SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Mike Singletary has been a remarkable short-term solution to the San Francisco 49ers' woes. With each passing week, the interim coach is looking more like the long-term fix as well.
When the 49ers (6-9) began preparations Wednesday for their season finale against Washington, Singletary acknowledged meeting with the team's top officials about his future earlier in the week. According to the Sacramento Bee, Singletary laid out a plan for the 49ers that wowed the club's leadership, which could announce Singletary's appointment to the full-time job early next week.
"I will just say this: I don't interpret anything as ... really good or really bad," said Singletary, whose club has won four of its last six. "I think the most important thing is that I just continue to stay focused. After it's all said and done, we can look back at how positive things are, and our direction or whatever, and we can fully pay attention to it."
Because Singletary is the NFL's seventh current black head coach, the 49ers wouldn't be required under the Rooney Rule to hold additional interviews after the season before promoting an interim coach. John and Jed York haven't responded to requests for comment on Singletary's situation, but the owners undoubtedly have noticed the 49ers' improved play along with the groundswell of Bay Area fan support for the Hall of Fame linebacker.
Singletary's players certainly are in their coach's corner.
"The way guys have responded to him and played for him says a lot," said quarterback Shaun Hill, who's 4-3 as a starter with one of the NFL's best passer ratings since Singletary promoted him. "Those decisions aren't up to us, but we feel like we can turn the corner with what we have."
Singletary took over for Mike Nolan on Oct. 20, one day after San Francisco dropped to 2-5 with a loss at the Giants. The 49ers then lost the first two games of Singletary's tenure before the current surge, led by Hill's cool passing and a once-struggling defense that has allowed fewer than 17 points in five of the last six games.
With a victory over Washington in Sunday's finale, the Niners could finish 7-9 to match their best record during six consecutive losing seasons since John York fired coach Steve Mariucci following a second-round playoff defeat.
If Singletary returns, most believe he'll have to find a new offensive coordinator -- San Francisco's seventh new face at the job in seven years.
Mike Martz, hired in January by Nolan in an effort to revitalize the NFL's worst offense in two of the previous three seasons, has breathed life into San Francisco's effort. But the former St. Louis head coach runs a pass-first scheme that doesn't seem to fit Singletary's belief in a run-oriented attack.
Martz acquiesced to Singletary's now-obvious promotion of Hill over Martz favorite J.T. O'Sullivan. Martz also bent his game plans to accommodate Singletary's desire for a sturdier running game. Although Martz and Singletary seem to get along well, both might be better off on their own.
"I think everything that I asked him to do, he made every attempt to do the things he needed to do," Singletary said when asked about Martz's future in San Francisco. "Going forward, I just feel that after the season, we have to sit down ... and look at what gives us the best opportunity to win."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press