A few thoughts the day after a coach-quarterback shout fest, a playoff-eliminating loss, a Jed-York-this-will-not-stand meeting with the media and, finally, a firing of the head coach.
(By the way, I’m in the midst of a two-layover – Dallas, Phoenix, oh my! – day that will prevent me from making it to the noon press conference with Jed York and interim coach Jim Tomsula. I’ll post a transcript here when it becomes available, assuming it doesn’t become available when I’m at 30,000 feet):
• Jon Gruden and Jim Harbaugh, the people’s choice head-coaching candidates, would both come with a caviar price tag.
But team president and CEO Jed York didn’t hesitate after the game Sunday when asked about the possible financial ramifications of firing Mike Singletary and, in turn, hiring a new coach.
“Money is no object,” York said. “Our object is to win the Super Bowl. We’re going to make sure we get this right.”
The Yorks, it’s worth noting, haven’t hesitated to open the vault recently – shelling out about $52 million in guaranteed money to lock up franchise cornerstones Patrick Willis and Vernon Davis to long-term deals.
There was obviously no other choice, but they’ll also be paying Singletary about $5 million over the next two years to not coach the 49ers.
• There will be a new coach and general manager, but there may not be an offseason roster purge.
York’s postgame comments made it clear he believed coaching was the source of many of the Niners’ problems this season. He said the most disappointing aspect of the team was it apparent lack of focus and he also cited its inconsistency.
Talent, he said, wasn’t the issue.
“We’ve got enough talent on this team that we should have been the NFC West champion and we should have been competing in the playoffs,” he said.
Of course, the not-yet-hired GM might have a different opinion.
• There is some sentiment (click here) that York acted impulsively by firing Singletary hours after saying he didn’t want to make an emotional decision regarding his head coach’s future.
I disagree. What, exactly, is the drawback to not having Singletary around for the regular-season finale?
It would have been an awkward week for the players and Singletary, who officially went from hot seat to chopping block after the Niners were eliminated from playoff contention with another mistake-filled loss.
I’m not suggesting York was considering Singletary’s feelings when he made the decision. Still, he probably did him a favor by not delaying the inevitable.
• To the bitter end, Singletary was a proud coach not given to accepting his share of the responsibility for the failings of his underachieving team. After Sunday’s loss, Singletary was asked if he considered the season a “personal failure.”
“A personal failure,” Singletary said, clearly annoyed by the phrase. “I’m the head coach of this team and obviously I wanted us to do better – felt that we could do better. But there are some obvious question marks that I’d hoped would be answered as the season went on. And I’m not going to go into that right now, but obviously (they) were not answered. And when that happens, you end up out of the playoffs.”
Singletary clearly wasn’t referring to himself when he mentioned those question marks, which no doubt included the quarterback position. It was reminiscent of his it’s-on-me press conference earlier in the season when he insisted everything – wide receivers running the wrong routes etc. – was his fault.
That came off as insincere. As if he was accountable to a fault — a stand-up coach honorably accepting the bullet that should have been taken by his bumbling players.
On Sunday, Singletary did it again, prompting a follow-up question: Wasn’t it his responsibility as the head coach to answer those questions he’d mentioned?
“I take full responsibility for every unanswered question,” he said. “I take full responsibility for that.”
Hours later, he was forced to do so.
• So you think Sunday’s regular-season finale against visiting Arizona is meaningless?
Consider this: The winner will avoid the indignity of finishing in last place in what is, quite possibly, the worst division in NFL history.
• Here’s a confession: I started this job four days before the season opener and, given my rookie status, I hoped (prayed?) for a nice, quiet season free of controversies, breaking news or anything else that might heighten my already sky-high stress level and induce death.
You know, I was hoping to settle in. Get comfortable. Ease into things.
I’ve laughed about my naiviety more than once this season.