Mike Singletary claims blame after loss
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Mike Singletary stepped up onto the podium, multiple pages of notes in hand, and accepted all the blame for San Francisco's shutout loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
And all the other problems on both sides of the ball along the way, too.
In fact, he acknowledged his coaching overall this season clearly hasn't been up to par considering the once-favored 49ers are 3-7 after an 0-5 start.
"Am I doing a good job? Obviously, at 3-7, no," Singletary said Monday. "I wouldn't even dare to say I'm doing a good job. But it's not over yet."
There is plenty of speculation about his job status and whether he will return in 2011. Owner John York and his team president son, Jed, have expressed their frustrations about the losing when hopes were so high for the franchise only a few months ago.
The Niners were embarrassed 21-0 at home by the Bucs on Sunday and allowed six sacks on quarterback Troy Smith, who will get a fourth straight start for next Monday night's game at Arizona.
Singletary said his team wasn't as prepared as it needed to be against Tampa Bay and did not make enough in-game adjustments. San Francisco was shut out at home for the first time since a 7-0 loss to Atlanta on Oct. 9, 1977.
"Whether it's the coach, the players, we're all in this together," tight end Vernon Davis said. "We started together so we have to end it together. We just have to keep moving forward."
The 49ers never reached the red zone, managed only 189 total yards and 11 first downs, and two of those first downs came via penalty. San Francisco had the ball for only 23 minutes, 36 seconds, to Tampa Bay's 36:24.
Just when this team had a chance to take a big step forward -- coming off three wins in four games and two in a row -- it went backward instead.
"The thing I want to say to you is I am very thankful to be the 49ers head coach. We're working to get where we need to be. Obviously we're not there. Yet," Singletary said in a long opening statement at his weekly news conference. "My job is to lead, to motivate and prepare to win football games. Did I lead yesterday? I think so. Did I motivate through the week? I think so. Did I prepare? Did we prepare? Our players? Obviously not as well as we should have. Because they didn't execute as well as they could have. And that's on us and that's on me as the head coach. ... Why we lost the game, that would be on me. That would be on me."
A week after throwing for 356 yards in a 23-20 overtime win over St. Louis, Smith was 16 for 31 for 148 yards -- and many times he just didn't have much chance because the offensive line didn't protect him.
San Francisco leads the NFL with 66 quarterback hits allowed. The 49ers are seventh in the league with 25 sacks, and 11 of those have come in the last two weeks.
Even after taking all those hits, Smith told the O-linemen he was sticking by them despite the rough day. Singletary credited the Bucs for effectively scouting Smith, forcing him out of his comfort zone and also pulling off some surprises on defense.
Smith, who came to the Niners in September as a third-stringer, took over as starter from Alex Smith for an Oct. 31 win over the Broncos in London -- a week after Alex Smith separated his non-throwing left shoulder. Alex Smith is healthy now, but Singletary is sticking with the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner out of Ohio State.
While Troy Smith appreciates Singletary publicly saying it's all his fault, the players don't necessarily agree. Smith said he was responsible for several of Sunday's sacks.
"I know three for sure were probably the quarterback holding the ball too long," offensive coordinator Mike Johnson said. "I thought the game plan was good. I do. But we didn't execute it well. That falls on me. Whatever it was, whether it was the volume, whether it was a detail that was missed, whatever it is, that has to get better."
All of the 49ers will say they have had their share of mistakes and missed chances this year. San Francisco fully expected to end a seven-year playoff drought, though there's still a long way to go to do that. Singletary said before the season he believed he had a playoff team, and that hasn't necessarily changed.
"That speaks volumes to what type of man he is to try to take the burden off of everybody else and put it on him," Smith said of Singletary. "But solely as a professional and as a man, you have to be able to step up and be accountable."
The 49ers can't afford another flop -- especially not on national TV on the road Monday night against the division rival Cardinals. Arizona and San Francisco both sit at 3-7, each with one fewer win than second-place St. Louis. The Seattle Seahawks lead the underachieving NFC West at an unimpressive 5-5.
Davis, for one, doesn't care much about the other teams' records but only that the Niners are still playing for something.
"This is the time to do it. We don't have any time to play around. We have to go," he said. "Whatever it is we can do, we need to do it."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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