Winning, and The Turnover Battle under Singletary

I take the following axioms to be self-evidently true:

1) Winning the turnover battle correlates to winning football games.

2) Good teams win the turnover battle.

3) Very good teams can lose the turnover battle and still win football games.

In the 35 games the Niners have played under Mike Singletary, the Niners have performed poorly (won fewer games than they should've) in games in which they have a positive takeaway/giveaway ratio and performed very poorly in games that in which they have had a negative takeaway/giveaway ratio.  My curiosity about this issue was peaked when Football Outsiders came out and predicted that the Niners would win only 5 games because their streak (from 2009) of high takeaway games would not continue. 

I ran the numbers over the past 35 games (after the jump), and the quick hit summary looks like this:

1) When the Niners have a takeaway/giveaway ratio of +2 or better, their record is 7-2

2) When the Niners are +1, their record is 2-0

3) When neither team gets a turnover advantage, their record is 4-3

4) When the Niners are -1, their record is 2-7

5) When the Niners have a takeaway giveaway ratio of -2 or worse, their record is 1-7


+2 turnover ratio games


win Week 4: Rams 0, 49ers 35: 49ers +3

loss Week 8: 49ers 14, Colts 18: 49ers +2

win Week 10: Bears 6, 49ers 10: 49ers +4

win Week 12: Jags 3, 49ers 20: 49ers +2

win Week 14: Cardinals 9, 49ers 24: 49ers +5

win Week 16: Lions 6, 49ers 20: 49ers +5


win Week 6: Raiders 9, 49ers 17: 49ers +2

loss Week 7: 49ers 20, Panthers 23: 49ers +2

win Week 8: Broncos 16, 49ers 24: 49ers +2



+1 turnover ratio games


win Week 14: Jets 14, 49ers 24: 49ers +1


win Week 2: Seahawks 10, 49ers 23: 49ers +1



0 turnover ratio games


win Week 13: Bills 3, 49ers 10: 0

loss Week 15: 49ers 9, Dolphins 14: 0

win Week 17: Redskins 24, 49ers 27: 0


loss Week 3: 49ers 24, Vikings 27: 0

win Week 17: Rams 6, 49ers 28: 0


loss Week 3: 49ers 10, Chiefs 31: 0

win Week 10: Rams 20, 49ers 23: 0



-1 turnover ratio games


win Week 11: Rams 16, 49ers 35: 49ers -1

loss Week 12: 49ers 22, Cowboys 35: 49ers -1

loss Week 13: 49ers 17, Seahawks 20: 49ers -1


win Week 1: Cardinals 16, 49ers 20: 49ers -1

loss Week 5: 49ers 10, Falcons 45: 49ers -1

loss Week 7: 49ers 21, Texans 24: 49ers -1

loss Week 11: 49ers 24, Packers 30: 49ers -1


loss Week 1: 49ers 6, Seahawks 31: 49ers -1

loss Week 4: 49ers 14, Falcons 16: 49ers -1



-2 turnover ratio games


loss Week 8: 49ers 13, Seahawks 34: 49ers -2

loss Week 10: 49ers 24, Cardinals 29: 49ers -3

win Week 16: Rams 16, 49ers 17: 49ers -3


loss Week 9: 49ers 27, Titans 34: 49ers -4

loss Week 15: 49ers 13, Eagles 27: 49ers -2


loss Week 2: 49ers 22, Saints 25: 49ers -4

loss Week 5: 49ers 24, Eagles 27: 49ers -4

loss Week 11: 49ers 0, Buccaneers 23: 49ers -2



4 things should be noticed in this summary:

1) the Niners have gotten more +2 turnover games in seasons 2009 and 2010 under Singletary than they did in 2008.

2) the Niners have performed more poorly in close turnover ratio (-1, 0, or +1 turnover ratio) games in 2009 and 2010 than they did in 2008 (2008:4-2, 2009: 2-5, 2010:1-3)

3) the Niners have played 11 games with a positive turnover ratio, 7 with a flat ratio (no advantage/disadvantage), and 17 with a negative turnover ratio.

4) The Niners have won only 3 of the 17 negative turnover ratio games, and have lost 2 of their 11 positive ratio games.


Mike Singletary's football conservative football philosophy ironically makes the team less likely to win games when they're behind or have had offensive turnovers, and more likely to lose them when they're ahead or have gotten takeaways.  Too often it seems like Singletary treats a turnover as 'just another stop by the defense' and not an opportunity to go for the knockout blow.  This team isn't good enough to "play close and win at the end": they need to build leads early and then constantly try to expand them.  The game against the Buccaneers is a classic example of a failure to adapt tactically to the look that the defense is giving you.  The Bucs came out to stuff the run game, and the short range passing game and instead of adapting and attacking down the field, the Niners stuck with the same offensive philosophy -- which, ostensibly was designed to limit turnovers -- but which failed to make the splash plays that a) could have countered the turnovers that the Niners had committed and b) would have made the defense adjust.

(In the games played (by all NFL teams) over the last three weeks, when teams have a +2 takeaway/giveaway ratio, they have won 17 of 21 games.  Those other 4 games--in which the teams that are -2 or worse still end up winning are what interest me).

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.

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