Martz just didn't fit Singletary's style

Now that Mike Singletary has taken over as the permanent head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, he has a lot on his plate. The first order of business for Singletary is to find an offensive coordinator to take over for Mike Martz, whom he fired on Tuesday.

On the outside, Singletary and Martz appeared to have a symbiotic relationship. Martz helped the first-time head coach by taking complete control of the 49ers offense. Martz adapted well to what Singletary wanted to see from the 49ers on the offensive side of the ball.

But Martz is known for his high-flying offensive approach. And it was clear that Singletary, a Hall of Fame linebacker from his days with the Chicago Bears, prefers a more conservative offensive approach.

"I believe he will be an outstanding head coach in the National Football League," Martz said of Singletary. "I wish him nothing but the best. I am not what he is looking for offensively. I understand that. This is just a part of professional sports."

Singletary was named 49ers head coach in the moments after the 49ers' season-ending victory over the Washington Redskins. With Singletary, the 49ers finished the season with five victories in their final seven games.

"I think they've got the right man for the job," 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said. "I'm glad he got the job. He deserved it. He earned it."

The 49ers made it official shortly after the game, as team president Jed York announced Singletary as the next head coach in the locker room.

"If you know which way you're going, get it done," 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan said.

"He showed that there was a change, but he was able to adjust to the change, step right in and not really skip a beat. The players around him stepped up. The coaches around him stepped up as well. We ended strong, but it's not close to where we need to get. With coach Singletary, we feel that's not going to be an issue."

Now, Singletary just has to find a coordinator to take charge of the offense and build on what Martz began this season.

Former 49ers coach Mike Nolan hired Martz in January 2008 to bring some energy to the team.

Under Martz, the 49ers improved from No. 32 in the league in passing yards to No. 18. The 49ers' scoring increased by more than 100 points, as the club rose from last in the league in scoring to No. 22.

Singletary, whose four-year, $10 million contract as head coach includes the power to hire and fire assistant coaches, said in a statement he said he felt it was best to go in a different direction.

"I do recognize the need for a long-term solution on the offensive side of the ball," Singletary said.

Next season, the 49ers will have their seventh offensive coordinator in seven years, following Greg Knapp, Ted Tollner, Mike McCarthy, Norv Turner, Jim Hostler and Martz.

Singletary will likely seek an experienced offensive coordinator to run the style of offense he prefers, someone along the lines of former St. Louis Rams coach Scott Linehan.

After Singletary took over as the interim coach, he and Martz met regularly to discuss offensive philosophy. In his first game, Singletary benched quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan and replaced him with backup Shaun Hill.

With Hill at quarterback, the 49ers started to employ an offense that stressed the run game, along with higher-percentage passes. While their offensive approaches might have been different, Singletary and Martz appeared to benefit from each other's influence.

"Mike is a good man and a good coach," Martz said. "I looked forward to coming back here, but I understand the situation."

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Hill made a convincing argument for the full-time starting job with his play in the second half of the season. The 49ers were 5-3 with him as a starter, a record that included disappointing last-second losses at Arizona and Miami.

His 87.5 passer rating was the best for a 49ers starting quarterback since Jeff Garcia went to the Pro Bowl in 2001 after compiling a 94.8 rating. But Hill has been given no assurances that he'll return as the starter.

"I don't know what to think, to be honest with you. I really don't," Hill said. "You really never know really what the perception is. I feel like I definitely played hard. Sometimes it wasn't as good as I wanted it to be, but everyone in this league has those moments."

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While the 49ers offense showed a lot of improvement this season, Mike Martz said he expected more.

"We should be a top-10 offense," Martz said. "I feel that we're either a top-10 offense or I failed."

And why did the 49ers fall short?

"There were a lot of reasons, but that's for another day," Martz said.

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Tight end Vernon Davis saw his production drop from 52 receptions in 2007 to 31 catches this season. But he said he feels satisfied that he did what was asked of him. After all, he did a lot more blocking than in the past.

