Singletary explodes after 49ers implode again

The highlight of the afternoon for the 49ers on Sunday was the show Mike Singletary, his powerful voice growing in volume and magnitude with every deliberate word, put on at the post-game news conference following his debut as the team's head coach. Unfortunately, it was a much better show than his team performed on the field the previous three hours during a humiliating 34-13 loss to Seattle.

That hapless show was the usual comedy of errors filled with costly turnovers, defensive breakdowns and undisciplined mistakes that got Mike Nolan fired to begin this week and have characterized the team's poor play since it started 2-1 in September.

Now the 49ers are 2-6 as they reach their bye week on a five-game losing streak, the last defeat of which had to be an embarrassment for Singletary, who was hired as interim coach for the remainder of the season to turn around the error-prone play and losing culture that has invaded this team.

But after a loss that was as bad as any the 49ers have had at home over the past two seasons, Singletary put on an awe-inspiring performance that had to be witnessed in person to actually understand the spine-tingling inspiration that he exuded.

Maybe this is the right guy for the job after all.

Singletary began his post-game oratory by jumping to the podium and filling the microphone before anybody could get in a word.

"Before you ask any questions," he began, "I want to say this: No. 1, I apologize. I apologize for the start."

Singletary went on to say that Sunday's thrashing was actually good for him, that it taught him something as a coach, because he thought that the 49ers were ready for this game, that they had been working hard and practicing well and they would be able to go right out and change what ailed them during the four-game losing streak he inherited.

But Sunday's disintegration against a team the 49ers beat in Week 2 at Seattle – a game that featured more killer turnovers by quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan, 65 more yards of penalties and big touchdown plays allowed by the defense – told Singletary that simply is not the case.

And that's where it began to get good with Mike at the microphone after the game.

"I want you to understand where I'm coming from," Singletary said, his voice rising into a roar. "It WILL change. And it will change because (his players) want it to change, not because of me. It will change because they want to be champions."

And this is where it started to get really good. Singletary's booming voice now filled the room, a room packed with media to see his debut, and Singletary had a captivated audience on the edge of their seats. This was Singletary's Sunday sermon, and it was difficult not be entranced.

"But right now we've got to figure out the formula," Singletary continued, almost yelling. "Our formula. Our formula is this: We go out and hit people in the mouth – No. 1. Number two: We are NOT a charity. We cannot give them the game. That's No. 2. And No. 3 is we execute from the very start of the game to the very end of game. That did not happen."

That much was obvious.

Singletary stopped in mid-sentence after that, telling reporters he was ready to take questions. But after that performance, he was urged to continue with his spontaneous thoughts.

"No, no, no, no," Singletary responded. "You don't want me to go much further."

Actually, that was the way a lot of disgusted fans were feeling about the 49ers by the time this one was over.

O'Sullivan fumbled backwards for a 16-yard loss near his own goal line on the game's second play from scrimmage, and it didn't get a whole lot better for the 49ers from that point on.

The 49ers were able to recover that fumble and punt the ball away. But they couldn't recover from two O'Sullivan turnovers later in the first half, both of which led to Seattle scores and put the Seahawks in command to stay.

The first came midway through the opening quarter after the Seahawks had gone ahead 3-0 on a 43-yard Olindo Mare field goal, which came as a result of the good field position the Seahawks were given after O'Sullivan's first fumble pushed the 49ers all the way back to their 5-yard line.

O'Sullivan responded by leading the 49ers down the field, hitting Delanie Walker for a 53-yard catch-and-run, and a few plays later the Niners were looking at a second-and-5 from the Seattle 6.

But as O'Sullivan rolled right, he was caught from behind by Seattle linebacker Julian Peterson and didn't secure the football. The loose ball was picked up by Seattle's Patrick Kerney, who returned it 50 yards. That led to another Mare field goal.

The turning point, however, came late in second quarter when the 49ers trailed 13-3 and were driving to get back in the game.

The 49ers faced a fourth-and-4 situation at the Seattle 29, and instead of attempting a field goal that would have brought them within a touchdown at halftime, Singletary made his first big coaching decision and went for the first down.

O'Sullivan made him rue the decision, sending a pass to the left side intended for Arnaz Battle that instead found the eager hands of Seattle cornerback Josh Wilson, who returned the pick 75 yards for a shocking touchdown.

Just like that, Seattle had a 20-3 lead at halftime. Game over.

"The quarterback kind of eye-balled (Battle) and threw it a little bit behind him, and I just made the opportunity," Wilson said.

That was it for O'Sullivan, who finally was benched after throwing his 10th interception in five games. Backup Shaun Hill came in and played well in the second half, completing 15 of 23 passes for 173 yards for a 102.3 quarterback rating and leading the 49ers on two scoring drives.

But it wasn't nearly enough, even though the 49ers managed to out-gain Seattle 388-261 and had an eight-minute advantage in time of possession.

The Seahawks made sure of that by tacking on two second-half touchdowns on similar plays which featured breakdowns and poor tackling by the San Francisco defense.

Quarterback Seneca Wallace hit fullback Leonard Weaver with a short pass in the left flat late in the third quarter, and Weaver rumbled right through the San Francisco defense to turn it into a tackle-breaking 43-yard scoring play.

Weaver applied the coup de grace with six minutes to play after the 49ers had made it a 27-13 game on a two-yard touchdown pass from Shaun Hill to receiver Jason Hill.

Wallace scrambled away from pressure and found Weaver with another short pass to the left, and this time Weaver found the sideline, got a good block, then was gone on a sprint to the end zone that completed a 62-yard scoring play.

"They had some explosive plays," 49ers linebacker Manny Lawson said. "That's one of the things that we have to put down. I think we can stay with anybody if we can limit the explosive plays. Nickel and dimed here and there, if that's all, we can bounce back. But the explosive plays, they really hurt you. They kill you."

And so it was for the 49ers: New coach, same old getting creamed. At least Singletary sounded afterward like a coach who's going to make sure it gets corrected and doesn't happen again.


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