San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary was involved in a heated exchange with his starting quarterback, Alex Smith, during the team's Sunday night loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Following a critical fourth-quarter fumble that was returned for an Eagles touchdown, Singletary screamed at Smith on the sideline and nearly pulled the former No. 1 draft pick from the game on the next series. The video below only captures part of the blowup.
To his credit, Singletary left Smith in the game despite the outburst and the crowd's vociferous opposition. It almost paid off. Smith led the 49ers to two straight touchdowns following the series in the clip above and positioned himself to become the hero when the 49ers got the ball back with 1:28 left and down three points. But Smith reverted back to form, throwing a wobbler downfield on third-and-10 that was intercepted with 36 seconds remaining. The 49ers moved to 0-5 on the season.
[Photos: See more of an angry Singletary on the sideline]
Singletary later said he had yet to make a decision about whether Smith would start next week. He refused to tell reporters whether he was angry at Smith, but did say that his quarterback's positive reaction to his yelling was a reason he kept him in the game. (Given Singletary's notorious stubbornness, I wouldn't be surprised if the coach kept Smith in the game because he didn't want to give in to the crowd.)
It's become increasingly rare to see NFL coaches scream at a player on the sidelines. The players have been coddled for too long and make far too much money for coaches to be showing them up on the sidelines. If it does happen, screaming tends to be directed toward a younger player who blew an assignment or committed a dumb penalty. So for Singletary to upbraid his quarterback on the sidelines (on national television, no less) was a jarring sight.
Given the team's results and his erratic behavior, Singletary doesn't figure to be on the 49ers sideline beyond this year unless the team can make an improbable push to the NFC West title after an 0-5 start.
[Rewind: Singletary blows up during interview]
After the game, reporters asked Singletary and Smith about the incident. (Transcript courtesy of Tim Kawakami at the San Jose Mercury News):
Q: What happened when you were going to put Carr in but didn't?
Singletary: At that time I was contemplating putting David Carr(notes) in the game. And after talking to Alex, decided not to.
Q: What did he say?
Singletary: I'm not going to go through that. It's [exchanges] we had on the sideline and it's personal.
Q: Were you mad at him?
Singletary: Was I angry? (The question seemed pretty clear.)
Q: You looked animated.
Singletary: The bottom line is it's something that we talked about and I'd rather keep it personal. (Still didn't answer the clear question that was clarified.)
Q: Did you change your mind because of what he said or the way he said it?
Singletary: What he said.
Q: How do you feel he responded?
Singletary: He went in and scored.
Q: Are you feeling better about him now?
Singletary: I leave this game feeling disappointed that I think a pretty decent football team is 0-5. Disappointed for them because we put ourselves in this situation and only we can get ourselves out.
Q: You thought about going with Carr because of what? To get Alex out of there?
Singletary: I thought at the moment I really wanted to see what his response would be. More than anything, in a situation like that, a quarterback that has anything in him is going to have something to say about that. We're in the situation, how do we get out of the situation? Hopefully you're part of the solution.
And I think in the conversation that we had, I felt he felt he was part of the solution. And we went forward from there.
[Photos: More images of embattled San Fran quarterback Alex Smith]
Then Alex Smith met with reporters:
Q: What happened on the sideline there between you and Singletary?
Smith: I'm not really sure. Some things were going on the sideline. Obviously, coach and I talked and I went back out there. It kind of blurred a little bit, to be honest with you.
Q: What did you tell Singletary?
Smith: It's kind of between me and him there on the sideline. Obviously, I was frustrated, but didn't want to come out of the game at that point. It was a discussion. We weren't seeing eye-to-eye the whole time. But it's kind of between us.
Q: Did you have you to convince Singletary to keep you in the game?
Smith: You'd have to ask him, I guess. I don't really know [what] he was thinking.
Q: Did you tell Singletary what he needed to hear to get you back in?
Smith: I'm not sure what he was looking for, either. Obviously, I was frustrated at the time, frustrated with myself, frustrated with my plan, but didn't feel like he gave us a chance with me coming out.
I felt like it wasn't right, was basically what I told him.
[Rewind: Another player faces a Singletary tirade]
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