Mike Singletary and those blasted rats

Mike Singletary's harsh words for the sources behind the Yahoo! Sports story about the San Francisco 49ers' play-calling problems point to a broader issue -- one Singletary inherited when the team named him head coach.

lastnameSingletary"To me, that's a rat," Singletary told reporters Thursday. "That's a coward and a rat."

This is not the first time someone with intimate knowledge of the 49ers' inner workings has revealed compromising details anonymously. Sports Illustrated quoted an anonymous source saying the coaching staff wasn't on board with the decision to sign receiver Brandon Jones, who was subsequently released. An anonymous source was also behind the Phoenix radio report revealing the time Singletary pulled down his pants during halftime of a 2008 game against Seattle.

Singletary is a principled man who seems genuinely perplexed when others do not uphold his standards for honesty and forthrightness. But the reality in San Francisco is that Singletary inherited his coaching staff, making it tougher to demand loyalty in difficult times. You can bet some assistant coaches felt disappointment when ownership passed over them by naming Singletary to replace Mike Nolan during the 2008 season. You can bet some assistant coaches thought they could do a better job.

That's the way it is on every staff, in my experience, but the difference in San Francisco is that Singletary didn't hire all his assistants. That makes a difference. Also, quite a few players and several staff members have left for other organizations.

When Singletary says the "rat" resides outside the building, I take him to mean the information came from someone no longer with the organization. That unfairly impugns some innocent people, but it's preferable to the information coming from current staffers -- which still might have been the case.

Whatever the truth, Singletary needs to fix the communication problems and win some games. That was the case whether or not a "rat" betrayed him.