This is my Wednesday column.
Is Jim Tomsula worse than Mike Singletary?
Fair question, even though some (most?) consider Singletary the worst head coach in the history of the NFL. Let’s compare him and Tomsula.
Singletary was a linebackers coach before becoming the Niners’ head coach. He was articulate — he could have been a preacher. But, he often said vague things like, “I need to look at the film,” or “I want winners,” because he didn’t know what he was doing. Never understood the intricacies of his craft. Had zero concept of offensive schematics.
Tomsula was a defensive line coach before becoming the Niners’ head coach. He is not articulate — often he can’t complete a sentence. But, he says lots of football jargon, like “four technique” and “edge-three rushers,” because he wants you to think he knows what he’s doing. Wants you to understand he’s been a coach for a long time, even though this season is his first full season as a head coach in the NFL.
Singletary was arrogant. Hall-of-Fame ego. Thought he was a great coach because he had been a great player. Wore a giant cross on his chest during games and thanked God for victories. One time in front his players during a training-camp meeting, Singletary wrote “19-0” on a grease board, according to a source who was in the room. Singletary was serious. He really thought the Niners would win the Super Bowl AND go undefeated that season.
Tomsula is humble. An Average Joe — he’s friends with Joan in Payroll. He doesn’t have a Hall-of-Fame ego. He calls as little attention to himself as possible.
Singletary loved calling attention to himself. During his first game as the Niners’ head coach, he dropped his pants at halftime to show his players what he thought of their performance.
Singletary had standards, even if he expressed them in a strange way.
Tomsula has none. After losses, he praises players for working hard and playing well in practice. Week 2, when the Pittsburgh Steelers obliterated the Niners 43-18 — Tomsula’s first loss as a fulltime NFL head coach — he walked around the locker room, shook every player’s hand and thanked them individually for their effort.
You would have thought Tomsula was handing out participation trophies to little kids. Players grinned nervously as if they were thinking, “Is this guy serious?”
Singletary worked players hard. Made them run up a hill he had installed on the side of the practice field, and made them do the “Oklahoma Drill” — two players colliding at full speed. Singletary’s players were tough. They always played hard for him.
Tomsula doesn’t work his players hard. During meetingS, he gives them breaks every 30 minutes so they can check their cell phones. During training camp, he scheduled practices for the late afternoon because that’s when the players wanted to practice. As if what they wanted mattered.
Tomsula’s training camp was extremely light. Practices rarely lasted longer than an hour and a half, as if 90-minute practices could prepare a team for three-hour games.
Tomsula’s players are soft, and do not play hard for him. On the road, they don’t even show up until the second quarter — they take about an hour to ramp up to game speed because their practices are so easy. Tomsula can’t prepare his team to play a full game. Singletary could.
Singletary took over a team that was 2-5, had lost four games in a row and 20 of its previous 29. After he became the head coach, the Niners’ went 5-4 in 2008, and 8-8 in 2009. Singletary turned around a bad a team.
Tomsula turned around a good team. Before he became the Niners’ head coach, they had won 44 of their previous 64 games. After he became the head coach, they have won just three of 10 games.
The Niners fired Singletary after Week 16 of 2010 when the team’s record was 5-10. He deserved to get fired.
Tomsula deserves to get fired, too. The Niners would have to win two of their next five games just to achieve a record of 5-10. Fat chance. They play the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday — that’s a loss. Then they play two road games — they’re 0-5 on the road. Then they play the 8-2 Cincinnati Bengals at home — another loss. Then they play one more road game. Then they play the St. Louis Rams, who blew out the Niners earlier this season.
If that comes to pass, it will be 13 losses and only three wins. Singletary won 18 games as the 49ers’ head coach. No way Tomsula wins that many before he gets fired.
Tomsula is no Singletary.
Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at email@example.com.