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Mike Singletary
Mike Singletary at 49ers Family Day 2009 1.JPG
Singletary in June 2009
Jersey #(s)
Born October 9, 1958 (1958-10-09) (age 51)
Houston, Texas
Career information
Year(s) 19811992
NFL Draft 1981 / Round: 2 / Pick: 38
College Baylor
Professional teams

As Player

As Assistant Coach

As Head Coach

Career stats
Tackles 1,488
Sacks 19
Interceptions 7
Stats at
Career highlights and awards

Michael Singletary (born October 9, 1958 in Houston, Texas) is the head coach for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League. Before he became the coach of the 49ers in 2008, he spent his entire playing career as a linebacker for the Chicago Bears after starring in college at Baylor University. After playing with the Baylor Bears, Singletary was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 2nd round of the 1981 NFL Draft and was known as "The Heart of the Defense" for the Chicago Bears' Monsters of the Midway in the mid-1980s. His nickname was Samurai Mike. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.


College career

After playing high school football at Evan E. Worthing High School in Houston, Singletary attended college at Baylor University located in Waco, Texas. At Baylor, Singletary earned All-America honors in both junior (1979) and senior (1980) years, where he averaged 15 tackles per game and established a team record with 232 tackles in 1978, including 34 in a game against the University of Houston. During Singletary's senior season of 1980, Baylor won 10 games for the only time in school history.

Singletary was the only college junior to be selected to the All-Southwest Conference Team of the 1970s. Singletary was a two-time recipient of the Davey O'Brien Memorial Trophy which was awarded to the most outstanding player in the Southwest Conference. Singletary lettered four years. He had 97 tackles as a freshman, 232 (a school record) as a sophomore, then 188 and 145. The total, 662, set a school record. In 1978 he had 35 tackles in a game against Arkansas, 31 against Ohio State. He was all- Southwest Conference three years and All-America two years. In 1979 and 1980 he won the Davey O'Brien Award, given to the outstanding player in the Southwest. (The award has since been changed to a national quarterback trophy.) In 1980 he helped Baylor to the Southwest Conference championship.

Professional career

At 6 ft (1.8 m), 230 lbs (104 kg), Singletary became a starter in the Chicago Bears lineup in the seventh game of his rookie season (1981). In a game against the Kansas City Chiefs, his third as a starter, Singletary put on a remarkable defensive performance recording 10 tackles and forcing a fumble. A nearly unanimous all-rookie selection, Singletary went on to start 172 games for the Bears during his 12-year career, which is the second most in club history.

An intense player, Mike finished as the Bears' first or second leading tackler each of his last 11 seasons. He amassed an impressive 1,488 career tackles, 885 of which were solo efforts. A constant force on defense, he missed playing just two games, both in 1986. He also recorded 7 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries.

In a game against the Denver Broncos in 1990 he had a personal-best performance when he recorded 10 solo tackles and 10 assists. Selected to play in a team record 10 Pro Bowls, Singletary was All-Pro eight times, and All-NFC every year from 1983 to 1991

He earned the nickname Samurai Mike during his professional career in recognition of the intimidating focus and intensity he displayed on the field. He was also known as "the Minister of Defense," as he is also an ordained minister. (For the same reason, the nickname would later be given to Reggie White.)

He led the Bears to a 15-1 season in 1985. That season, he recorded 109 solo tackles (52 assists), 3 sacks, 1 interception, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble, and 10 defended passes. He won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and led a defense that was ranked 1st overall (1st against the rush; 3rd against the pass).

Throughout the 1985 playoffs, Singletary provided stellar efforts in all 3 games. In the divisional game against the New York Giants at home, Singletary provided a fumble recovery early in the 1st quarter and a sack of quarterback Phil Simms on 3rd down early in the 3rd quarter. The Bears went on to win 21-0. In the NFC Championship Game vs. the Los Angeles Rams, Singletary and the Bears dominated again. Mike Ditka said that the day before the game, he was talking to the offense while Singletary was in the next room giving the defense a motivational speech. While it started out quiet, within minutes, Samurai Mike was screaming at the top of his lungs and the defensive players were throwing chairs and knocking over tables. The Bears would eventually go to win Super Bowl XX by beating the New England Patriots 46–10. In the game, Singletary broke up a pass that would have gone for a touchdown, delivered a jarring hit to New England running back Craig James, and tied a Super Bowl record with 2 fumble recoveries.

Singletary was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press in 1985 and 1988. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1995 and to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998. In 1999, he was ranked number 56 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.

