Singletary from the other side

Niners assistant head coach Mike Singletary, who grew up in the Houston area and played in college at Baylor University, discusses various topics with Houston writers Wednesday in advance of Sunday's game between the 49ers and Texans. Singletary's name is being tossed around as a NFL head coaching candidate in 2006, and here he talks about whether he is ready now for that challenge after just three years as a NFL assistant, along with giving his takes on several other subjects.

On his best childhood memories: "Family. Family is one thing that was always important. A lot of friends, a lot of memories – that's where I'm from. I had a lot of wonderful experiences in Houston. And Houston is a football town. A lot of great talent has come through there, whether it's on the Pee-Wee level or professional level, whatever. There are just a lot of tremendous memories there, and of course family is always important."

On if he wants to win to help Houston get first pick: "I tell you what. We're going to do all that we can to win. So trust me, we would love for you guys to have (Reggie) Bush."

On when he'll be ready to be a head coach: "In my mind, I'm ready now. But that's not for me to decide. The most important thing is for me to continue to work and learn to be the absolute best that I can be, but in my mind I'm ready now."

On the most important thing he has learned since getting into coaching: "More so than anything else, being an assistant head coach has really allowed me to see the amount of responsibility that the head coach has, and just made me understand that much more. How important it is that you have a tremendous staff. I thought before, I must admit I was a bit naïve, that if Mike Singletary showed up that things are going to change, the coaching was going to change, and that just because I was there, the organization was going to change. But I understand and I've learned over the past couple of years that it is so important to have a tremendous staff. Everything you want your team to look like, that staff had better look like, starting with you. More than anything: it's a difficult thing to change culture."

On if he thinks he'll get a chance to interview for upcoming openings: "Well I'm going to find out here pretty soon. I never delve into speculation and all those other things. I always do the best that I can where I'm at, and if the opportunity presents itself and the situation is right, then you make a move. I would like the opportunity to have interviews (this year) and possibly the next step. But yes, I would like to have the opportunity to be the guy."

On returning to Baylor, where he starred in college and interviewed for a coaching position: "At this point I never really look back. I thought Baylor did a good job in choosing the guy that they chose. For me it was just an opportunity to move forward. I'm very thankful that I ended up going to Baltimore and getting the experience there. And of course this year was equivalent to five years to me in terms of what I could have learned by both the experience of this team and being the assistant head coach, and having the opportunity to be with Mike (Nolan) and look at so many things he has to do as a head coach."

On if remembers his draft day: "Yes I do. I was heartbroken. I think the thing that I learned from that experience is that destiny is extremely important. It's one of those things where I look at things now, and you alluded to the Baylor situation, and if it's meant to be it's going to happen. For me, all I do is continue to work my tail off and when the opportunity presents itself, be prepared. When the opportunity is in the same place where the preparation is, nine times out of 10 you're going to be in good shape."

On his feelings about the death of Tony Dungy's son: "It stopped me in my tracks when I heard it. It was definitely a really sad thing. Tony and I have been on the same program several times talking about how important it is to be a great dad and be a great leader. When that happened, to know that Tony has been intentional through the years in being the kind of dad that wanted to be there for his kids, it makes you stop and take a step back and make sure you're going in the right direction as a dad."

On if that made him question his commitment to coaching: "Not at all. I think everybody's situation is different. Every dad, every mom, every kid and every family is different. For me the best thing that I had to do was that I had time to really discover who Mike Singletary is outside of being No. 50 for the Chicago Bears for 12 years. I had a chance to run a business, I had a chance to do some other things and develop a real take on what the world is all about, and really appreciate opportunities when they came. And to appreciate family, and being intentional about being a great dad and being a great husband, and it takes a lot of work to do that. But my wife and I put that foundation in place during the time I was away from the game."

On if return to coaching was a hard sell to his family: "Oh no, as a matter of fact, it was Kim's idea before it was mine. Strangely enough I wouldn't have been a coach, and I've explained this several times. I don't think a lot people understand what I'm saying. But to me, through prayer, my wife and I realized that it was time to coach. Coaching has always been in my heart, but to have the opportunity to come back to it, and it was a confirmation through my wife, not me. I didn't ask her to coach. It was one of those things where she said, ‘Mike, we need to be coaching.' At that time, I had to pray about that some more by myself. I decided yes, and we talked about it as a family and here we are."

On if players appreciate his playing: "As a coach, one of the things I try to do was that whatever player I was, and I don't really talk to them a lot about when I played, because it's sort of like the guy that says ‘When I was in your shoes I did this…' and I never want to do that. I want them to appreciate me for the coach that I am, and to be able to look back on the experiences that I've had and know that when I'm sharing something with them that I really know what I'm talking about. And to me that's the most important thing. If I can notch and even exceed what I was as a player, that's what I want to achieve as a coach."

On who has been most influential on coaching career: "Different coaches offer different things. Coach Ditka to me is the ultimate visionary in terms of what it takes – the fire, the commitment – to be successful. Buddy Ryan to me had the mindset in terms of the mental capacity to really look at a defense and say, ‘This is what we need to, this is how this fits our team and this is how we're going to get there.' And I look at Coach (Grant) Teaff when I was in college. Coach Teaff was to me the total coach. He could be a mentor to the players; he could be a father figure, which to me he still is to this day. Coach was in the business of changing lives, and through changing lives, he helped you understand what winning was all about. It wasn't to win at the expense of the individual. Even Coach Brown in Houston, my coach in high school, it was just a matter of going out there and being able to fight every play and having a work ethic that's second to none. I've been very fortunate. Corky Nelson in college, the technician, we have to be technically sound. If we're fundamentally sound, we've got a chance. If we don't get sloppy on that and it's something we do everyday, then we're going to be successful."

On if he's proud of his book: "Yes I am. I'm proud of it for a number of reasons. It's a very lighthearted book, very easy to read. You sit down and look at that stories that are in it. Some cater to life, some cater to parenting and some cater to sports. But they all speak to you in such a way where you can get it, get something out of it and move on."


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