Don’t get too caught up in wins down the stretch

Mike Singletary can make a stronger case on the field Sunday against the N.Y. Jets for earning the 49ers’ head-coaching gig for next season.

After all, the 49ers could get their first victory over a playoff team (using all their players) since late in the 2006 season when they defeated the Seahawks in Seattle. (No, we don’t count the victory over Tampa Bay last year when Jon Gruden pulled his starters early.)

 

But the 49ers can’t use the standard of how they’re finishing the season as the best gauge to hire a head coach. Lest we forget, Mike Nolan’s record over the final four games of each of his first three seasons was 6-6. The 49ers always played better in December under Nolan.

 

There is no question that the 49ers could do a lot worse than extending Singletary an offer to be the team’s permanent head coach. But rather than seeing how Singletary’s team is doing at the end of this season, it is much more important to hire him based on his plan for the future.

 

For instance, he has unquestionably had a positive influence on offensive coordinator Mike Martz. With Singletary guiding Martz, the 49ers’ offense is no longer filthy with sacks allowed and turnovers.

 

The team has played to its strengths. Frank Gore runs the ball, and Shaun Hill uses play-action to throw passes in the short and intermediate ranges. Gone is Martz’s high-risk, high-reward offense since Singletary started shaping Martz’s thought process.

 

But does Martz figure into the 49ers’ long-term plans? Will he take a college job? Does Martz want to be back working under Singletary? We don’t know the answers to those questions.

 

So if Martz does not return, what is Singletary’s plan for the offense?

 

The fact Singletary’s background is on defense is the reason he was a long shot for the full-time job in 2009 when he took over as interim coach. But the better he does in this role, the more difficult it will be for the 49ers to hire anybody but him as the next head coach.

 

Ideally, the 49ers would like to hire a head coach with an offensive mind. That way, regardless of what changes are necessitated on the coaching staff, at least the offensive structure is guaranteed to remain the same.

 

Singletary’s best bet might be to latch onto a young, successful quarterbacks coach who needs several good seasons as a coordinator to get on anybody’s list as a head-coaching candidate.

 

Before Singletary is rubber-stamped as the next head coach, it seems that issue would need to be resolved.

 

After all, Nolan’s major failing as a head coach was that he was never able to establish any offensive continuity from one year to the next. He was completely at the mercy of his offensive coordinator. How does Singletary plan to make sure the 49ers do not repeat that mistake?

 

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