49ers turn to veteran

Published: Saturday, January 22, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 22, 2005 at 12:21 a.m.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Though Mike Singletary stayed away from the NFL for a decade after his playing career, he never lost his love for football.
The Hall of Fame linebacker believes he can instill a bit of his famed competitive fire in the young San Francisco 49ers.
Singletary was hired to be the 49ers' assistant head coach and linebackers coach Friday, following new coach Mike Nolan from Baltimore. Singletary was the Ravens' inside linebackers coach for the past two seasons while Nolan was their defensive coordinator.
Singletary, a star linebacker for the Chicago Bears from 1981-92, is the first coach hired by Nolan in his rebuilding effort with the 49ers, who had the NFL's worst record this season at 2-14. Though his new job will mean plenty of work, Singletary isn't intimidated by the major project facing Nolan's staff.
''When I went to the Chicago Bears, it was a train wreck there,'' Singletary said. ''There are train wrecks all over the place. I'm in the business of correcting what's wrong. ... There's a lot of talent on this team, and there's a lot of young guys. It's all about believing that we can be an elite team, that we can get back to what we had before.''
Singletary felt a rush of memories - not all of them good ones - as he pulled on his first 49ers polo shirt earlier in the day. The clubs had a heated NFC rivalry throughout the 1980s, though both have struggled through much of the last 10 years.
''I think all the ballplayers here should appreciate it, even if they can't understand what this organization was,'' Singletary said. ''When I think of the 49ers to this day, I think of excellence. I think of tradition.''
Singletary was named the NFL's top defensive player in 1985 and 1988, earning widespread respect and admiration for his strong work ethic and hard-hitting play. After finishing his career with 1,488 tackles, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
  • BUCCANEERS: A day after resigning as the Jets' offensive 'coordinator, Paul Hackett flew to Tampa and met with Bucs Coach Jon Gruden about becoming the team's quarterbacks coach.
    There's a good chance Hackett will be hired to replace John Shoop, whose contract is due to expire. Shoop is seeking consideration for offensive coordinator positions elsewhere Gruden worked for Hackett at the University of Pittsburgh in 1991, when Hackett was the head coach and Gruden coached the receivers.
  • FALCONS: Coach Jim Mora believes Todd Weiner will start in the NFC championship game after the right tackle practiced for the first time this week.
    Weiner, along with cornerback Kevin Mathis and defensive lineman Travis Hall, is listed as questionable for the Falcons' game at Philadelphia.
    After straining his left foot in the divisional playoff game against St. Louis, Weiner left the Georgia Dome wearing a protective boot. He has not worn the boot since Tuesday.
  • JAGUARS: Jacksonville signed safety Nick Sorensen to a multiyear contract extension and added free-agent wide receiver Chris Cole.
    Sorensen, a fifth-year player from Virginia Tech, was the team's special teams captain and finished with 12 tackles.
    Cole, a third-round pick in 2000 from Texas A&M, played 35 games in three seasons with the Denver Broncos as a returner and receiver.
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