You know, someone once said that true character is revealed in defeat.
I don’t necessarily know who said that, but it’s a good saying. But, ultimately, it is true. You can either pout and complain like a spoiled brat (right, Michael Crabtree?!), or you can take it like an adult, learn from your mistakes and move on.This is exactly why I love Mike Singletary. After a heartbreaking defeat to the now 3-0 Minnesota Vikings, after a 32-yard TD strike by Brett Favre with 2 seconds left, Singletary never backed down from his philosophy of accountability and a winning attitude. Having suffered their worst defeat in years, the 49ers headstrong head coach was unflappable, watching his players hang their heads.
“Stop looking at the floor!” he yelled. “We didn’t steal anything, we didn’t do anything wrong, OK? We’re going to get better, we’re going to get there … We’ll see them again – in the playoffs! Alright? You hold your head up! You do not need to put your head down for anybody!! You hold your head up! You understand?”
Personally, I was walking around in a daze after the loss, as a 49ers fan – and I didn’t even see the final play. But with the inspiring words of Samurai Mike, he gives Niner Nation a reason to believe they can make a run at the playoffs this year. With a solid game plan based on old-school smashmouth football and minimizing mental and strategic mistakes on the field, he gives San Francisco (2-1) a legitimate shot at the NFC West title.
And, c’mon – despite the heartbreaking last few seconds of the game, let’s take a look at the facts:
1) The 49ers lost their most potent weapon, and was still leading with 3 seconds left in the game. Frank Gore went down in the 1st quarter, along with what many people thought was any chance of winning the game. But, look who stepped up: oft-criticized TE Vernon Davis, who caught two TDs, one of them the go-ahead with 8 minutes left in the game. Backup RB Glen Coffee (25 carries, 54 yards) was serviceable when he needed to be. Then there was QB Shaun Hill (195 yds, 2 TDs), who showed he can step up in crunch time.
2) If not for that miracle play by Favre at the end of the game, they would be 3-0. Sure, this is a “coulda-shoulda-woulda” point, but I’m making it, anyway – they were 3 seconds away from 3-0. If they can play a team like the Vikings – with a stout defense, a ridiculously good running game and a QB like Brett Favre – down to the wire, they’ve got to be good enough to make a run at the division, right?
3) Let’s face it: they shot themselves in the foot, in terms of 3rd down conversions. Going 0-11 on 3rd down is never going to help you win. But, there they were – up 4 with 3 seconds left, despite that glaring weakness in their offensive game.
4) Trust me: Samurai Mike will not let them forget this. And yes – that’s a good thing. If anyone can motivate their team with a loss like this going forward, it’s Mike Singletary. He’ll use this to fuel the fire in the 49ers, to make sure this never happens to them again. After all, he’s instilling a team of winners. And that’s what he did tonight – told them to hold their heads up, even after defeat. He stressed this at the press conference: “[The loss] stings and it hurts like heck, but going forward, this will serve us well. We have to learn how to finish.”