Mora takes hard stance against Seahawks' perceived soft image

San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary had a message for his team the night before they recently played the Seattle Seahawks.

According to Seahawks coach Jim Mora, Singletary said: "If you walk into Seattle and punch them in the face, they won't react."

For more on the Seattle Seahawks, check out the latest from our bloggers.

"I know that's what Mike Singletary said on Saturday night before we played them two weeks ago," Mora said Wednesday during a fist-pounding rant in which he added that he's seeking more meanness -- more "dirtbags" -- on his 5-8 team.

How did Mora know Singletary said the Seahawks were soft? A tip from the many pals Mora likely still has in the Bay Area, after being a 49ers assistant from 1997 to 2003 and before he became coach of the Atlanta Falcons for three seasons?

"Just, you know, got my sources," Mora said, chuckling. "And he'll probably deny it, and that's OK. He should. But you know what? Every coach says that. I said it (when facing the Seahawks)."

Singletary's 49ers lost that game, 20-17, on the final play in Seattle amid an avalanche of mistakes. Singletary already was finished with practice and his media availability when The Associated Press sought a reaction Wednesday.

Mora's characterization of his team made at least one Seahawk laugh -- one who has played for the fiery coach in each of the four seasons he has been an NFL head man.

Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Patrick Kerney played two playoff games in January 2008 with torn cartilage in his shoulder, which required surgery weeks later.

"Talk is incredibly cheap, and the hardest muscle for anyone to control is their tongue," Kerney said.

"What's always funny to me is when people paint, you know, the Steelers as tough because they are from the Steel City," he said. "Well, no one from their team ever worked in steel mills, you know?

"It's like, 'West Coast teams are soft.' Well, none of us were ever flower children running around going to peace marches. I just laugh at that stuff," Kerney added. "These perceptions that get made up are just humorous to me. Shoot, if you are an NFL player, you are tough."

But many on the current Seahawks roster aren't tough enough for Mora -- especially left tackle Sean Locklear and his mates on a faulty, makeshift offensive line. They have angered the coach for weeks, for allowing quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to be pummeled each game.

Mora announced Wednesday that he's benching center Chris Spencer, replacing him with rookie Max Unger for Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the first of three weekends in which the coach says every Seahawk is being evaluated for the 2010 season.

Spencer, whose contract ends after this season, now will share snaps at right guard with Mike Gibson, who will make his season debut. The Seahawks signed the second-year pro off the Philadelphia Eagles' practice squad in late October.

But Mora saved most of his anger for Locklear. The five-year starter is the heir apparent at left tackle for Walter Jones, who might not play again following major knee surgery.

That is, Locklear was Jones' heir apparent.

"I want to see him take a right end and keep him away from our quarterback for an entire game, that's what I want to see," Mora said of Locklear, pounding his fist on a table and raising his voice. "I want to see him, when we run the football, KNOCK SOMEBODY ON THEIR (REAR ENDS)! When we run the football away, I want to see him cut somebody down. That's what I want to see. I want to see some NASTINESS!"

After a pause, Mora interrupted a follow-up question with a tense laugh and said, "There you go, baby!"

The coach said the nastiness that he sees as a prerequisite to being an effective blocker is mostly inherent.

"If you're going to be a good offensive lineman ... you've got to have -- can I say it? -- you've got to be a little bit of a dirtbag. Not as a person, but on the football field," Mora said. "Man, if you don't have some frickin' toughness, you're going to fail, you know? You're going to fail."

Locklear understood why Mora was mad, especially after a 34-7 loss at Houston on Sunday.

"He's angry, and rightfully so," Locklear said after practice. "We went down there, and from the opening snap, we got embarrassed. And he told us. We all knew it. We don't need to be told that. We were on the field playing.

"So he's upset. He's been upset. Even now, he's still got a chip on his shoulder," Locklear added. "So we all got to take it to heart."

The Seahawks received bad news about wide receiver Nate Burleson, who has a high ankle sprain and might not play again this season. Mora said Burleson definitely is out for Sunday's game against the Bucs.

Mora said the Seahawks must make a decision on what they want to do with Burleson over the final three games of the season. He could end up on injured reserve to clear a roster spot.

Burleson was injured after taking a helmet to his ankle on a punt return last Sunday at Houston. He kept playing, caught a sideline pass and then hobbled off the field for good.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.
Purchase single game tickets for the 2022 season