Are the San Francisco 49ers the biggest disappointment of the young 2010 NFL season? They have to be right up there. At 0-3, the 49ers are still very much alive in the NFC West, but that’s simply a product of that division not looking like it’s going to be very formidable as the season progresses. In terms of the product Mike Singletary’s team has put out on the field, there’s been very little to be optimistic about if you’re a 49ers’ fan. Yes, they played fairly well at times against New Orleans, but in Weeks 1 and 3, the 49ers struggled to do much of anything offensively, and their defense didn’t look nearly as well-rounded and capable as most thought it would be at the outset of the year. The first order of business for Singletary following the 0-3 start was to fire offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye. San Francisco has scored just 38 points through 3 games, the second lowest mark league-wide behind only Carolina.
Singletary joined KNBR in San Francisco to talk about his decision to fire offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, why he did so after saying he wasn’t going to make any changes like that after the 49ers’ loss on Sunday, how he always informs people of decisions like that in person, how it was his decision not the ownership’s, why he opted to hand over the offensive coordinator duties to Mike Johnson, how he’s not concerned about Johnson’s lack of experience calling plays, how he’s still interested in seeing the 49ers be more balanced on offense, and how it’s too early to feel like Alex Smith’s job might be jeopardy.
On how he came about his decision to fire Raye after he said he wasn’t going to do at the post-game podium:
“Well I think first off, after the game everybody asked me right away is Jimmy Raye going to the coordinator throughout the year, for the rest of the year. The thing I don’t ever want to do is I don’t ever want to pin something on one guy. I don’t ever want to be ‘here’s the reason he’s out.’ I don’t ever want to do anything like that, throw anybody under the bus so to speak. So my loyalty runs very strong for our coaching staff. But the thing I did after that on my way home and of course when we did land, I just went home, I went home and thought about it a bit, talked to my wife a bit, and just decided to come back to the building and really look at the body of work from this season. And I thought about some of the things we talked about this offseason that we needed to do in order to get to the next level, in order to get better. And I had seen bits and pieces of it at times, but overall, I just felt for our team and for our offense we needed to move on.”
On if he did it in person or if he called Raye to inform him of his decision:
“No, I don’t do anything over the phone. If I’m going to do something, I want to see them. I don’t care if I have to get on a plane to go find them, I like doing things face to face.”
On if he ever considered handing over the offensive coordinator duties to somebody other than Mike Johnson:
“Yes, I talked to Mike Solari after I had made the decision and I told him how valuable I felt that he was, and the value that I thought he brought to our coaching staff was tremendous. He continues to work his tail off with our offensive line, but I wanted him to know that even with the experience that he had that I felt he would help the progressions of Mike Johnson. And because Mike has worked so closely with the quarterback, I felt Mike really had a hand on that and really would be the best overall choice.”
On if there’s any truth to the speculation that he got the directive to fire Raye from Jed York after the game:
“No, as a matter of fact, Jed and I didn’t talk about it all…”
On if he’s going to try to implement a more opened up offense like they were at the end of last year, or if they are going to try to continue to be a smash-mouth running team:
“You see, here we go again. You know, it’s not a smash-mouth run team. What I want is a balance. I really do want a balance. I want to run Frank Gore when we want to run Frank Gore. But at the same time I want get the ball to Vernon Davis, I want to get the ball to Crabtree, I want to use Brian Westbrook more, I just want to use the playmakers in the best way that we can. But I want to attack people both running and throwing the football.”
On how safe Alex Smith’s job is moving forward now that they’ve changed offensive coordinators:
“I think with Alex Smith it’s kind of been up-and-down, but I think it’s not all Alex Smith. I think people just have to realize that. I just feel that I’ve seen Alex Smith continue to grow. No, he hasn’t played spectacular to the point where it’s okay, he’s arrived. I think he did a nice job that Monday night, and you know, we got in this game and things kind of went south a bit. But he really didn’t have a lot of time, so he couldn’t really get into a rhythm. So I just feel we need to do a better job of preparing him, and making sure he has all the things he needs in order to be successful. I just feel it’s too early to pin it on him and say he’s not the guy, you know what Alex you’re not doing it. I just feel he needs some more time.”