"We're starting a season we're not even close to being ready for. We can't beat a single team on our schedule, not one. And, one thing for sure, somebody besides me is gonna have to start providing some leadership around here. Now personally, I don't think you could lead a whore into bed, but you're gonna have to...starting now." - Brian Dennehy as Bobby Knight in "A Season On The Brink"
"I believe this: I would rather play with 10 people and get penalized all the way until we’ve got to do something else. Rather than play with 11 when I know that right now that person is not sold out to be a part of this team. It is more about them than it is about the team. Cannot play with them. Cannot win with them. Cannot coach with them. Can’t do it. I want winners. I want people that want to win." - Mike Singletary as Mike Singletary in "A Mid-Season In The Drink"
John Madden was laughing at George Seifert during a broadcast. I forget which game it was and the team the 49ers were playing against, but the finely tuned Mike Shanahan offensive machine, led by Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young and freshly minted Hall of Fame wideout Jerry Rice, were on a drive. Seifert was the epitome of cool. With those dark shades, stoic presence, and a perfectly cut coiff, he really epitomized Bay Area cool, combined with Silicon Valley precision. He looked more like a CEO of Intel than an NFL coach, compared to say, a way too many Philly Cheese Steak Andy Reid. The reason why Madden was laughing was that the normally stoic Siefert made an awkward move with his knee on the sideline during the drive. It was almost like watching a guy who has no rhythm trying to dance to a beat. It was a forward motion with his right knee, like he was willing a play to happen, to which if I recall correctly didn't, and Madden laughed, "That's the most emotion you will see out of George Seifert".
Fast forward 15 years later, past the emotional "Rah Rah" of Steve Mariucci (the last branch of the Walsh tree, and true end of that era), past the laconic state of the legless and undermined Dennis Erickson, to the autocratic, inexperienced, and unfocused Mike Nolan regime, to now, a "General" leading the young troops to the charge of a hill. Hall of Fame linebacker "Samurai" Mike Singletary, who much like Bobby Knight, has a young team on the "Season On The Brink" whose will is predicated on they willing themselves as Champions towards a common goal as a team. But what does this really mean, how is this truly implemented, will it work, and how are they actually doing it?
Mike Singletary has made an instant connection with the franchise and it's fans. He is fiery, emotional, yet well spoken. He has a clear vision of how to win, and it really shows on where the team has strengths, which is the defense. He has clearly made an impact there, not in strategy, but by emphasizing the strengths. The idea of "Singletary Football" was teased to us by the defense. The "Illustrious" Florida Danny's work leads us to where we have at least a path of logical conclusions to help us understand it. But, the strengths of the defense may really lie upon the expertise of Mike Nolan. Nolan brought in all of the qualities of the defense (Ahmed Brooks IIRC was his reclamation project, amongst others, and let's not forget Walt Harris, who also was a Nolan "reach"). Most of all of the continuity of the 49ers has been on defense. So, just what has Mike Singletary done to improve upon it?
"We should not have to push you to work hard, you should work hard because you want to be a great player" - Bobby Knight.
The main goal of a coach in any position, whether as a position coach to head coach, is to improve talent. Anybody's potential, even your potential in whatever you do, is predicated on your environment. The way you reach a goal with a team is to maximize their involvement and emphasizing their talent. You have to make them leaders. You have to have their trust. They also have to believe in you. In my mind, looking at Singletary's real success, he can flat out coach a player. Nolan, as good as he is a strategist, was a horrid coach. Singletary, as inexperienced as a strategist, has his players play to their strengths. A good to great coach makes a player stronger, and if there is one player that will be a testament to his coaching, that player is Vernon Davis. He, and this was when most people think he had no impact, was "physical with an F" under Mike Martz's offense. He is a devastating blocker, with size and speed. Do you want the next Terrell Owens? The 49ers already have it in Davis, and his potential will be maximized due to Singletary. If Singletary coached basketball, Davis would be an awesome guard. He could be the next Magic Johnson, playing any position required.
"Mental toughness is to physical as four is to one" - Bobby Knight
When I accepted the challenge to contribute to this site, I knew my limitations. It's pretty much all mental, and what it try to do is my primary goal of having a standard for you and Niners Nation. You deserve an effort. Self esteem always comes into play when you strive for a goal. Having said this, the key issue is having somebody to believe in you so that you can maximize your potential.
Now, as much as I have been critical of Singletary this season, the one thing I applaud is how he really builds up the confidence of the Organization as a whole. The 49ers used to a have a clear identity in the past, and it has been diluted due to the same things that a lot of successful franchises when they get they forget their Mission Statement. The idea is always about quality first. How you really build and improve the qualities of the brand is up to who is the real face of it. So, has Mike Singletary improved the 49er brand? Yes, he has by helping stabilize and improve the product by creating a new Mission Statement the 49ers haven't had in years. The challenge is how to define "Singletary Football" within the Organization, with Jed York. Mike Singletary has handled tougher challenges than Marriuci given the talent at quarterback and Front Office. Bill Walsh helped Mooch. Singletary has Scot McCloughan.
"Everybody hears, but few listen"……….Bobby Knight
Your problem Bobby was that you didn't. Mike Singletary might.