Singletary scintillating during SOTF speech

He walked onto the stage Monday to a raucous standing ovation and left to the same response from a crowd of 49ers Faithful. In between, Mike Singletary gave the team's ticket holders a dose of inspiration that illustrated why he's brought such hope to the team. "I'm ready to run through a brick wall," team president Jed York said after listening to his coach. Several others present felt the same.

There is something about Singletary that is simply mesmerizing once he gets in front of a crowd of people that care about 49ers football. To be sure, Singletary now is one of those people – and it's not difficult to believe that he, as head coach of the team, might now care about it more than anybody.

While York, chief operating officer Andy Dolich and general manager Scot McCloughan also spoke during the 49ers first State of the Franchise address at the San Mateo Performing Arts Center, Singletary was the main attraction, and that's why the program saved him for last among the speakers.

Before they were introduced by master of ceremonies Ted Robinson, the team's new radio play-by-play voice, Singletary was backstage with York, and the team president noticed his coach did not have any notes with him to take onto the stage.

"I'll know what I'm going to say once I get out there," Singletary told York.

"That's somebody that's a true leader," York said. "He can feel the crowd. He can feel whatever the pulse is of the team and make sure he's saying the things to get people inspired. You can't help but be motivated and inspired when you hear him speak."

And so it was for the approximately 1,200 ticket holders who braved stormy weather in the Bay Area to make it to the sold-out event.

While all other speakers addressed the crowd from a podium near the front of the stage, Singletary took an unplugged microphone and stood in the center of the stage to speak to a crowd that gave him a nearly minute-long standing ovation when he was introduced.

Singletary prefaced his remarks by telling fans he wanted to give them a better idea of what the 49ers are trying to do and where they are going. He began with a history lesson.

"This whole thing started in 1946, and there were some good teams and there were some OK teams," Singletary said as the crowd applauded loudly to the reference of the team's beginnings. "But I'm going to fast forward to 1977, to Edward DeBartolo Jr. When I think about this organization, I'm amazed at the history. I'm amazed at the vision of Mr. DeBartolo."

Singletary was setting the foundation for his message. He went on to talk of the wisdom of DeBartolo's hiring in 1979 of Bill Walsh as head coach and team architect, explaining how Walsh was a man blessed with football intelligence and values who had a vision that he brought to the franchise.

"When you look at that history," Singletary said, "when you look at the tradition, it all started because one man had a vision of winning one (Super Bowl) and what it would look like, and then it happened."

Singletary went on, starting to get to the heart of his message: "When I look around the NFL, I'm amazed at how many people have a dream and how few have a vision. And there's a distinct difference between the two.

"When you have a dream, a dream just kind of comes and goes, a dream is something you think about, ‘What it would be like if we could do this.' ‘Wouldn't it be great if we could get the right players, wouldn't it be great if we could get the right coaching, wouldn't it be great if we had the right surroundings' ... But then it never happens. That's a dream.

"But a vision ... That's something different. A vision is something that captures the imagination, a vision is something that consumes you like a fire. It won't let you eat. It won't let you sleep. It won't let you do or think about anything else until that vision comes to pass."

Singletary had everybody's attention now. The occasional fan hollered in support of Singletary's words every now and then as if this was some kind of revival.

"I stand before you today just to have you understand that the 49ers of 2009 will have a vision," Singletary said. "And I want you to know that I do not come tonight to motivate you to go out and buy tickets. I did not come tonight to impress you with the history. The reason I know is because it's important to me. It's very important to me. Winning is important to me."

Singletary then began to get a little deeper with his message, explaining how the 49ers intend to go about instilling the vision into their players so that they all see it the same.

"Those guys that we're coaching," Singletary said, "before they become winners, they have to be men.

"It's all about (general manager) Scot (McCloughan) and his staff getting the right people here, then the next step comes, and that is making sure that once you have those young men – many who have no idea what it is to build something great, something bigger than themselves – and to bring those guys in with what you already have and you have them understnad that first and foremost it's about a work ethic, a work ethic that lot of young men today don't really know about or don't really understand. I'm talking about a work ethic that they've never seen."

Singletary has seen it, and he knows all about strong work ethic. He relayed the story of watching his mother and father working hard all their lives to support their family, how his father would come home after working all day and fall asleep at the dinner table.

"So when we get out there (on the practice field) for a couple of hours and the guys stick around with me and say, ‘Hey coach, that was a great practice right?' I'm, ‘No. No. No.' We're going to get this right. We're going to do it over and over until it's right."

You have to understand that Singletary spent years as a motivational speaker before he got into coaching. So he was working the crowd into a lather by now.

"Then you have to look at respect," Singletary continued. "Young men that understand how to respect themselves, how to respect their teammates and their coaches – even the officials. And it's important they respect the game.

"When I was in the game, I had tremendous respect for the game, because this game has afforded me so many wonderful things in my life, afforded me the opportunity to grow up and buy my mother a house and take care of her for the rest of her life, it afforded me the opportunity to be part of a great group of young men and do something that I never could have done by myself. It afforded me the opportunity to stay a kid for just a few more years. There is no place like the locker room after a win in the National Football League. You'll never see it again. But respect is huge."

And then Singletary talked about teamwork. Really, teamwork is what he had been talking about all along, but this time he talked about his teaming with other 49ers officials above the team the 49ers ultimately will put on the field in 2009.

"It is important, as I look forward, the job that stands before me," Singletary said. "And I am so excited. But I would be afraid if I had to do it alone. I've got a great coaching staff, great supporting cast with Jed, Dr. (John) York, Scot McCloughan, Andy Dolich, (vice president of communications) Lisa Lang – all of these people working together.

"If it was just me, then I would be shaking in my boots. But we're a team like that, communicating, being on the same page, working together, talking the same language, and we will get there. We will get there."

Singletary then stopped, staring into the crowd and praising them for braving the inclement weather to make it to the event just because they wanted to know more about their favorite team."

"I wish I could get a little more excited," said Singletary, known for dramatics when his excitement level is raised, "but I'm not going to go there."

The crowd responded to that by applauding loud and long, again rising to their feet. They didn't need to see Singletary go there. They'd already just seen it.

Niners Digest Top Stories