Singletary had to win over assistants

The 49ers have won two games in a row entering Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins, but interim coach Mike Singletary said he is not motivated by the role of being the spoiler against a team tied atop the AFC East with a 8-5 record. And, he said, there is plenty of motivation for the 49ers despite being officially eliminated from the playoff picture.

The obvious goal for the 49ers is to finish on a five-game win streak to conclude the season with an 8-8 record. However, that is also getting ahead of themselves.

"Right now, we're just trying to get to 6-8," 49ers quarterback Shaun Hill said.

While Hill and Singletary are still trying to perform well enough to earn the permanent jobs with the 49ers in 2009, neither is saying it. Singletary said his approach is to just win the next game.

Singletary could become an attractive coaching candidate around the league, depending on how the 49ers end the season. He has already caused quite a stir in the NFL with his dynamic personality.

So, Singletary is not only coaching for the 49ers' job. His performance as coach is being watched around the league. He could be an attractive coaching candidate elsewhere, too.

"I'm really not auditioning," Singletary said. "I'm really not trying to show anyone anything. I'm doing what I love to do and that's all I can do. After that, let the film speak."

When Singletary was tabbed as the interim head coach in October after Mike Nolan was fired, he was viewed inside the 49ers as someone who was a long shot to earn the full-time job.

But he is quickly becoming a popular choice among 49ers fans and the San Francisco-area media. Many of his players have publicly supported his candidacy for the job. Sources said that the coaching staff was initially slow to warm to him. But now the staff is on board, too.

"But, then, they realized their best chance of returning was if Singletary gets the job," the source said.

Singletary said he never even considered the dynamic of winning over the coaching staff.

"The most important thing for me is I knew what I could do," Singletary said. "With much prayer, much, I guess, wisdom and day-to-day experience, I had a good feel for what I could do with them and with the players."

Singletary is still new to the business of coaching. This is only his sixth season as a coach, and he has never served as a coordinator. His critics wonder if the 49ers would be making the same mistake again if they were to hire a defensive head coach.

After all, Nolan was a defensive coach who was unable to establish any continuity on the offensive side of the ball with four offensive coordinators in four seasons.

Singletary might need to present a plan to the 49ers' hierarchy to show how he intends to maintain continuity on offense. He seems to have gotten along well with offensive coordinator Mike Martz, but it is unclear whether Martz would be willing to return for a full season under Singletary.

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The perception is that tight end Vernon Davis, selected No. 6 overall in the 2006 draft, has not lived up to expectations. While his receiving numbers are down, Davis' importance to the 49ers' offense is immeasurable, Singletary said.

"I don't know if there's ever been a tight end that can block better than Vernon Davis," Singletary said. "I mean, he did an exceptional job - it was outstanding.

"As a blocking tight end, for him to be on a defensive end, linebacker, I don't care who it was. He was on him, he was driving him, he was moving him and it wasn't like they didn't know he was coming. It was very impressive."

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Offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who reportedly was contacted for the position of San Diego State head coach, is no longer a candidate for the job, said a source close to Martz.

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When Singletary won his first game as interim head coach, he and his wife, Kim, drove to former coach Mike Nolan's house to deliver him the game ball.

"I just felt that everything that I had a chance to do since I've been head coach, a lot of it stemmed from Mike," Singletary said.

"Winning that first game was as much his as it was mine because of everything that he did and all of the time that he put into me teaching and conversations and all of the things we talked about. I wanted to make sure that I let him know that I am always indebted to him as a friend and as a mentor."

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Even if the 49ers wanted to hire Singletary as the permanent head coach now, they would have to wait until after the season concludes. The 49ers have recorded a 3-3 record since Singletary took over for fired Mike Nolan.

Teams are not required to follow the league's formal interviewing process before naming an interim coach. Therefore, Singletary was announced as interim coach on Oct. 20, just hours after Nolan was fired.

But the 49ers are required to "follow the mandatory interviewing process in choosing a new permanent head coach."

"To me, the guy that's supposed to be here, he'll be here," said Singletary.

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Running back Frank Gore is questionable with a left ankle sprain, so the 49ers might turn to veteran DeShaun Foster, who has been a forgotten man after signing a one-year deal as Gore's backup.

Foster has not produced much for the 49ers. He has carried 37 times on the season for just 78 yards. And he has six receptions for 71 yards. Foster has fumbled twice, losing one of them. When asked if he's concerned with Foster's ability to hold onto the ball, Singletary answered, "Absolutely. Yes, I am."

Singletary said he believes Foster is trying to do too much when he gets his hands on the ball. "Frank Gore is in all the time, and then DeShaun gets a chance and he wants to show, 'Hey, I can do this,'" Singletary said.

If Gore is out of Sunday's game, the 49ers might promote running back Thomas Clayton from the practice squad.

PLAYER NOTES

--- LB Parys Haralson leads the 49ers with seven sacks on the season. Haralson has started seven of the team's 13 games. He has 42 tackles and 27 quarterback pressures.

--- WR Isaac Bruce is coming on strong in the past three games, as he has overtaken running back Frank Gore for the team lead with 45 receptions on the season. Bruce ranks third all-time with 14,803 receiving yards, and fifth in lifetime receptions with 987.

--- NT Aubrayo Franklin has been more productive in recent weeks, as he said he feels stronger after dropping 15 pounds in the offseason. Franklin has 63 tackles on the season with four quarterback pressures on the season.

--- WR Josh Morgan is not listed on the 49ers' injury report for the first time since sustaining a groin strain on Nov. 10. Morgan will have to win back his starting job from veteran Bryant Johnson, who played well in Morgan's absence.

--- QB Shaun Hill has performed very well whenever given a chance. In his career, which consists of seven starts, Hill has completed 64.6 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and five interceptions. His career passer rating is 97.3.


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