Mike Singletary was in the news last week, both directly and indirectly.
The indirect link to Mike occurred via the Tampa Bay Bucs and their comical search last week to find OCs and DCs for their new coach’s staff. This had nothing to do with Singletary, since he wasn’t involved, but as one candidate after another turned down the offers or were refused permission to seek them, it brought back the woeful first month of Mike’s first days on the job as official Head Coach, after his mostly popular tenure as interim HC. A month that saw one coach after another pass on running Singletary’s offensive vision, and eventually finding only Jimmy Raye willing to do it.
Raye knew more about offense than Singletary will ever know, but his chief credentials were his willingness to carry out Mike’s plan and march straight into retirement as a result. As Singletary’s world began to collapse in year two, he put the blame on Raye by firing him, and Raye returned the favor by claiming the Good Soldier defense.
But the most direct link to our old linebacker head was the razing of Mt. Singletary at the 49ers practice field. Like many endings, this pile of dirt bit the dust rather ignominiously. It was removed to make room for a new road, somehow linked to the beginning stages of prep work for the new stadium. At least that was the official word. Privately, it might have been more like “Get that hunk of shit outta here.”
That hill and the Nutcracker drill will be forever linked to Singletary’s stewardship of the team, and nobody wants much to remember him. It might be fair to say, however, that the current team’s toughness owes itself in part to Singletary’s ways. Fairness is not a hot commodity in the blogosphere, but it deserves mention anyway.
“Fair” has come up lately regarding the contract that will soon be finalized between the 49ers and their QB Alex Smith. Some still cling to the belief that Alex has no value to any other team. Since no other team is going to get a chance to sign him or even make an offer, this is only a bogus, theoretical topic that gives Alex haters a chance to establish their own value for him, which is close to nothing. No surprise.
But the question of what to pay Smith and for how long has nothing to do with the money itself. Smith has plenty of money. His contract is about respect and team chemistry and confidence. If you treat your QB like he’s just some marginally talented, easily replaceable meat, it dents the all important family chemistry that Harbaugh has installed in the players. It also sends the message that ownership doesn’t believe in Smith, so why should a guy like Michael Crabtree. You can’t go into a season expecting to contend for a Super Bowl with a disrespected, lame duck QB.
Smith is a leader on this team. If you don’t treat your leaders right, you soon won’t have any leaders. Guys who can produce in the clutch, with the game on the line, don’t grow on trees. When you have one, and your team believes in him, you keep him. And you pay him accordingly. It has nothing to do with leverage or his fair market value.