SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Mike Singletary has no intention of quitting as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, but the day his tenure ends – and make no mistake, it will happen in time – he may want to borrow from the prepared notes he read to the media on Monday.
"You're going to say, am I doing a good job? Obviously, at 3-7, no. … I wouldn't even dare to say I'm doing a good job," he said.
The day after his team was handed its first home shutout loss in 33 years, Singletary figured he should be the fall guy. Whether it was to take some of the heat off his players, who seemed sluggish at times in a 21-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, or to admit his own failures (not likely), Singletary wanted to take the blame. All of it.
But at the suggestion his team is finished this season (and technically, it isn't, thanks to the wretchedness of the NFC West), he continues to insist the race can still be won.
"It's not over yet," he said. "I think the most important thing for me is that we have a game coming up Monday night and a few more after that. But particularly the one that I'm excited about is the one Monday night. Ask me after that game if I'm doing a good job."
The answer is probably going to be the same as it's always been. The 49ers play the Arizona Cardinals on the road next Monday night in a divisional game that could keep alive their teetering chances or send Singletary into another hopeful monologue. But keep in mind, the Niners are 0-4 on the road this season and 4-13 since he became head coach in October 2008.
Following Sunday's defeat, which dropped their record to 3-7, Singletary said he would have to look at the game film to figure out what went wrong. Monday, he said he didn't do a capable job getting his team ready – although it's worth noting that while he pinned the blame on himself, he also pointed a finger at others.
"My job is to lead, to motivate and prepare to win football games," he said. "Did I lead yesterday? I think so. Did I motivate through the week? I think so. Did I prepare? Did we prepare our players? Um, obviously not as well as we should have because they didn't execute as well as they could have. That's on us, and that's on me as the head coach.
"As you look at our team, and particularly as we talk about the game yesterday, why we lost the game, that would be on me. That would be on me. That would be on me when our receivers don't run the right route. When we have a turnover, that's on me. Anything that happened in the game is on me. Because it all ultimately comes back to me. I understand that."
Singletary mentioned two plays against the Bucs in which he blamed himself while at the same time putting offensive coordinator Mike Johnson on the hot seat.
"When I make a decision in the game, in terms of having to call a timeout because I decided against punting the ball (in the fourth quarter) after telling our coordinator, on a third-and-5 and our quarterback ended up scrambling and it's fourth-and-3 or something like that … I told him, ‘If it's fourth-and-1, we're going to go for it.'
"It ends up being fourth-and-3, and I still decide to go for it. ‘Do you have a call for fourth-and-three? Can we do this?' Yes. That's on me. Fourth-and-3, I figured it was a critical time in the game. I wanted to make sure we had the right call. The call we had was for fourth-and-1. Fourth-and-3 was a bit different. (We) had a pretty good call (but) did not execute.
"The other situation in the game, when we have a fourth-down situation and the question was why did I not kick a field goal? There were a number of reasons why I would not kick a field goal without (injured) Joe Nedney being on the field in that situation.?No. 1, because of the weather. No. 2, because it was a 51-yard field goal. I did not want to put us in the situation with a field-goal kicker (Shane Andrus) than I don't know a lot about (and) put us in a situation where we could possibly get it blocked -- or miss it and have them be in good field position. So I elected to punt the ball. And I trust our punter, because we have an All-Pro punter (Andy Lee). Trust our defense, because our defense plays pretty well, and try and force them to make errors."