Singletary knows how to read the room

Mike Singletary was immensely popular in the locker room when the 49ers hired him full-time as head coach at the end of last season.


And Singletary has mostly remained a very popular coach among the players. But in recent weeks, his popularity rating inside the locker room began to drop. Guess who was the first to recognize that?


Mike Singletary, of course.


“It really is all about just seeing,” Singletary said. “Opening your eyes and opening your ears and reading body language, that’s a huge thing. And just try to be proactive that way.”


Now, Singletary does not mind being unpopular if it’s the right thing to do for the team. But he knows how to read the room, and he knew things were not right. The general consensus was that the players felt as if they were wearing down because Singletary was working the team too hard in practice.


So, last week, Singletary – after conversations with some of his respected leaders – decided the team was not going to wear pads in practice any longer.


Singletary said that decision came after “negotiating with a couple players.”


“I’m inviting them to talk to me, not that I’m going to agree with everything,” Singletary said. “It’s just a matter of, ‘If it does make sense, let’s do it.’ “


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With the 49ers going more to a passing attack, a lot of people are happy. But the one player who seemingly takes on a reduced role is running back Frank Gore.


“Any great player I’ve been around, whether it’s Walter Payton or a great receiver, Jerry Rice, whoever it might be . . . when they’re not getting the ball, they feel like they’re not contributing,” Singletary said.


“I talked to all of our guys and told them that going forward everybody will have their part in the success. And it’s really important that we’re for one another. If we really want to do this right and we really want to win, we need to be happy about the other guy. When somebody else has the ball, instead of me being upset about not having the ball, go find a block and free him up.”


Gore said, “As long as we win, I’m fine with it.”


Gore is known as a power runner who is at his best working between the tackles. But he said he can run the ball out of any formation, and he said when his number is called he’ll always do the best he can do.


Gore gained 33 yards on 16 rushes last week against the Jaguars while Alex Smith was attempting 41 passes. Gore also caught seven passes for 7 yards and a touchdown. He played 60 of the 49ers’ 61 offensive snaps.


This week poses a dilemma for the 49ers. Sure, it was easy to go with a spread formation Sunday against the Jaguars. But Gore has experienced uncommon success against the Seahawks through the years.


Earlier this season, Gore rushed for 207 yards, including touchdown runs of 79 and 80 yards, in the 49ers’ 23-10 victory over Seattle. In his past seven games against the Seahawks, Gore has averaged 160 yards from scrimmage (869 yards rushing and 251 receiving).


Singletary said he’d like the 49ers to have more continuity on offense from week to week, but the emphasis of the playcalling is usually based on what is working.


“Obviously, I’d like to see more carryover,” Singletary said. “But the most important thing is we want to go into every game thinking we want to be balanced. But if you’re running the ball better, maybe you’re going to run 60-40. And if you’re throwing the ball better, maybe you’re going to throw 60-40. You don’t want to outsmart yourself. If you’re team is doing something well that day against that particular defense, you want to try to do it.”


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