Mike Singletary broke a month-long media silence this afternoon when he hopped on a conference call to talk about the hiring of Jimmy Raye as offensive coordinator. Raye has agreed to a three-year deal. One word that Singletary used over and over was "leadership," something which made Raye, a 32-year NFL veteran, his choice. He said every other criterion, including scheme, or popularity and past success, was secondary to leadership. Said Singletary: "I think it just came down to that leadership we know we need on that side of the ball. The leadership. The preparation. The vision."
As for his assistant coaches, he said he didn't make them pick the offensive coordinator but he did want them to get a feel for the man they will be working with. "As far as making that decision, that was going to be my decision."
On Scott Linehan, Singletary said there was a "misperception" that he had offered the job to Linehan and Linehan had turned it down. Singletary said he laid out a list of parameters for the job and asked Linehan, 'Can you do these things?' Included in that was a commitment to a hard-nosed, physical offense. Singletary said he respected Linehan's honesty when he told him he could not meet those parameters. (Which is significantly different than what Linehan said when he passed on the job).
That led to a question about whether prospective offensive coordinators felt stifled by Singletary. "I really don't know," Singletary said. "But I think I made it clear in every interview we had that some of the things we did last year (under Mike Martz) I felt very good about."
On whether Mike Johnson, the new QBs coach is a de facto coordinator in waiting: "It would be nice to think that he could do that, but right now he's the quarterbacks coach."
Singletary said that Norv Turner did not recommend Raye to him. Rather, Raye's name was mentioned several times as he began compiling a list of potential coordinators. Raye (who spoke after Singletary) said he first met Singletary when he introduced himself this season when the Jets visited the 49ers.
Singletary said he was not concerned about being with a coordinator for the past month. "The most important thing is that we didn't pick the wrong person." As I wrote yesterday, Raye will be back in Santa Clara Wednesday to begin evaluating the 49ers' offensive personnel. That's important to do before the combine when the staff will start debating which positions need augmenting.
Singletary sidestepped questions about Alex Smith's future with the 49ers, saying they would be decided at a later date. "For right now, I feel very good about Shaun Hill and we'll have to see about Alex Smith, and we'll go from there," he said.
After Singletary hung up, Raye dialed in from Morristown, N.J. Raye seemes like a very calm and measured man, which I guess comes from being an NFL coach for more than three decades. One thing that stood out was when he talked about his first NFL coaching job, for the 49ers in 1977. At that point, the franchise was just being sold to the DeBartolos. The league still had a 14-game season and there were six -- SIX!! -- preseason games.
Asked about the talent he will inherit, Raye admitted he probably knows more about the 49ers defensive players, whom he broke down on film when the Jets played the 49ers this past season. He did mention quarterback Shaun Hill, who had a solid game against the Jets, Vernon Davis, whom he scouted at the combine in 2006, Eric Heitmann, Isaac Bruce and Frank Gore. "I like the runner. I know of him and I know what he's done, Gore."
He also said he hasn't worked with anyone on the 49ers' staff, which is notable given his longevity in the league. He said he knows receivers coach Jerry Sullivan and offensive line coach Chris Foerster and knows running backs coach Tom Rathman from Rathman's playing days. As for bringing in his own assistants, he said that's something he and Singletary will discuss. "... the staff is pretty much set the way it is. Those will be ongoing talks when I get back to San Francisco."
Asked about his vision for offense, he refuted the notion that he and Singletary are obsessed with the run. "I think this is the new millenium -- 2009," Raye said. "I don't think we can play one-dimensional. Never have." Raye pointed to the success he had in the passing game in Kansas City, especially using play action to throw to Tony Gonzalez, Andre Rison and Derrick Alexander.
Asked whether his digit-based system is similar at all to Martz's digit-based system, Raye said: "I don't know Mike Martz's system. Everyone takes part of what they are exposed to and then expands it wherever they go."
Asked about his specific role while offensive coordinator in Oakland from 2004-05, Raye said Norv Turner handled the lion's share of the play calling but from time to time would call upon Raye to call the plays. Therefore, Raye said he prepared during the week as if he was handling the play calls.
-- Matt Barrows