In a move that could not have come as a surprise to anyone, the San Francisco 49ers have informed head coach Mike Singletary that he is fired, according to multiple Bay Area sources. Both Adam Schefter of ESPN and Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network confirmed Sunday with team owner Jed York that the team would be hiring a new general manager after the end of the season, and that the new GM was likely going to be in charge of hiring a new head coach. However, it was expected by most that Singletary would finish out the season.
After the 49ers' 25-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams -- a loss that featured Singletary going at it in a prolonged verbal altercation with quarterback Troy Smith(notes) on the sidelines -- Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reported that York, his father John, and other team executives met to decide whether Singletary should be fired immediately, or after the season. Later Sunday evening, Maiocco reported via Twitter that a decision had been made.
Mike Singletary was fired when 49ers returned to practice facility this evening, Jed York just told me. Jim Tomsula takes over as interim.
Singletary released this statement following his termination:
"One of the greatest experiences of my life was having the opportunity to coach the San Francisco 49ers. What made it so special were the players. They were some of the most outstanding men I have ever been around in my life. The coaches were truly professionals. I wish the 49ers nothing but the best. I am thankful to the York family for having given me the opportunity to be a head coach in the NFL. I am indebted to them for that. I am also thankful for the faithful fans, I am just sorry I couldn't give them more."
Singletary's legacy as a head coach is a complicated one. Hired as an interim replacement to Mike Nolan halfway through the 2008 season, he helped the team finish 5-4, and was hired as the full-time head coach in December of that year. He was given a four-year, $10 million contract. The 49ers went 8-8 in 2009, and many experts expected more from the team in 2010.
But Singletary, always an impulsive and explosive decision-maker, seemed to lose his grip through his third season, and the 49ers stand at 5-10. He feuded needlessly with the press, made several questionable in-game coaching decisions, and jerked quarterbacks Troy and Alex Smith around to the point where nobody was really sure who was leading the team. More and more, it seemed to be more about Singletary exerting his authority than about the team's improvement, and the back-and-forth with Smith was just the most recent and obvious example.
A dynamic motivator under the right circumstances, Singletary is also a Hall of Fame linebacker and a long-time assistant coach. He will be replaced for the 49ers' season finale against the Arizona Cardinals by defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Singletary is the fourth head coach to be fired during the 2010 season, joining Dallas' Wade Phillips, Minnesota's Brad Childress and Denver's Josh McDaniels.
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