Liotta: Singletary pushing all the right buttons

I simply can’t imagine what Mike Singletary can do for an encore this afternoon against the Seahawks.

The guy who doesn’t want to be the Niners’ story this year made as good a coaching move as there was last Sunday with 1:32 left in the third quarter and his defense reeling. Burning a timeout to bring the team together for a sideline refresher course is nowhere to be found in the handbook NFL coaches play out of.

The move was the equivalent to a baseball manager bringing in his closer to end a seventh-inning, bases-loaded jam.
Singletary decided, from his perspective, the Niners’ first game of the 2009 season was about to be decided, and he didn’t like the way the outcome looked.

On their previous possession, the Cardinals had driven 69 yards for their first touchdown of the game, and after a three-and-out for the Niners, here they came again. Three plays, 30 yards gained. Singletary had seen enough.

He called a timeout, said his piece, and, boy, did he get results.

The Niners’ defense regrouped and held Arizona to a field goal. The offense then marched 80 yards on 15 plays and scored on Frank Gore’s 3-yard touchdown reception. About a half hour later, the outcome was a victory.

Anybody have a coaching move that did better than that? Didn’t think so.

By no means will things be perfect for the Niners this season. They don’t have much margin for error, and they beat an Arizona team that looked like it missed last year’s offensive coordinator something fierce. But thanks to Singletary seizing the moment in their opener, the 49ers deserved a bounce in their step and a week of good feelings all around.

The only guy who could be bouncing higher than the Niners this week is the pitcher formerly known as Barry Zito, who has weathered a storm of criticism for his lack of results since donning a Giants uniform. Zito deserves a tip of the cap as baseball’s comeback player of the last two months. In his 12 starts dating back to July 18, Zito has compiled an ERA of 2.36, and seems short-changed with a 5-3 record during that span.

I hope former Cal QB Aaron Rodgers is also enjoying a well-deserved bounce in his step. It feels as if, finally, he’s exorcized the last wisps of the magic that was Brett Favre in Green Bay.

Random thoughts
Hey, baseball. Enough with the commemorative red hats. While they do look great on fans off the field, the idea of placing them on the heads of every player involved in the recent Dodgers-Giants series was not right. Looked like somebody was trying to throw a Christmas party. I was going to let that pass until I saw the referees clad in red-and-white stripes for Monday night’s Patriots-Bills game, and I knew the red hats had been outdone. It looked as if a Barber Shop quartet had been hired to referee a football game.

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at tliotta@sfexaminer.com.

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