
-- Sure, the Rams stink now. But 49ers fans have to be a bit concerned by how good rookie receiver Donnie Avery looked. Avery led all receivers with nine catches for 93 yards and couldn't draw a P.I. call despite LOTS of downfield contact from Walt Harris. Tough luck, rook. ... Still, it seems as if the Rams, who had one of the best WR tandems in history in Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, might have another on their hands.
-- Matt Barrows