The shouting sequel: Singletary, Smith exchange words

Here’s the lead notebook item for Monday’s paper:

For Mike Singletary, it’s all over but the shouting.

In what was likely his penultimate game as the 49ers coach, Singletary got in a yelling match with Troy Smith on Sunday after the quarterback tossed a third-quarter interception in a 25-17 loss to St. Louis. Singletary told the struggling Smith on the sideline that he would be benched in favor of Alex Smith, who had started warming up.

That news kicked off a high-decibel exchange between coach and quarterback, a back-and-forth that became so heated that wide receiver Ted Ginn stepped between them. It marked the second time this season that Singletary has had a volatile exchange with his starting quarterback. He yelled at Alex Smith during a 27-24 loss against Philadelphia on Oct. 10.

In the postgame press conference, a reporter noted that it’s rare to see NFL head coaches have sideline shout-a-thons with their quarterbacks. Did the ex-middle linebacker think his method of communication was appropriate?

“I don’t really know about coaching etiquette, I am sure that there is a right way and a wrong way … in today’s rules of being politically correct,” Singletary said. “All I know is that I am trying to win a football game. Bottom line is that you have to do what you think is right; you have to go with your gut.  If you don’t do that, I think you regret a lot of things later on.”

Asked about the particulars of the argument, Smith initially joked that it was about whether he or Singletary had more passion. Then he turned serious.

“It was definitely about the quarterback switch, and I just felt at the time that I wasn’t ready to come out,” he said. “We talked, but, ultimately, the decision is his.”

And Singletary, perhaps hoping to inspire a winning response, decided to stick with Smith, who was in the midst of a performance in which he completed 7 of 19 passes and posted a 62.0 passer rating.

Singletary’s scream-and-see-what-happens tactic had appeared to work with Alex Smith in October. Smith responded by throwing two fourth-quarter touchdown passes.

Troy Smith, however, didn’t offer a similar response. The Niners managed just two first downs on their next three drives before Alex Smith came off the bench with 9:36 remaining.

“I thought about changing quarterbacks at that time and (Smith) thought that at that particular time he could do this, but if you want to take me out that is fine,” Singletary said. “I have to go with that. I decided to leave him in and give him some more opportunity.”

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