Singletary keeps 49ers fans guessing

The coach still is the coach, and why not? It wouldn’t do any good to get rid of Mike Singletary at this point. He has a sense of purpose, and at times a sense of humor. You go after him, and he’s right back at you, admirable even if his record is not.

He keeps us guessing. That’s the essence of the football mind, which distills everything to “us vs. them.” A change of quarterbacks? Plays designed specifically for Brian Westbrook?

“I’m not going to sit here and tell the media exactly what we’re going to do,” Singletary said, “so you can put that in the paper so [the opponent] can see it. I mean, I want you to understand it.”

What we do understand is the Niners are 24th in offense in the 32-team NFL. What we do understand is Frank Gore is out for the season. What we do understand is that’s a bad combination.

What we don’t understand is what Singletary believes he’ll accomplish by choosing to make the selection of his starting QB a “week-to-week thing.”

It looks more like a weak-to-weak thing, but when you change offensive coordinators and replace one Smith (Alex) with another Smith (Troy), then return to the first Smith, it’s difficult to be too critical. Or too effective.

What Singletary told journalists Monday, analyzing the loss to Green Bay, sounded almost like resignation. “I know in four weeks the season will be over,” he said of preparing for Seattle on Sunday.

Later he clarified the remark, explaining he was referring only to the regular schedule, which indeed lasts only four more weeks.

There’s not an ounce of surrender in the man, which is a strength. Nor, at times, does there seem to be an ounce of compromise — not at all a strength. Apparently he’s stopped taking the rumors and criticism personally, at least overtly.

To a ridiculous Internet report in which Jon Gruden’s son said his father is “headed to SF in 2012,” Singletary said he didn’t let it weigh on him “anymore than the stuff that anybody’s written in this room.”

Ooh, that hurts. Such a disloyal group of scribes by the Bay.

“I know that’s part of the job,” Singletary said. Especially when the job entails a 4-8 record. “I think one of the saddest things about our society today [is] anybody can say anything and write anything and have no responsibility. For me, everything I say, I’m responsible for.”

As the second-year, full-time coach, he’s also responsible for the Niners’ disappointing play, brought about in part by the former offensive coordinator, Jimmy Raye, whom Singletary hired and then earlier this season fired.

When asked how he can establish a standard when key elements are shifting — the failure to declare one quarterback the man, Raye’s departure — Singletary had a surprising answer.

“That’s what makes it exciting,” he said. “That’s why I feel so fortunate to do what I’m doing. I wake up, and I’ve got a situation every day that I have to deal with and solve issues and I’m thankful for that because the issues will get solved.”

Not, apparently, including the issue of how to turn the 49ers into winners. Anybody have a suggestion?

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. E-mail him at typoes@aol.com.

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