Coaching career

"I want winners. I want people that want to win."
—Mike Singletary

In 2002, a group of alumni at Baylor University promoted Singletary for the school's open head coaching position, holding a conference call (which included Mike Ditka and Dave McGinnis) with the university administration.[1] The position ultimately went to Guy Morriss. Singletary at the time had no head or assistant coaching experience and the university president later stated that they wanted to hire a coach with prior “head coaching experience.”[2]

In 2003, Singletary became linebackers coach for the Baltimore Ravens, pairing him with Ray Lewis. Following the 2004 season, the San Francisco 49ers hired Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan to be their head coach, and Singletary left the Ravens with Nolan to be San Francisco's assistant head coach and linebackers coach.

In 2007, Singletary interviewed for the head coaching job of the Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers, but was ultimately passed over. With Morriss leaving Baylor after the 2007 season, Singletary appeared to be the leading candidate for his replacement, and expressed interest in the job.[3] On November 19, 2007, Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw flew to San Francisco to interview Singletary.[4] However, Singletary decided against taking the position.[5] Singletary's son Matt is currently a player for Baylor.

Singletary (center) during a game against the St. Louis Rams on November 16, 2008


Singletary became the interim head coach of the 49ers after Mike Nolan was fired on October 20, 2008.[6] Singletary instantly made a statement in San Francisco by sending tight end Vernon Davis to the locker room with more than 10 minutes remaining in his head coaching debut, a 34-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Davis was penalized 15 yards for slapping Seattle safety Brian Russell after a reception. In his widely heralded post-game press conference, Singletary called Davis' actions "uncoachable" and said that he would rather play with a 10-man squad than have to deal with an apathetic 11-man squad.[7]

Taking over the 2-5 49ers team, Singletary was able to finish the season 5-4 under his leadership (for a final team record of 7-9). On December 28, 2008, after a 27-24 come-from-behind victory over the Washington Redskins, Singletary was offered the team's long-term head coaching position, and signed a 4 year, $10 million contract as the 49ers head coach.


After leading the 49ers to a positive finish in 2008, Singletary helped the team jump out to a 3-1 overall record in the 2009 season. Despite a last-second loss to the Brett Favre-led Minnesota Vikings in Week 3, the 49ers recorded wins against the reigning NFC champion Arizona Cardinals and NFC West divisional rival Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams.[8]

While the 49ers were being blown out by the visiting Atlanta Falcons in Week 5, Singletary lost his temper over his team's poor play; afterward, he expressed remorse for his actions, saying how he wished he "had more coaching etiquette" while reiterating how he would "get better at those things as time goes on."[9] In the weeks to come, Singletary and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye would drastically alter the 49ers' game plan, opting to start quarterback Alex Smith in place of Shaun Hill while adopting more of a spread offense.[10] The new game plan had mixed results, as the 49ers posted a 2-5 record from Week 7 to Week 13 and struggled to maintain their playoff hopes. In a Week 14 Monday Night Football matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, however, Singletary and his coaching staff were better able to integrate running back Frank Gore into the spread offense and pulled off an impressive 24-9 victory.[11]

With this momentum and their slim playoff hopes still alive, the 49ers visited the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 15, but subsequently lost, 27-13.[12] After the game, a disappointed Singletary emphasized his team's continued need to improve, but still backed Smith as the team's starting quarterback.[13] Singletary helped the 49ers end the season on a high note with victories against the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams to reach 8-8, the team's first non-losing season since 2002.

Head coaching record

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
SF 2008* 5 4 0 0.555 2nd in NFC West - - - -
SF 2009 8 8 0 0.500 2nd in NFC West - - - -
Total[14] 13 12 0 0.520

*Interim head coach

Coaching tree

NFL head coaches under whom Mike Singletary was a player:

NFL head coaches under whom Mike Singletary has served:

Assistant coaches under Mike Singletary who became NFL head coaches:

  • None

Personal life

In addition to his coaching duties for the 49ers, Singletary is a motivational speaker and has authored three books: Singletary One on One, Calling the Shots, and Daddy’s Home at Last. Singletary also owns a car dealership in Montana. Singletary and his wife, Kim, have seven children. His son Matt[15] joined Baylor University's roster in 2007 as a freshman defensive end.


External links

Preceded by
Billy Sims
Davey O'Brien Award winner
Succeeded by
Jim McMahon*
Preceded by
Mark Johnson
Gary Lawrence
Paul McDonald
Greg Meredith
Joan Benoit Samuelson
Dave Stoldt
Silver Anniversary Awards (NCAA)
Class of 2006
Valerie Ackerman
Danny Ainge
Charles Davis
Terry Schroeder
Mike Singletary
Susan Wellington
Succeeded by
Gail Koziara Boudreaux
Ambrose “Rowdy” Gaines
Steve Jordan
Patricia Melton
Ann Woods Smith
William Stetson, M.D.
Preceded by
Mike Nolan
San Francisco 49ers Head Coaches
Succeeded by


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