SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Mike Singletary ended his head coaching debut by apologizing to 49ers fans above the locker room tunnel. Tight end Vernon Davis got sent to the showers like a petulant teenager, J.T. O’Sullivan was benched after his 11th fumble of the season, and the San Francisco defense let a 242-pound fullback catch two long touchdown passes.
And to think, the Seattle Seahawks actually wondered if they were the biggest mess in the NFC West.
Leonard Weaver rambled for scores of 62 and 43 yards on short passes from Seneca Wallace, while Josh Wilson returned an interception 75 yards for another TD on Sunday in the Seahawks’ 34-13 victory over Singletary’s feuding, bumbling Niners.
Sure, the Seahawks (2-5) are off to a dismal start in coach Mike Holmgren’s final season, but Weaver and Wilson led a series of big plays to end their three-game losing streak. Holmgren thought much of Seattle’s success was simply a matter of staying cool while the 49ers melted down.
“We had a different attitude going into the week,” said Wallace, who passed for 222 yards in his third career victory as a starter. “Mike started that when he came out and said we’re just going to play football and let it all hang out. You could see the difference in us today. We had a little juice, a little life when we came out.”
The 49ers (2-6) lost their fifth straight game in a chaotic debut for Singletary, who took over after Mike Nolan was fired last Monday.
The Hall of Fame linebacker couldn’t fix a porous defense just yet, but he immediately put his stamp on the club by pulling O’Sullivan after three turnovers. Singletary then made an even more dramatic statement when he ordered Davis off the field and into the locker room after the hotheaded tight end got a personal foul for slapping a Seattle player’s helmet late in the third quarter— and then pretended not to know why Singletary was mad.
“I will not tolerate players that think it’s about them when it’s about the team,” Singletary said. “We cannot make decisions that cost the team, and then come off the sideline and it’s nonchalant. No. … I’d rather play with 10 people and just get penalized all the way until we have to do something else rather than play with 11 when I know that right now that person is not sold out to be a part of this team.”
Singletary yelled at the former No. 6 overall pick in full view of his teammates, commanding Davis to sit on the bench and then ordering him to the locker room at the next timeout.
“I told him that he would do a better job for us right now taking a shower and coming back and watching the game than going out on the field, simple as that,” Singletary said.
Davis waved his helmet at Candlestick Park’s thousands of empty seats as he left. He tried to speak with Singletary after the game, but the coach said he was still too hot to hold that conversation.
“I don’t think I did anything wrong,” Davis said. “If the coach thinks I did something wrong, I have to listen to him. He’s the boss. … I didn’t know what was going on. I already know about Coach Singletary. He wants to win, and he’s a hard-working guy. he won’t tolerate anything.”
Nothing nearly as exciting happened for the Seahawks, although Weaver’s improbable catch-and-runs were close. Weaver, a college tight end with just six previous catches this season, scored both of Seattle’s second-half touchdowns, including the clinching score on that 62-yard run down the Seahawks’ sideline with 6:10 to play.
“My first obligation is to block, (and) my second obligation is to block,” Weaver said. “All I know is if they throw you a bone, you’ve got to grab it. … I never knew I could run that fast.”
Despite Singletary’s reputation for fiery motivational speeches, the Niners came out with little passion early—and thanks mostly to O’Sullivan’s mistakes, the Seahawks had a 20-3 halftime lead with just 111 yards of offense. O’Sullivan fumbled on San Francisco’s first two possessions and threw that crushing fourth-down interception to Wilson before getting benched in favor of Shaun Hill, the longtime backup who led the 49ers to two wins late last season.
“I was disappointed,” O’Sullivan said. “I think you’re always surprised. You’re so into the moment of trying to compete and put yourself in a situation to be successful. It’s the last thing you’re thinking about.”
San Francisco lost TE Delanie Walker, WR Arnaz Battle, RT Barry Sims and kick returner Allen Rossum to injuries. Sims was on crutches with a walking boot on his left foot, while Walker thinks his injured elbow will be fine. … Seattle DE Patrick Kerney, who hurt his left shoulder, returned O’Sullivan’s second fumble 50 yards. … Wallace made his sixth career start in place of Matt Hasselbeck, who sat out another week with his back problems.