49ers must regroup in a hurry with Bears on deck
By JANIE McCAULEY AP Sports Writer
SANTA CLARA, Calif.(AP)—Only a month ago, the San Francisco 49ers sat alone in first place atop the NFC West standings and were thinking playoffs. And why not? They’d already beaten defending division champion Arizona and Seattle in consecutive weeks.
One quarterback switch, an offensive line overhaul and a four-game losing streak later, the Niners (3-5) are desperate to just get back to winning - period. And they have little time to stew over their sloppy 34-27 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday with the Chicago Bears coming to Candlestick Park on Thursday night.
“Obviously this is not the most exciting time in the world right now,” coach Mike Singletary said Monday. “I will not compromise. I hate losing, it’s as simple as that. No one loves losing, but I hate losing. Absolutely hate it, especially when you’ve got a team that can win.”
San Francisco has some serious work to do in order to end a franchise-worst streak of six straight losing seasons and get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2002 under former coach Steve Mariucci.
The Niners are three-point favorites to beat the Bears (4-4), the team that drafted Singletary in the second round in 1981. The Hall of Fame linebacker insists there are no added emotions for this game just because he’s facing his former organization.
He has more pressing matters to address. San Francisco committed four turnovers - leading to 24 points for Tennessee - and quarterback Alex Smith threw three interceptions, two in the final 6:24 of his first home start in more than two years.
Singletary, who took over for the fired Mike Nolan in October 2008, said his offense put together perhaps its best game since he’s been in charge but kept hurting the team’s chances with costly mistakes.
Smith looked like a poised NFL veteran at times Sunday and way off at others. He was 29 of 45 for 286 yards in his second start since taking over for demoted Shaun Hill(notes) at halftime of a 24-21 loss at Houston on Oct. 25. Smith was sacked four times, too.
He’s eager to get back on the field.
“It’ll be nice in a sense because you won’t have a lot of time to dwell on it,” Smith said.
The 49ers coaches planned to sit down and evaluate their receiving corps this week, with 16-year veteran Isaac Bruce’s(notes) diminished role sure to be discussed. Singletary sure didn’t make it sound as if Bruce was in the plans. Bruce, in his second season with the Niners after 14 in St. Louis, didn’t start Sunday for the second straight game and has only 20 catches for 244 yards.
Singletary sounded like a motivational speaker Monday while addressing the media on a day his players were off. When this thing does turn around, Singletary said, there will be more gratification from pulling out of such a slump.
He insists it’s during the most trying of times when he’s at his best. He still believes this team is a winner and can accomplish its goal of getting to the playoffs.
“I want to have all of you understand this: If you talk to me after a game and, nine times out of 10 if we lose the game, it’s very rare I will be sitting back and being philosophical or whatever. I’m going to be ticked. You can call it stress, you can call it whatever you want to call it. For me, it’s human. It’s just human.
“I’m a football coach,” he added. “And I’m real. What you see is what you get.”
“A lot of our guys in our locker room know that we can play,” Gore said. “We know what we can do on the field. It just comes down to two or three plays that really hurt us.”