Around the NFC West: Singletary gone awry

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' lopsided defeat to the Falcons exposed their shortcomings and their head coach's shortcomings in particular. The 49ers suffered from poor game management. The rah-rah stuff has its limitations as well. Calling timeouts to gather players and rally them loses its effect the more it's done, particularly once it does not work. Ratto: "The 49ers are better than the rest of the NFC West, but they are still capable of comprehensive nest-foulings like this. Played 100 times, Falcons-49ers would end up an Atlanta win a good 70 percent of the time, maybe more. We mention this because Singletary didn't cost the team a victory by having this 1983 flashback. We mention it only because, like his team, he just went through what the social scientists call a 'growth opportunity,' and what stern parents used to call 'a good reason to use the belt.'" The 49ers are indeed 3-0 against the NFC West. I'm not sure it's a given they're the best team in the division, however.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says Singletary is the best thing to happen to the 49ers in 10 years, but not perfect. Kawakami: "I have a feeling we're going to see Singletary square up on an opponent more than occasionally. Sometimes it will inspire his players; sometimes, like Sunday, it will just look like he's spinning out of control. He is never going to be on an even keel. Neither will the 49ers." Their quarterback needs to be on an even keel most of the time. Shaun Hill wasn't Sunday.

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Singletary's behavior was symptomatic of "losing behavior" by a coach. Singletary admitted to mismanagement when he failed to save a timeout, preventing him from challenging a call. Worse, the timeout he used in an attempt to rally the team precipitated a 31-yard Falcons touchdown pass. Cohn: "Praise Singletary for his taking the blame. He seems like a man of quality. That doesn’t absolve him from how he coached. He likes the role of orator but sometimes he needs to back off. He sure needed to back off against Atlanta."

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says Michael Lewis' third concussion since August is a troubling development for the 49ers. Crumpacker: "The NFL is starting to take the issue of concussions seriously after years of seemingly being content to have others laugh it off as a man 'getting his bell rung.' It's a man getting his brain rattled inside his cranium, is what it is." Lewis is 29 years old. He should have a few more seasons left to play, but repeated concussions could threaten his career.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers cornerback Dre Bly was unapologetic after showboating might have contributed to a fumble. Bly: "Like I say, I'm going to be me. That's who I've been my whole life. That's who I was in college. I have fun. Dre's gonna be Dre."

Also from Barrows: The 49ers' limitations on offense start up front. Barrows: "There are a lot of reasons the 49ers were walloped -- and I mean totally eviscerated -- by the Falcons on Sunday. Stupidity and hubris are two of them. Turnovers, penalties, poor tackling and puzzling timeouts are others. But all those things are aberrations. The 49ers are usually a disciplined team with a very good defense. They are not the awful team the final score suggests. But they are not a very good team, either, and here's why: They have rested the entire success of their offense -- and by extension the team -- on the offensive line, and the offensive line is bad. It's like deciding to become a professional singer when you have a lousy voice. There's only so far you can go." The 49ers' conservative approach offensively does reflect feelings about their line, not just about Hill.