San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore, right, celebrates with guard Adam Snyder after scoring on an 80-yard touchdown run in the third quarter against Seattle Sunday. - AP

Singletary not satisfied with impressive start

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Mike Singletary is the toughest of critics, never one for handing out too much praise to his San Francisco 49ers — even at 2-0, with wins over two teams considered NFC West contenders.

"We've been 2-0 before," Singletary said. "We haven't been 3-0 since I've been here. That's the next step."

Getting there would mean a road victory over Brett Favre and fellow unbeaten Minnesota this week.

San Francisco certainly appears headed up — the only direction the Niners can go on the heels of a franchise-worst six straight losing seasons — in Singletary's first full year in charge.

"We can't rely on being 2-0. We've got to move on," tight end Vernon Davis said Monday. "It's a great feeling, but it's not the end."

The 49ers won at reigning NFC champion Arizona in Week 1, then topped Seattle in commanding fashion 23-10 on Sunday to give San Francisco the early hold on first place in the NFC West.

Yet Singletary still finds plenty of flaws, and is doing all he can to keep his club humble. All signs point to the grueling training camp this team endured being a boost so far.

"It kind of validates what we've been through, all the work we put in, all the work until now," linebacker Takeo Spikes said. "We still feel like we left stuff out there. We always shoot for perfection."

Frank Gore was pretty close to perfect Sunday. He ran for 207 yards, five off his career best set in 2006 also against the Seahawks, with touchdown runs of 79 and 80 yards. He didn't even play after the first drive of the fourth quarter because of a sprained right ankle, an injury that isn't expected to limit him this week.

"I'll be good," Gore said Monday, noting he expects to practice Wednesday.

Even Singletary allowed himself to appreciate Gore's special outing despite all the other things he's doing in the midst of game day. Gore's big afternoon meant the offensive line was doing a better job.

"You may not see me laughing or anything like that, but I enjoy every bit of it because when he's running like that, something good up front is happening," Singletary said. "Obviously, it was a great day. It really was. It's a tribute to our offensive line. It's a tribute to Frank seeing the holes and hitting them. It's a tribute to our outside guys and our receivers doing a great job blocking. Everybody is doing their job in order for those things to happen."

After Sunday's win, Singletary told his players to celebrate that night because Monday it was right back to work in preparation for a tough Vikings team.

Now, the last thing San Francisco can afford after this encouraging start is a repeat of 2007, Mike Nolan's third season as coach.

The Niners opened with back-to-back wins, at home against Arizona on Monday Night Football and then a narrow 17-16 victory at St. Louis, sparking talk that the team was on the rise. Then San Francisco absolutely plummeted, as in an eight-game losing streak that turned a once-promising season into a 5-11 debacle.

Nolan survived but was eventually fired last Oct. 20 following a 2-5 start.

"I don't really want to compare to 2-0 now and 2-0 (two years ago)," Singletary said. "This team, we're just going to continue to work, and we're going to continue to get better. And, we'll stay together. Whatever comes out of that, I think the end result will be good."

Even some of Singletary's players are starting to talk like he does regarding this early success, having bought in months ago to the intense coach's system and no-nonsense style.

"This league is about constant improvement," said quarterback Shaun Hill, who improved to 6-0 at Candlestick Park. "If we go out and play like we have the first two weeks, it's not going to be good; 2-0, that's the start we're looking for, but by no means does that mean we're finished. We've got a long way to go and a good opponent coming up this week."

The 49ers aren't surprising themselves. The players have said all along they have the talent to turn this franchise around.

"We may be new to America, but to us, we expect it," Spikes said.

Share This Story