Amidst all the praise being heaped upon Harbaugh as of late, there has been a minor discussion about the style of play he has brought to the team. As far as I know, Eric Davis was the first to suggest in public that Harbaugh was really just doing the things Singletary had always wanted to to do but had the lacked the competence to implement. It never really seemed to gain much traction as a discussion topic so I kind of forgot about it.
Sando over on ESPN brought up an old article on the Favre game when talking about the NFC West's failures with 10 am starts that had some very compelling material I don't think Sando noticed. Specifically, Singletary's five-point "formula for success", which I list below.
1. Total ball security.
3. Dominate the trenches.
4. Create great field position.
Seem familiar to anyone? Because those strike me as five principles of Harbaugh's team that has helped them have so much early success (and I'd throw in a competent offense too).
Their turnover ratio has been a huge reason for the turnaround, as they post the best differential in the league. They're practicing total ball security on offense to the point Alex has a 7-1 TD/Int ratio while also being aggressive in forcing opposing teams into turnovers.
Execution is obvious. The Niners themselves credited the huge turnaround in Philly not on the playbook being opened up or some impassioned speech by Harbaugh at half time. They said that the coaches, during half, simply pointed out where the players weren't executing properly, told them how to clean it up, and voila. Since that half, six quarters of beautifully executed football that has seen the team, what, outscore their opponents 60+ points to 6? Execution baby. It's working.
The 49ers front seven has already begun to catch the eyes of online pundits and I've seen, at the very least, Scouts.Inc say they possess an elite group there. They dominate the trenches like few other teams can. On the O-Line, it was an absolute mess early in the season. But they've shown steady progress and they've been playing well since the Eagles comeback. Any coincidence that since the O-Line has begun winning their battles, the run game and offense have suddenly picked up?
Not much needs to be said about creating field position. The name Andy Lee suffices.
And finally, the ability to finish. Something that routinely haunted the team and its fans under Sing. The Bengals game was, I thought, a turning point in this case after the loss to the 'Boys which looked so similar to the ugly losses under Sing. After finally scoring a big 4th quarter TD on the road, the team held on to win. They've been able to finish the two games since. The team is learning how to win. The players have said as much, that the attitude has changed from "Oh no, here we go again" to "Let's go out there and take this".
So, what I believe we're seeing is Singletary's formula for success finally being realized and the team is reaping the rewards. Except that it took an entire coaching staff change to bring it about. Perhaps Mike can take some comfort in knowing that in some small way he did help to put this team on the right path, even if he was the wrong guy to guide them on it.