National Football League Blogcast, NFL Blogcast
After a 34-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks this afternoon, new San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary blasted tight end Vernon Davis (and sent him to the locker room early after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty) — and addressed (emphatically) the need for players who are “solution oriented” in their approach to fixing the many problems of this once-proud franchise:
“Vernon … it’s something I told everyone at the beginning of the week. I will not tolerate players that think it’s about them and not the team. We cannot make decisions that cost the team, and then come off the sidelines and it’s nonchalant. No. This is how I believe. I’m from the old school. I believe this. I would 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 part of this team. It’s more about them, than it is the team. You can not play with them. You can not win with them. You can not coach with them. Can’t do it. I want winners. I want people who want to win ….. I told him he’d 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.”
Now, in defense of Vernon, the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was a joke. I don’t know what he said — it looked like there was some jawing — but he just brushed the facemask of Seahawks safety Brian Russell. It was barely a swipe. But that’s not the point. I know a bit about Vernon. I’ve interviewed him. He’s a good guy. And I don’t believe he’s a selfish player. Some people have said that he talks a better game than he plays, but I wouldn’t go that far. I will step out and say I think he’s been somewhat of an underachiever because he has the ability to be one of the best tight ends in football. I don’t know whether it’s been because of his surroundings or his supporting cast or whatever you want to call it. But the guy is better than the numbers he has put up in his short career thus far (not that they’ve been terrible numbers). I do think Vernon probably needs to get some bad habits out of his system which may or may not include an attitude adjustment. And Coach Singeltary will help him there. If Vernon’s open to it. Which I believe he is. You didn’t see Vernon jawing with his coach over the incident. He took the punishment like a man and was respectful about it. And even though I’m sure it was an embarrassing situation for him, he’ll be a better player and person for it.
Coach Singeltary comes from “the old school,” as he said in his postgame presser. What he’s doing from the start — from his start, if you will — is setting a standard for this 49ers team. He’s letting them know, in no uncertain terms, what he expects and what it will take to be a championship caliber team. The Niners are not there right now. But with Coach Singeltary’s guidance, I believe they will be sooner than later. I think Mike Singletary will be a great head coach in the National Football League.