For the first time in decades — perhaps in the history of the organization – 49ers assistant coaches have been ruled off-limits to the media.
Coach Mike Singletary said at some point in the future he will make his assistant coaches available to the media “on a limited basis.” Several media members requested interviews with new offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye this minicamp, but the 49ers’ public-relations department relayed word that Raye would not be available.
“The most important thing for us right now is to really look at getting better,” Singletary said this morning. “I want our coaches to focus on doing just that. Offensively, we’re a little behind the eight ball. Jimmy Raye and his staff have a lot of work to do to get the guys caught up. I don’t want them thinking about trying to explain what the offense is and trying to give a rhyme or reason for this or that. Let’s get this show on the road. We got to go to work and get it done.”
The 49ers have always promoted an open policy with assistant coaches. It might have been one of the reasons the 49ers under Bill Walsh and George Seifert routinely had one of the best coaching staffs in the league. Assistant coaches, such as Mike Holmgren and many others, benefitted from the exposure and the experience in dealing regularly with the media.
Singletary said the decision to limit the access to assistant coaches is not a reaction to some of the “leaks.” Last week, Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter reported on ESPN’s “First Take” that 49ers assistant coaches expressed dismay that they were kept out of the loop about free-agent signings Brandon Jones and Damon Huard. Trotter reported Jones did not receive high marks as a receiver from the coaching staff.
“It wasn’t just last week,” Singletary said. “There have been several things written throughout the offseason — not just last week about communication. I’m confident that those things, we’ll handle in-house. We’ll get it solved. It has everything to do with staying focused and being on one page and trying to stay true to the course.
“We made a decision to say, ‘Let the guys coach and at the appropriate time – and I respect what you guys (media) are doing. I know you need to talk to them at some point in time, we’ll do that. Right now, I just feel it’s really important to get moving. Get going.”
This might not seem like a big deal, but it’s a move that could backfire. If the assistant coaches feel as if they are being punished, it might create more reason for them to speak out against Singletary or the organization in off-the-record interviews.
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