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Singletary should consider the college game

Mike Singletary

San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary, center, talks with side judge Greg Meyer, right, and back judge Terrence Miles in the second quarter during an NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)


The Mike Singletary era ended in San Francisco the same way it began -- with an sideline confrontation between the coach and one of his players. In the first game Singletary ever coached for the 49ers, it was tight end Vernon Davis. In the last game he coached for the Niners, it was quarterback Troy Smith.

In between, there weren’t many altercations. But there likewise weren’t enough wins.

“One of the greatest experiences of my life was having the opportunity to coach the San Francisco 49ers,” Singletary said in a statement issued by the team. “What made it so special were the players. They were some of the most outstanding men I have ever been around in my life. The coaches were truly professionals. I wish the 49ers nothing but the best. I am thankful to the York family for having given me the opportunity to be a head coach in the NFL. I am indebted to them for that. I am also thankful for the Faithful fans, I am just sorry I couldn’t give them more.”

In hindsight, it’s not really a surprise that he didn’t give them more. Singletary wasn’t ready to be an NFL head coach. Out of football for more than a decade after ending his Hall of Fame career as a player, Singletary rose too quickly in the coaching ranks, thanks to a passion and intensity that obscured his lack of experience and/or the kind of grind-it-out dues paying in which other coaches must engage before getting a crack at one of the best 32 jobs in the sport.

He made a bad decision by hiring Jimmy Raye to be his offensive coordinator, a situation that imploded earlier this year, with Raye being fired not long after a season of high expectations got off to a horrendous start. From that point, Singletary was doomed; the inability of either the Seahawks or the Rams to end the Niners’ playoff chances prolonged the relationship.

All that said, we think Singletary has a potentially bright future as a coach at the college level. He would be an excellent recruiter, and he would motivate young players to get the most out of their skills.

Moreover, we suspect that Singletary wouldn’t be willing to accept a demotion to a lower level of the NFL coaching hierarchy. He has climbed the ladder at the highest level of the sport. Instead of stepping down by a rung or two, we think Singletary will look instead for another tree.