My Best Theory: Niners need new coach
Now that Week 6 of this NFL season is in the books, I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate the San Francisco 49ers on their first win of the season. If you've been following my previous posts, you probably pick up on that this first sentence is most likely dripping with sarcasm.
While I've been noting that the 2010 season has been a roller coaster for all Arizona Cardinals fans, it's been a straight up disaster for the 1-5 49ers, the team that was presumed by many to be the Cardinals' fiercest competition for the top spot in the NFC West.
I won't lie, it's been a treat to watch the early season collapse of the team that has become the Cards' bitterest rival.
With that said, I'm just as surprised as anyone that the 49ers have played so poorly. On paper, it's hard to deny they have the most talent in the NFC West. They have arguably the best running back in the division. They have a talented defense. They've upgraded their offensive line. Alex Smith, while not the caliber of a Drew Brees or Philip Rivers, is a solid quarterback who played well last year.
For the 49ers, it seems that all the pieces are in place, so why the disparity between what's on paper and current division standings?
My theory is that the 49ers head coach, Mike Singletary, is not a good head coach. He was an amazing player and an inspirational figure, but he lacks the steady hand to guide his group of highly-talented players. He's overly emotional and doesn't instill a calm steadiness in his team. He doesn't understand how to deal with the media, often allowing them to get under his skin and acting overly defensive.
There's no doubt that Singletary is passionate. After all, that is what made him one of the best middle linebackers in the history of the league.
Who could forget the shots of Singletary peering into offensive backfields with that wide-eyed stare?
But being an amazing player doesn't necessarily translate to being an amazing coach. And come to think of it, it's a rarity.
Something about being one of the all-time greats as a player seems to be an obstacle to being a great coach. The best coaches seem to be the ones who played in the middle of the pack or not at all.
As a result, they have the patience to develop men to become better because they themselves were never blessed with the kind of talent that separates the all-time greats.
Just think of the all-time great coaches in the NFL and you'll find that few of them had Hall of Fame talent. Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Tom Landry, Bill Walsh, George Halas, Bill Belichick, Chuck Noll and I could go on and on.
And as a Phoenix resident, the recent attempt by "The Great One," Wayne Gretzky, to coach the Phoenix Coyotes is another example of why greatness in the game rarely translates to greatness on the sideline.
Fortunately for Singletary, the season is fairly young, and he still has a chance to prove guys like me wrong. I sure hope not but I think I can rest easy with the long history of bad coaches who were great players on my side of the scale.
Zach Lind of Jimmy Eat World (Facebook | MySpace | Twitter), who are one of ESPN's featured artists of October, will be writing periodic blog entries for ESPN.com's Music in The Life. Jimmy Eat World -- which includes lead vocalist and guitarist Jim Adkins, guitarist Tom Linton and bassist Rick Burch -- is currently touring in support of their new album, "Invented" (iTunes | Amazon).
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