Niners reportedly to take interim tag off Singletary

Updated: December 25, 2008, 8:39 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Mike Singletary has been a remarkable short-term solution to the San Francisco 49ers' woes. With each passing week, the interim coach is looking more like the long-term fix, as well.

[+] EnlargeMike Singletary
Kyle Terada/US PresswireCoach Mike Singletary acknowledged meeting earlier in the week with the Niners' top officials about his future.

The Sacramento Bee is reporting that, according to a source close to the situation, the 49ers are planning to offer a multiyear contract to Singletary shortly after the team ends its season with Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins.

NFL teams cannot sign interim coaches during the season under the league's Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate, but the 49ers do not have to bring in more candidates if they are planning to take the interim tag off Singletary.

On Wednesday, Singletary acknowledged he had met with the team's top officials about his future earlier in the week. According to the Bee, Singletary laid out a plan for the 49ers that wowed the club's leadership.

"I will just say this: I don't interpret anything as … really good or really bad," said Singletary, whose club has won four of its past six games. "I think the most important thing is that I just continue to stay focused. After it's all said and done, we can look back at how positive things are, and our direction or whatever, and we can fully pay attention to it."

Team owners John and Jed York haven't responded to requests for comment on Singletary's situation, but they undoubtedly have noticed the 49ers' improved play -- along with the groundswell of Bay Area fan support for the Hall of Fame linebacker.

Singletary's players certainly are in their coach's corner.

"The way guys have responded to him and played for him says a lot," said quarterback Shaun Hill, who is 4-3 as a starter and has one of the NFL's best passer ratings since Singletary promoted him. "Those decisions aren't up to us, but we feel like we can turn the corner with what we have."

Singletary took over for Mike Nolan on Oct. 20, one day after San Francisco dropped to 2-5 with a loss at the Giants. The 49ers then lost the first two games of Singletary's tenure before the current surge, led by Hill's cool passing and a once-awful defense that has allowed fewer than 17 points in five of the past six games.

With a victory over Washington in Sunday's finale, the Niners could finish 7-9 to match their best record in six consecutive losing seasons since John York fired coach Steve Mariucci after a second-round playoff defeat.

If Singletary returns, most believe he'll have to find a new offensive coordinator -- San Francisco's seventh new face at the job in seven years.

Mike Martz, hired in January by Nolan in an effort to revitalize the NFL's worst offense in two of the previous three seasons, has breathed life into San Francisco's effort. But the former St. Louis head coach runs a pass-first scheme that doesn't seem to fit well with Singletary's belief in a run-oriented attack.

Martz acquiesced to Singletary's now-obvious promotion of Hill over Martz favorite J.T. O'Sullivan and bent his game plans to accommodate Singletary's desire for a sturdier running game. Although Martz and Singletary seem to get along well, both might be better off on their own.

"I think everything that I asked him to do, he made every attempt to do the things he needed to do," Singletary said when asked about Martz's future in San Francisco. "Going forward, I just feel that after the season, we have to sit down … and look at what gives us the best opportunity to win."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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