As I stated in the Prospector's Guide, there is in fact a game still to be played this Sunday. All the excitement one might have about the change at head coach won't do a whole lot of good if the same problems creep up. I expect some problems to be addressed, but I also expect new problems to arise. It's simply to be expected of a person with no head coaching or coordinating experience.
As Singletary is a defensive guy, this is the side I'd expect more significant changes, if any. The use of the Big Sub came across as too passive a defense to most fans. Of course seeing the defense getting shredded each week certainly made that an easy observation. Singletary was asked about the passive nature:
Watch the next few weeks and see if we continue to be passive. I don’t think so. We’re going to play. We’re not going to play with fear. We’re going to play and we’re going to be bold. Play within our system. We’re not going to become crazy and lose our minds and begin to blitz all the time. We’re going to do whatever it takes to win within the system.
I'm curious to see what this ends up meaning for the defense. Singletary did mention he thought Greg Manusky and the defensive staff had done a good job up to that point. Of course he was a member of that defensive staff, so we have to take that with a bit of a grain of salt.
I do agree though that a chance in the defense does not just mean blitzing every time down the field. Personally, I just want to see some more pressure on occasion and more importantly, I want to see adjustments when something clearly isn't working. Maybe leaving Walt Harris on an island with a receiver isn't the best idea anymore. If so, rather than stubbornly hope he'll improve, bring a safety over the top to back him up. Maybe double-teaming that wide receiver really is a better idea.
Singletary's impact on the offensive side of the ball is significantly harder to judge. When asked about J.T. O'Sullivan's turnover problems, Singletary said:
I think first and foremost, the quarterbacking situation, Mike Martz … Mike and I had a conversation this morning and he’s aware of that. The guy is trying to make plays, he’s trying to win and things like that happen. I just think going forward we just have to be more careful with the ball. It’s as simple as that. But, I would also like to say on the defensive side of the ball, you asked me about the quarterback, I just want to make sure that it’s fair. On the defensive side of the ball, there are some things that we have to do a better job of as well. We have a lead, we got to keep it, but we’ll just continue to move forward and those things that we have to fix and fine tune or whatever, we will do that and we’ll go from there.
You can see he turns the answer into more defense-related. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know his strengths lie more on the defensive side of things. At the same time, he's an intelligent individual and intelligent people are able to learn on the job. Of course I could be way off base, but I think I'm relatively in the ballpark on this issue.
Where I think Singletary can impact the offense is the overall sense of discipline and confidence. In fact I think that's the biggest strength Singletary brings to the table. I don't mean discipline in the sense of yelling and screaming and being a hard-ass. What I mean is that Singletary has a presence that I would think inspires confidence. This week will provide the first test, even if the Seahawks are struggling.
I think there was a confidence issue for the 49ers after the fourth straight loss. Three of the four losses were winnable games that were lost in part due to the coaching. I'm not expecting miracles from Mike Singletary and I don't think there was the proverbial "culture of losing" in the locker room. However, I do think Samurai Mike will bring a little something extra that was missing. Whether that translates into Ws remains to be seen.
I'll close with one of Singletary's last answers in the introductory press conference. He was asked about the players' reaction when he talked to them yesterday morning:
Well, I think first of all, when you are a new head coach you know everybody is excited. Going forward after a couple days, we’ll see how excited they are, but I warned them and told them be ready for the challenge ahead because I will challenge you to your very core.
Oh yes, it's on my friends.