Singletary has single purpose to lift Niners

Calm, composed, his mouth a flat line across the bottom of his face, Mike Singletary stepped to the podium Tuesday and meticulously adjusted the microphone in front of him before speaking his first words as the new coach of the 49ers. There was no exhilarative rush of emotion, no brash statements or promises. Just low-broiling intensity from a man who's "excited about taking it to the next level."

And how will Singletary do that with the 49ers, a downtrodden team steering fast toward a franchise-worst sixth consecutive losing season?

Well, the man with no previous experience as even a football coordinator – and with just 6½ seasons of experience as a NFL assistant – was a bit vague on particulars. After all, he still was an assistant/never been a coordinator just 20 hours previously.

But Singletary was precise about the big picture. He has vision, and while at the moment it's focused on his debut in his new role – Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks that takes the 49ers to their midseason bye week – he can clearly see where he plans to take the team now that he has replaced his friend and predecessor, Mike Nolan.

"I don't really know what to go in and what button to press here and what button to press there," Singletary said after being introduced as the 16th head coach in team history. "I'm not looking at creating something new, or re-inventing the wheel. I just know this: I know what is in my heart. I know that there is a fire that burns in my heart for this team to be successful. And that fire is unconquerable, and it will not die until it comes to pass. So, that's where I'm at."

Where are the 49ers at with Singletary, Nolan's assistant head coach the past 3½ years? A Hall of Famer during his playing days with the Chicago Bears, Singletary has been a Nolan subordinate since he entered coaching with the Baltimore Ravens in 2003.

At this point, after his 18-37 record and 2-5 start this year punctuated by a dismal four-game losing streak, you'd think the 49ers would want to get about as far away from Nolan as possible.

Owner Jed York took a stab at explaining where the 49ers are going with Singletary in charge.

"We need to re-establish our championship culture," York said. "And we need a coach that has the intensity to match that championship-caliber culture that we're looking for. I'm very excited to see what Mike can do in bringing out the passion and intensity in our football players.

"I think we're getting out-intensified. And that's what we need. And that's what Mike Singletary is going to bring. I think you feel it, you feel his presence when he's speaking. That's what he brings to the organization. That's what he's going to bring out of the players, and I think you're going to see our players perform and they're going to respond to that."

To be sure, Singletary is know for bringing out passion and intensity in football players. He has been addressing the team on a weekly basis since Nolan arrived, and he also is known for his work as a motivational speaker and author.

But as far as X's and O's, and what exactly he's going to do to get a floundering team back on track, well, Singletary will be looking for those answers as he goes.

"I'm just going to be myself," he said. "I'm going to be very, very diligent in terms of whatever it is, finding whatever it is, I will find it. And somehow, some way, it will show itself.

"I don't think you can be around me for very long and not be true to yourself and not find out what it is that you need to do in order to get there. I'm not a sugar-coater. I don't scratch my head when it doesn't itch, and I don't blink when there's nothing in my eye. I just know this: Whatever it is, we will find it."

The question is whether Singletary actually knows where to look. Here are some of his notable takes from Tuesday's news conference:

On how he can turn this team around where Nolan couldn't: "Sometimes, timing is everything. I think right now, the guys understand and they realize that we do have something here. To what degree, I don't know, but we do have something special here. It's a matter of stepping in and being able to bring it together. That's something I've done all my life, bringing things together."

On whether the team will now reflect his aggressive and passionate style: "Watch the next few weeks and see if we continue to be passive. I don't think so. We're going to play. We're not going to play with fear. We're going to play and we're going to be bold, playing within our system. We're not going to become crazy and lose our minds and begin to blitz all the time. We're going to do whatever it takes to win within the system. As a team, that's what we'll do on both sides of the ball, as well as special teams."

On his vision for the offense: "I would just tell you what my vision is for football, period. I'm a historian when it comes to this game. I go back to the very beginning of why football was created. It was created for people to compete and I think if you're not going to compete at the highest level, as fair as you can and as hard as you can, then you shouldn't be playing the game. To me, it is about the team – everything is about the team. If you are on defense, on offense, on special teams, it is about the team. As long as we keep the focus on the team and the things that we have to do every day, we're going to get where we need to go because we are not going to stop until we get there."

And now, with Singletary in the lead, the 49ers are just getting started again in that direction under their fourth head coach in eight years.

"Coach Singletary, when he steps into a room, you see people sit up, you see people take notice," general manager Scot McCloughan said. "This is a business and it's a job, and you have to play to your talent level and you have to go out there and perform. Mike is our head coach right and that's all that matters. I'm looking forward to seeing coach Singletary getting the most out of this team."


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