Was this Mike Singletary's parting shot? A final piece of his legacy as San Francisco 49ers head coach?
If so, it's one he'll want to forget – and one he'll probably never live down.
In the third quarter Sunday, Singletary and quarterback Troy Smith were caught on camera shouting angrily at each other on the sideline. Back and forth, they exchanged angry words. Even Ted Ginn Jr., Smith's close friend since childhood, tried to cool things down, wiping his teammate's face with a towel.
The reason for the dispute was obvious: Singletary wanted to yank Troy Smith and insert Alex Smith, something he said last week was a possibility. Troy Smith insisted on staying in – and he did, for one more series.
"It was definitely about the quarterback switch," Troy Smith told reporters after the game. "I felt at the time I wasn't ready to come out. … It's ultimately his decision."
Troy Smith didn't want to be pulled after throwing an interception that the St. Louis Rams converted into a field goal. The Rams ultimately won the game 25-17 and crushed the Niners' playoff hopes. Alex Smith entered the game with 9 minutes 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter and led the team to a field goal, but it still left them short.
The loss and the sideline confrontation will likely be the way Singletary's term in San Francisco is remembered, assuming he's fired. Team president Jed York indicated changes are coming, including the hiring of a general manager. If that happens, it would probably lead to a new coach.
In fact, FOXSports.com's Jay Glazer reports that Singletary will be fired at the end of the season.
Singletary said: "I'm the head coach of this team and, obviously, wanted us to do better and felt we could do better. But there are some obvious question marks that I hoped would be answered as the season went on. And I'm not going to go into that right now. But obviously they were not answered. When that happens, you end up out of the playoffs."
York said he was not necessarily concerned about the Singletary-Troy Smith dispute, so don't expect the incident to be cited if and when the coach goes.
"I'm not worried about individual things like that," York said. "What bothers me is that we came into in this playoff-caliber game and we didn't get it done, and that's the bottom line.
"Obviously, we didn't achieve the things the things we set out to achieve. We should be a playoff team. We aren't a playoff team this year. I'm very disappointed about that. We need to figure out how we can get into the playoffs and how we can start to be a Super Bowl team again."
By now, it should be clear Singletary isn't the person to take them there.