The San Francisco 49ers fired head coach Mike Singletary on Dec. 26, just a few hours after the team’s 25-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams. Team officials met following the game to decide whether to fire Singletary immediately or wait until the end of the season to replace him. The fiery coach was shown in a heated argument with quarterback Troy Smith along the 49ers’ sidelines after Smith threw an interception and was later pulled for former starter Alex Smith. Singletary had been shifting both quarterbacks in and out as starters routinely over the last few weeks in a desperation move to give San Francisco (5-10) a spark.

After finishing last season at 8-8, expectations were high for the 49ers to make their first postseason appearance since 2002. But the club got off to a 1-6 start behind poor quarterback play and late game collapses—four of the team’s first six losses were by three points or less. Singletary, hired in 2008 as a replacement coach for the fired Mike Nolan, had created a reputation as a highly animated coach during his short tenure with the team. He pulled his pants down during halftime of one game to demonstrate how poorly he felt his team was playing. He ejected tight end Vernon Davis, one of the team’s prize first round selections, from a game early after citing his unhappiness with Davis’ work ethic. Singletary often lashed out in press conferences and appeared to lose control of the team as their season spiraled out of control.

San Francisco will appoint defensive line coach Jim Tomsula as interim coach for the team’s season finale against Arizona. After learning upon his release, Singletary issued the following:

“One of the greatest experiences of my life was having the opportunity to coach the San Francisco 49ers. What made it so special were the players. They were some of the most outstanding men I have ever been around in my life. The coaches were truly professionals. I wish the 49ers nothing but the best. I am thankful to the York family for having given me the opportunity to be a head coach in the NFL. I am indebted to them for that. I am also thankful for the faithful fans, I am just sorry I couldn’t give them more.”


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO