Following the lead of former HC and mentor Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary pretty much tossed Alex Smith under the bus this past week. Both times Smith has gotten these tread marks, it was after incurring a shoulder separation. And both times, Smith’s personna was more the reason given for the heaveorino than his QB skills. Nolan panned his guts and Singletary panned his leadership.
And both times, the coach was presiding over a failing empire of his own making. Neither Singletary nor Nolan had a viable backup QB. Nolan refused to recognize this problem, but Singletary took one peep at it and immediately went to Plan C. Nolan did not go to Plan C until Plan B eventually also got injured and was forced out of action. Singletary also replaced his OC, whereas Nolan merely diluted his OC’s power.
Each coach, however, refused to blame himself. In Nolan’s defense, the initial blame goes to that scoundrel, Norv Turner, but in Singletary’s case, the blame is almost entirely his own. Nolan did not meddle in the offense nor impose any particular style. Singletary has practically made his offensive philosphy a Brand Name. I’m surprised he hasn’t patented the phrase: “Physical With an F.” Perhaps because someone else would patent the phrase “Phailure With a P.”
Singletary’s useless backup, David Carr, has turned out to be an odd duck. He apparently has no supporters among the coaches or his teammates. This week, he Tweeted some biblical verses about people who are persecuted and eventually prevail. Of course, a cynic might point out to Mr. Carr that it’s not persecution — it’s a failure to perform. Probably even a non-cynic could point this out to him, actually. Maybe his Mom should tell him. Maybe she already has. That would explain it.
Nolan’s useless backup, Trent Dilfer, was a lot like Singletary in a way. A whole lot of rah-rah and not much meat. He and another 49er backup, one who really was a viable backup, Steve Young, are now expert commentators — expert at saying one thing one year and another the next. Somewhat like politicians. Or blog hosts. Dilfer probably needs the money, but Young just can’t get off the stage. One might get the sense Young feels like he’ll at least have a longer NFL life than Joe Montana, if not a more revered one.
Meanwhile, standing at the back of the locker room along with Carr (and asking for some of those bible verses) is good old hard working methodical Mr. Smith, no doubt ruefully scratching his stubble. Has there ever been a more curious career than his? Will it get even more curious? Or has his six year membership with the team finally fizzed out? There aren’t a whole lot fans left in the Bay Area who have any empathy, sympathy, or anything elseathy left for this guy.
The emergence of Troy Smith has also put a hole in the Nate Davis boat. Sporting virtually the same tools as Nate, Troy managed to get on the field and perform without any training camp, previous reps, or mastery of the play book. In doing so, he managed to derail the careers of three QBs. Not a bad feat.
For now, anyway. Troy could come out and throw four picks against the Rams and get the team beaten at home, putting the last nail in the 2010 coffin of state. Then what does Singletary do? He’s now publicly crapped on the three other QBs, so he’s probably got no choice but to stubbornly finish out the season with Troy at the helm, even if he stinks it up.
Singletary is all in now, betting on filling an inside straight. It can happen. But the odds ain’t too good.