"I'm pretty much happy with what I did," Davis said. "I helped in run blocking and pass protection. I helped the team."

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Veteran linebacker Takeo Spikes, who signed a one-year contract with the 49ers in training camp, made it known that he wants to return to the 49ers in 2009.

Spikes said he believes the 49ers are close to turning the corner, and he wants to be part of the transformation to a playoff team.

"It's not like we need a lot," Spikes said. Then he added a few words directed to general manager Scot McCloughan: "Bring me back."

"I feel like this is home," Spikes said. "And I feel there is unfinished business."

Spikes said he has never regretted leaving a team in his career. He has played with the Bengals, Bills and Eagles. But, he said, this is different.

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QUOTE TO NOTE: "The first paragraph on that page is what we have to do to get the team in the playoffs. Once we're in the playoffs, anything is possible." -- Coach Mike Singletary, on his statement that everybody in the organization has to get on the same page.

COACHING CAROUSEL: The 49ers hired Mike Singletary to a four-year, $10 million contract immediately following the team's final game of the season on Sunday against the Washington Redskins. Singletary compiled a 5-4 record after taking over for fired Mike Nolan. But the 49ers won five of their final seven games to finish the season with a lot of optimism. Mike Martz has been fired as offensive coordinator, so Singletary will have to find a suitable replacement. One logical selection might be former St. Louis Rams head coach Scott Linehan. Also let go was quarterbacks coach Ted Tollner and running backs coach Tony Nathan.

FREE AGENT UPDATE: There are no players scheduled for free agency on whom the 49ers would consider using a franchise tag. Takeo Spikes did a very good job this season after signing a one-year deal. He expressed a desire to return to the 49ers next season to play alongside Patrick Willis. The 49ers will likely want him back. Receiver Bryant Johnson played well, but the club is looking to push youngster Josh Morgan into a more significant role. Johnson might find a better opportunity elsewhere. Among the 49ers' other free agents that they would like to sign for the right price are players such as running back DeShaun Foster, return specialist Allen Rossum, defensive tackle Ronald Fields, cornerback Donald Strickland and pass rusher Roderick Green.

FEELING A DRAFT: The 49ers own the No. 10 overall pick. They will pick No. 10 in all the odd-numbered rounds, and No. 11 in the even-numbered rounds. The 49ers expect to also gain two compensatory picks, giving them nine total draft picks.

TEAM NEEDS
Pass rusher:
Whether it's at outside linebacker or defensive end, the 49ers need to find at least one more player on defense to put pressure on quarterbacks.
Free safety: The 49ers' starting safety, Mark Roman, has not recorded an interception in more than two seasons. The 49ers need a presence in the secondary to generate turnovers.
Offensive tackle: While Joe Staley looks to be a pretty good player at left tackle, the 49ers need to find a more reliable player to take over at right tackle.
Wide receiver: The 49ers like what they saw late in the season from youngsters Josh Morgan and Jason Hill. But they can use another playmaker at this spot.

MEDICAL WATCH
--- QB Alex Smith underwent surgery to clean out his right shoulder. He went on injured reserve early in the season with a small fracture. He expects to be fully healthy for the start of the 49ers' offseason program, but it is not known whether he will still be with the team. Smith will have to accept a large pay cut to remain with the 49ers.
--- WR Arnaz Battle ended the season on injured reserve with a badly sprained foot. He should be ready to take part in all the team's offseason activities.
--- CB Shawntae Spencer went on injured reserve with a torn ACL. He will have a limited offseason program, but should be at full strength by the start of training camp. Spencer was the 49ers' No. 3 cornerback when he went down with his injury.
--- RB Frank Gore missed most of the final four games of the season with an ankle sprain. He said his surgeon in Miami will check out his condition, but he is expecting a full recovery in the next several weeks.
--- WR Josh Morgan sustained a torn groin muscle in the middle of the season. Although he returned to action, he never returned to 100 percent health. He figured to take three weeks of rest to get back healthy.



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