Mike Singletary has been a remarkable short-term solution to the San Francisco 49ers' woes. With each passing week, the interim coach is looking more like the long-term fix as well.
The Sacramento Bee is reporting that according to a source close to the situation, the 49ers are planning to offer a multiyear contract to Singletary shortly after the team ends its season with Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins.
NFL teams cannot sign interim coaches during the season under the league's Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate, but the 49ers do not have to bring in more candidates if they are planning to take the interim tag off Singletary.
On Wednesday, Singletary acknowledged he had met earlier in the week with the team's top officials about his future. According to the Bee, Singletary laid out a plan for the 49ers that wowed the club's leadership.
"I will just say this: I don't interpret anything as . . . really good or really bad," said Singletary, whose club has won four of its past six games. "I think the most important thing is that I just continue to stay focused. After it's all said and done, we can look back at how positive things are, and our direction or whatever, and we can fully pay attention to it."
Team owners John and Jed York haven't responded to requests for comment on Singletary's situation, but they undoubtedly have noticed the 49ers' improved play - along with the groundswell of Bay Area fan support for the Hall of Fame linebacker.
Singletary's players certainly are in their coach's corner.
"The way guys have responded to him and played for him says a lot," said quarterback Shaun Hill, who is 4-3 as a starter with one of the NFL's best passer ratings since Singletary promoted him. "Those decisions aren't up to us, but we feel like we can turn the corner with what we have."
Singletary took over for Mike Nolan on Oct. 20, one day after San Francisco dropped to 2-5 with a loss at the Giants. The 49ers then lost the first two games of Singletary's tenure before the current surge, led by Hill's cool passing and a once-awful defense that has allowed fewer than 17 points in five of the last six games.
With a victory over Washington in Sunday's finale, the 49ers could finish 7-9 to match their best record during six consecutive losing seasons since John York fired coach Steve Mariucci following a second-round playoff defeat.
* The Dallas Cowboys have given right tackle Marc Colombo a 4-year contract extension, guaranteeing that nearly all of Tony Romo's blockers will be together through 2012. Colombo's deal was agreed to weeks ago, but wasn't finalized until this week because of some technicalities. It's worth $22 million, with $11.5 million guaranteed.
* Tampa Bay secondary coach Raheem Morris will take over as defensive coordinator in 2009, ensuring continuity next season with Monte Kiffin leaving the NFL to join his son, Lane, at the University of Tennessee. Morris is in his sixth season as a Bucs assistant, second as defensive backs coach. He initially joined coach Jon Gruden's staff as a defensive quality assistant in 2002, was a defensive assistant in 2003 and assistant defensive backs coach for the next two seasons before spending one year as defensive coordinator at Kansas State.
* Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder and cornerback Will Allen were limited in practice because of injuries, and their availability for Sunday's showdown against the New York Jets is uncertain. The Dolphins (10-5) win the AFC East if they beat the Jets. *