Good morning nation! The day has barely gotten started, and yet as soon as I make my rounds from football site to football site, you can hardly avoid the most recent tirade by fearless leader Mike Singletary. Last Friday, Sing sat down on KNBR with Ralph Barbieri and Tom Tolbert to talk about the Niners upcoming season, and how the off-season has progressed (the audio can be found here - it's gold). The conversation immediately delved into Kurt Warner and how the Niners approached trying to sign him, and if the Niners were used like a $3 woman-of-the-night. And after the third question concerning Warner right off the bat, the samurai wanted to move on. Here is an excerpt of what he said on the radio show:
You know what. Hold on, hold on. Let me say this - I want to go in another direction. I mean I’ve been with our guys right here, I’ve got these guys signed, they’re ready to go, they’ve been working their tails off today. I want to talk about them. I don’t want to talk anymore about Kurt Warner. As far as I’m concerned, he’s with the Arizona Cardinals. And two times next year we’ll see him, maybe a third depending on how things work out. But as far as Arizona, Kurt Warner, anybody else out there, it does not matter. I want to talk about the people that are here and that I’m coaching right now.
After that, they moved on to another 49ers controversy (that I have yet to hear anything about) concerning Matt Stafford and the interview the 49ers had with him at the combine. Apparently during the combine, the Niners brought in a psychologist to ask Stafford a few questions, some of which (allegedly) involved his parent's divorce, which (allegedly) upset Stafford. Here, more comments from Singletary:
If you want to talk about what happened at the combine, if you're going to look at drafting a guy in the first round, and you're going to pay him millions of dollars, and asking him about a divorce about his parents, if that's going to be an issue, uhhh then you know what, maybe he doesn't belong here.
This seemingly leads us to believe that Stafford is not in the 49ers plans, even if he is on the board when it comes to our pick. It could be a little bit of mis-direction, but Sing seems to want level-headedness when it comes to a QB, and he doesn't think Stafford has it. More information to come on this issue as it comes up...
From there, Coach Sing addressed those of you (myself included) who are skeptical of the moves that the 49ers are making this season, especially given the nature of the unsuccessful moves they have made in the past (letting Mooch go, signing Erikson, etc):
I can’t worry about that. I’m not skeptical, I don’t think our players are going to be skeptical; I don’t think the organization is going to be skeptical. We’re going to go full-speed ahead and we’re coming. As far as all the other things, you know the what-ifs, what-might, I can’t deal with that. I have to deal with reality. That’s my job - dealing in reality.
From this, it looks like Sing has the right attitude for this organization in it's current state. Barbieri was right, those of us who have stayed loyal to this team for +15 years have a good amount of skepticism built in over the past few years. In my opinion, Samurai Mike can't let that influence his decisions or affect his plans. In his own words:
That’s why there’s a new year. That’s why there’s a new year. And that’s why they have to believe. If our fans are really, really second guessing or whatever, tell them to come to a practice. Tell them to come to a practice, and I guarantee you when they leave, all their questions will be answered.
Of course, as the interview went on, we went from one potential 49ers QB to two others; Matt Cassell and Jay Cutler. When asked if the 49ers organization is interested in the Denver QB/was interested in the former Patriots QB, Coach responded as such:
Cutler’s under contract. Can’t talk it. Cassell - I mean we never got there. And you know what, let me say this - you may think why is he acting this way. You know what? I was anticipating you asking me about the guys we have here today. I was anticipating... this is the beginning of a new era. This is beginning of a new 49ers organization. I was anticipating we were going to be talking about that. I’m all jacked up about that and you ask me about Kurt Warner. And not once, not twice, but three times. Why are we talking about that?
THAT is a great quote. I don't care about the Cutler, Cassell or Warner talk, I care about that middle section. The fact that Sing wants to cut off the past 7 years of our organization's failure is step 1 of 30 to turning this program around, and is something that I never really felt in Erikson or Nolan. Singletary demands excellence, and demands a new Niners with a new attitude.
Fooch's Note: Due to length, we've moved part of this to after the jump.
Then the interview went back to Warner (again, ugh). Here are some details that may lead to some insight into the discussions Warner and Singletary had during Kurt's visit last month:
Let me ask you this - I don’t think Kurt Warner was ever turned off [of the 49ers]. I don’t think he ever said he was turned off. I think Kurt Warner said he knew after 30 or 45 minutes that he entered this room that he knew he was supposed to be in Arizona. What if some of the things we talked about were some dreams I had about the 49ers that may have been a bit too big? Maybe there were some things that I was talking about with Kurt Warner, that maybe he didn’t want to see it that way. It doesn’t necessarily have to go to a place where Kurt Warner got turned off. I don’t think so. Why does it have to go there?
After hearing this, I am reminded of a saying I remember from elementary school (and I'm paraphrasing here): "Shoot for the moon, even if you fall short you still end up among the stars". It restores a bit of confidence in me that Singletary is talking about getting a championship, returning the Niners to prominence. Even if he falls short of his goal, and the Niners make the playoffs, that is a MASSIVE improvement from years past. I'll take the optimism where I can get it now adays.
That also leads me to believe that Singletary has a plan that goes beyond this season. If the dreams were too big for Warner, could the reason as to why they were too big be because they lasted longer than 2 years, the expected amount of time Warner will remain in the league. Ambition is an admirable quality, and while it doesn't make him a great coach yet, it is a step in the right direction.
Finally (for this story at least) Sing got into players currently on the Niners roster (FINALLY). When asked "Is Shaun Hill right now the starting QB?", this was his response:
MS: Yes... I would envision at some point in time we make a decision on whether it’s Shaun Hill who’s going to be the starting QB or whether it’s going to be Alex Smith. But I can tell you right now, today, based on what he did last year, he is the starting QB. He and Alex Smith will compete and the best one who wins that competition will be the #1 QB.
KNBR: And you feel comfortable with either one of them?
MS: I feel outstanding about it.
KNBR: And Huard would be strictly a backup?
MS: Uhhhh.. Yes.
Oh it's on like Donkey Kong! For all you Hill lovers out there, straight from Singletary's mouth, the QB job is Hill's to lose. Smith has a chance to be the starter, and Huard is wearing headphones all season (barring disastrous injuries) but Hill is the starter for now.
The rest of the interview goes onto talk about the status of Bruce (Sing is giving him the time he needs), the draft (it's looking like they are employing the BPA strategy), is Josh Morgan a #1 WR (short answer, yes), who is Frank Gore's backup (unknown as of now), the 49ers combine strategy (get into their heads), a Kentwan Balmer update ("He is a totally different kid") and a Dashon Goldson update (still figuring out his role on the team). I suggest you listen to the whole interview, its pretty revealing.
In the end, I learned a lot more from this interview than most of the press conferences/state-of-the-franchises/other interviews during the off season. We got an inside look into the mind of Singletary, his aspirations for the franchise, and his thought process behind two of the big offseason moves that most people at this site would not, and still have not, given up on. My only concern is that rants like these become commonplace under a Singletary regime, to the point where what Singletary says after a game is more important to some than the game itself. But for now, optimism will remain at a high.