Niners prohibited from hiring Singletary during the season

In an article I wrote for Tuesday’s paper, I suggested the 49ers could lose Mike Singletary to another organization if the club wanted to wait until after the season to name him head coach for 2009 – and beyond.

Two different individuals in the 49ers organization informed me that NFL rules prohibited the 49ers – or any other team – from promoting an interim coach to permanent coach during the season.


I did not write about that rule because, frankly, I was skeptical.


So I contacted the NFL office for confirmation. Initially, I was told from an official in the league office that the rule does not apply because Mike Singletary is a minority. That seemed to make sense. After all, per the Rooney Rule, teams have to interview at least one minority candidate before hiring a head coach.


But the NFL representative told me that he would check around and get back to me for official-official word.


This afternoon, NFL office got back to me.


And the official word is that the rule still applies to the 49ers. The club – all clubs – have to wait until after the season to make an interim coach the permanent coach.


The rule states that a “club may name an interim from its staff without going through a formal interviewing process. However, the club must follow the mandatory interviewing process in choosing a new permanent head coach. No club may make a commitment to a coach retained during the season that extends beyond the end of the club’s playing season. Any contract that seeks to make such a commitment will not be approved.”


A 49ers official told me that the 49ers would hold exclusive negotiating rights with Singletary for a period of time. I’m checking now to see exactly how long that window would remain open before other teams would be able to get involved and make Singletary an offer.


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