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News » Time to do more than talk

Time to do more than talk

Time to do more than talk Everything we need to know about Mike Singletary we learned on Day 1.

Before the sun set on Singletary's first game as an NFL head coach midway through last season, he yanked his starting quarterback, banished his tight end to the showers, dropped his drawers to punctuate his halftime motivational speech to his 49ers and spilled his guts to a roomful of stunned media folks.

Singletary's stated goal is to become the greatest head coach in NFL history, but who knew he would reach that goal in his first game?

Since that day, nobody has doubted Singletary's sincerity. It's a similar situation with Singletary's cross-bay counterpart, Tom Cable of the Raiders. Their passion seems pure, as opposed to, say, the two fellows they succeeded.

Singletary and Cable preach over-the-top toughness and absolute dedication to the cause. Their players listen and nod.

The question this season is: Can the players walk their coaches' talk? If the preseason is an indication: Ulp!

The Raiders went 1-3, losing their last three games by a combined 97-48. The 49ers went 3-1, but didn't knock anyone's socks off.

"The thing we set out to do was make sure we had an identity, and I think we've done that," Singletary said after a 26-7 loss to the Chargers to end the exhibition season.

"The identity that we wanted to achieve this offseason," Singletary said, "was to be a physical Football team, to be a tough Football team, to be relentless, to be disciplined and to be smart."

The 49ers have an identity, all right: They are Team Singletary.

It remains to be seen if Singletary can infuse his spirit into his players. If that infusion can be achieved via laser-glare-sand-brimstone speech, the 49ers will be a Super Bowl contender.

Cable also can talk the tough talk. But it is worth noting that the most successful Bay Area Football coach of the past half-decade has been the fellow at Cal who, when it comes to wild public saber-rattling, is a librarian.

Not that Singletary is all talk, although he is a fine salesman. He is selling run-first Football, which under the previous coach was known as "vanilla." Behind the talk, though, 49ers veterans say this was the toughest training camp they've ever experienced. Meet 'n' greet was the "nutcracker" drill.

And yet the 49ers are still searching for a pass rush, a consistent offensive attack and several other important items.

One of Cable's ongoing battles will be to convince his players that he is in charge. For any Raiders so-called head coach, dignity and respect are hard to come by.

Everyone believes Al Davis calls the major shots. Such as: Before last season ended, JaMarcus Russell was declared the starting quarterback for 2009. Period.

The Raiders picked up Jeff Garcia as insurance, and Cable seemed to favor a little creative tension, with Garcia breathing down Russell's neck. Cable said last week, "For JaMarcus to think he was anointed as the starter or something like that would be ridiculous."

Oops! A day or so later, Davis cut Garcia, leaving Russell just about as anointed as a quarterback can get.

Anything to make Mr. Russell feel comfy. Now if JaMarcus has a rocky quarter, he won't have to look to the sidelines and see Garcia doing jumping jacks in front of Cable.

Davis didn't want Raiders fans to have the option of chanting, "We want Garcia!" And it's too complicated to chant, "We want one of the other two guys!"

This wasn't Davis' intent, but cutting Garcia took pressure off Cable, who won't find himself in the awkward position of having to defend his QB if Russell's wheels come off.

Cable also got a break when Davis traded away the Raiders' 2011 first-round pick for veteran defensive end Richard Seymour.

The trade smacks of desperation, but it is a quick fix with the bonus of sparing the Raiders the financial, emotional and artistic burden of a high first-round draft pick.

The 49ers' front office has to be saying, "Why didn't we think of that?"

Play FOX Fantasy Football

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: September 7, 2009

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