In the wake of a coaching change, NFL players are expected to (1) express respect for the outgoing coach, (2) praise the new guy in equal measure, (3) utter the words “you understand this is a business” and (4) express confidence in management.
The 49ers checked all the appropriate boxes Monday – not surprising when you consider that the players who addressed the media were handpicked by the team.
DT Ricky Jean Francois, TE Vernon Davis and OL David Baas all wandered into the media trailer at various points, and RB Frank Gore checked in by phone. Davis and Gore both expressed surprise that Singletary wasn’t allowed to finish the regular season. Other than that, all of the players stayed on point.
Here is a quick look at the turmoil, the termination, the mood and the prognosis, from the players’ perspective.
Davis, on Singletary’s in-your-face approach:
“Oh, yeah. I knew. I knew about it. I knew about it from the first time he stepped into the head coaching position. But that’s just coach being him. You know, you have to understand him, and where he’s coming from. He wants to win. He’s very emotional. … But I don’t see anything wrong with it.”
Gore, on the rocky season:
“It was tough, man. Especially when you know that you got talent, and things not going right. We know we got the talent to win, and it just wasn’t happening. So it’s very tough.”
“I apologize to like Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, all the older guys that used to play here, for coming out with a record like this. That feels like we’re disrespecting them, because they’re the guys that started the franchise, and started it into one of the biggest franchises in the league.”
Gore, on speculation that Singletary would be fired:
“I heard the rumor when I saw the special on, when he and Deion Sanders talked. That’s when I first heard it. I thought he probably would have finished the season, at least. But when I knew we didn’t have a chance to go to the playoffs, then when I saw last night, I figured that was probably gonna happen.”
Baas, on how he got the news:
“Coach (Mike) Solari called me. I thought they did a really good job of trying to get to everybody before it broke out, and tell us the news. It was one of those things where that’s not our decision. I’m sure some guys can speculate for the past couple weeks or whatever, but we were focused on trying to win.”
“They tried to reach everybody last night. Ray McDonald called me first, but I didn’t answer. But when I saw Jim (Tomsula) called me, I just wondered what happened, or did somebody get hurt or something like that. But he called me probably around 10 o’clock and told us that Coach Singletary was let go, and now he’s the interim. So it was like, I didn’t even know what to say then, once I knew he was let go. That was one person from like the first day I came in that changed me fully around, … the way I act, the way I talk, everything. So to have him let go, that’s like … a piece of the 49ers organization leaving.”
Baas, on the atmosphere in the locker room today:
“There’s that taste in your mouth, just from the loss. You can’t just easily slip by it. It’s there, and you have to address it. And of course, with some of the guys being let go, you’ve got to address that, too.”
Davis, on how well he knows interim coach Jim Tomsula.
“Oh, I know Jim Tomsula really well. He’s not my coach. I never really spent a lot of time with him. But he’s always around. For some reason, he’s always been around me, you know, in my face: ‘I appreciate you, Vernon. I appreciate you.’ He’s a coach.”
Gore on Jed York’s decisions:
“If they feel like that’s the best way to go for the team, then I’m gonna go with ’em.”
Davis, on the future of the franchise:
“I’m very confident about the way things are moving. Going forward, we have a lot to look forward to. Jed York and the rest of the guys upstairs, they want to do everything they can to put us in the best situation possible. And I believe in them, I trust them. I’ve trusted them since the first day I walked in here.”