This season was supposed to be momentous for the San Francisco 49ers. They were supposed to make a roaring return to the playoffs in fine form, taking the NFC West division with ten, perhaps eleven or even twelve wins! Under Mike Singletary and his ruthless guidance, they were supposed to go into every game with the mentality that losing was not an option. Death would come first for every player wearing the red and gold, stoic and silent, never talking, always showing, they would never accept defeat. I'm going to use an analogy here.
When the 49ers lost on opening day to the Seattle Seahawks, Mike Singletary was indicted. Big deal, everyone questioned things but ultimately, there was still a chance. The prosecution continued with a loss to the New Orleans Saints, but that was fought off by the defense by saying "Well. It's the Saints. And it was a close game." Singletary survives. The loss to Kansas City hurt bad, a witness at the scene who provided convincing testimony. That witness shredded the defendant, and not even a cross examination could save face. Singletary needed to look at the film, and it was his only defense. Nobody bought it, even when he threw Jimmy Raye under the bus. Raye was probably involved, a conspirator, but he was small-time.
The 49ers managed to keep it close to Atlanta, but lost in the end. That one was on Nate Clements, and of course Mike Singletary could not be blamed for it. Nate would be a witness for the prosecution who's credentials didn't quite check out, and his testimony was eventually stricken from the record. Singletary continued to build his case. But it wasn't to be.
The Philadelphia Eagles came to town, without Michael Vick and therefore sufficiently weakened. The 49ers smelled blood and they could work with this. They would be an expert for the defense, a high-powered guy took cash up front and testified for all the big courts. A win over the Eagles would mean something. But something went wrong, and the Eagles crushed the 49ers.
It was over. Mike Singletary was officially guilty, after another stumbling, incomprehensible press conference, he was convicted, his indictment confirmed by a jury. His sentence? His job as a the head coach of the 49ers was sentenced to death and his lawyers scrambled. They worked to find something, anything to save this man's job!
Week six rolls along and something happens! A witness for the prosecution recants, and Singletary pulls off a win against the Oakland Raiders, a team well in the hunt for their division. It was a good win against local rivals, and the fanbase (jury) needed it. The prosecution scored points with the explanation that the Raiders coaching was to blame. This witness wasn't a proponent of the death penalty, and thus he was only coming forward because he felt bad for Singletary's job.
Carolina was a failed appeal. Mike Singletary and his defense filed an appeal to the court of criminal appeals, and it was denied as the 49ers lost 23-20. Then came where the defense would score big, in Denver. Troy Smith came forward, he did what he needed to and the 49ers won another game. It was an appeal to the Supreme Court, and they came through. The time of execution was put off and a stay was granted over the bye week.
The defense lawyers continued to score points, as the 49ers rattled off a key win over the St. Louis Rams. Singletary might be on to something, maybe it was all the fault of his conspirator, Jimmy Raye. Perhaps his case needed to be looked at again.
Then slam. The state appeals had failed, the Supreme Court was no longer listening. All appeals currently in the works were fought off by the prosecution as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers shut out the 49ers at home, 21-0. The 49ers and Mike Singletary were exposed. The end was coming near, his job as Head Coach would finally be put to rest.
Singletary would eventually go federal with his appeals, and they would score some points. Wins on the federal level were against the NFC West opponent Cardinals and Seahawks. Big, dominating wins, but they weren't enough. With the crushing loss to the Chargers, that was all she wrote.
Except for one final appeal. The 49ers were still, remarkably, in playoff contention. A 3-1 NFC West record was boasted, support on the federal level. An appeal was filed, the last step in any death penalty case: the defense would ask the governor for clemency. Only the governor has the ability to grant a stay at this point in the proceedings. A win over the Rams, and the 49ers would need only one more to make the playoffs and contend for a Super Bowl!
But it didn't happen. They lost, and it wasn't really that close. During the game, the defense didn't know what they were doing, filing motions and changing quarterbacks. They got beaten convincingly. The case was there, laid out. Hopeless.
As the officials took Singletary's head coaching job and strapped it down, they asked him if he had any last words. "I need to take a look at the film," he replied, and just before the execution was scheduled, they received a call from the governor. He was denying all clemency for the head coach's job and the execution would go on.
In a sense, this lengthy narrative is saying one thing and one thing only: everybody knew that Mike Singletary's job was coming to an end. From week five, perhaps earlier on, folks knew that Mike Singletary's time in San Francisco was limited, at least as the head coach for the 49ers. The firing yesterday was not by surprise, it was not something that was decided on with no prior thought. It was in the works.
Disclaimer: My stance on the death penalty is not important, nor is it the main point of this article. Let's recognize that, mmkay? Mmkay.