Singletary doesn't expect as much drama after Niners' next game

Updated: October 28, 2008, 1:09 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Mike Singletary realizes a public apology for his team's poor play and his postgame trashing of tight end Vernon Davis were the most memorable highlights of the San Francisco 49ers' sorry season.

Just don't expect the interim coach's next postgame news conference to be as entertaining as his animated debut.

"Maybe I'll drink a little more water," Singletary said Monday. "Maybe I'll breathe a little bit."

After a day to cool down from the 49ers' 34-13 loss to Seattle, Singletary was ready to have a calm discussion with Davis, whose reaction to a personal-foul penalty drove Singletary to banish the tight end from the field.

"Vernon is not a problem guy," Singletary said. "Vernon just forgets sometimes that the team is more important."

And after benching J.T. O'Sullivan shortly before halftime in favor of Shaun Hill, Singletary could have a quarterback controversy heading into the Niners' next game at Arizona on Nov. 10. So Monday he named Hill the starter.

But Singletary won't attack San Francisco's myriad problems by changing his style, which got wide public attention Sunday for the first time since the Hall of Fame linebacker retired after the 1992 season.

That's good news for 49ers fans who thought Singletary's frank, creative assessments of the 49ers' shortcomings were a welcome change for a franchise that's been among the NFL's dullest outposts for the past half decade under Dennis Erickson and Mike Nolan.

"I don't talk a whole lot, but when I am talking, I do know what I feel, and I do know what I want to say," Singletary said. "I don't ever want to come in there and be a philosopher, an analytical [person]. That's not who I am. What you see now is what I am, and that's not going to change any time soon."

While his predecessor usually wore expensive dress shirts and tailored pants to his Monday television appearances, Singletary showed up in khaki cargo pants and a T-shirt, looking less like a hedge fund manager and more like a drill sergeant on his day off.

Although fans still don't know whether Nolan's coaching protégé can fix the 49ers (2-6) on the field, compliments for Singletary's passion and straightforward style poured in from talk radio, the blogosphere and even the Candlestick Park fans who got Singletary's firsthand apology after the game.

Singletary won't lose the fervor that made him a well-paid motivational speaker before he got into coaching, but he hopes his team will give him much less reason to be furious when it returns from the bye week.

Singletary hasn't decided whether Davis will be back in his starting lineup after the pair's public blowup on the sideline. Davis got a questionable personal-foul penalty for tapping Seattle's Brian Russell on the face mask after a third-quarter catch, but Singletary got really steamed when Davis shrugged his shoulders at Singletary when he was yanked off the field.

Davis is a well-known hothead who frequently gets into scraps with teammates during practice, yet he's usually calm and repentant the moment he removes his helmet. Singletary didn't care, ordering Davis to sit on the bench and then sending him to the showers at the next timeout.

"I didn't expect him to come at me the way he did," Davis said Monday. "I guess that's his way of coaching."

Davis and Singletary finally had a talk Monday afternoon, although Davis said he mostly listened. Davis said he also didn't talk back on the field to Singletary, who suggested Davis wasn't a team player during his news conference.

"I know that I'm a team guy," Davis said. "I asked him about the comment he made. He basically said he didn't mean that. … I'd never do anything to hurt my teammates or put them in trouble. It's about the team, and when you're playing this game, we've really got to lean on each other."

Singletary knows Davis possesses a measure of passion the Niners' coach showed during his playing days with the Chicago Bears, but without the mental awareness that made Singletary among the best to ever play his position.

"Vernon is not a guy who doesn't come to practice," Singletary said. "You have to tell Vernon, 'That's enough. Don't hurt the guy. That's your teammate.' He works his tail off. You don't have a problem with Vernon that way. What you have a problem with is with some of the decisions he makes at crucial times."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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