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NFL: Singletary is sent packing by Niners

Mike Singletary was fired Monday as coach of the San Francisco 49ers, who have a 5-10 record and will miss the NFL playoffs for an eighth straight season.

Mike Singletary was fired Monday as coach of the San Francisco 49ers, who have a 5-10 record and will miss the NFL playoffs for an eighth straight season.

Jim Tomsula, the 49ers' defensive line coach, will replace Singletary on an interim basis, the team said.

The 49ers, who captured the last of their five Super Bowl titles in 1995, finish their regular-season schedule with Sunday's home game against Arizona. They were eliminated from postseason contention with Sunday's 25-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams.

The 52-year-old Singletary, who was a Hall of Fame linebacker for the Chicago Bears, had an 18-22 record with the 49ers since replacing Mike Nolan during the 2008 season.

The 49ers went 8-8 under Singletary last year and entered this season as one of the favorites to win the NFC's West Division. They instead opened with a 0-5 record - their worst start in 31 years.

Their season has also been marked by quarterback instability, as Singletary alternated between Alex Smith and Troy Smith as his starter.

Singletary and Troy Smith had a heated verbal exchange on the sideline during Sunday's loss that was caught by television cameras.

After the game, team president Jed York said that the 49ers plan to hire a general manager after the season.

San Francisco's football operations have been run by vice president of player personnel Trent Baalke since Scot McCloughan left the team in March. and Fox Sports reported that the 49ers' next GM would help hire a new coach before the 49ers issued a statement saying Singletary had been fired.

Death in Dolphins' family. Former Dolphins offensive tackle Eric Laakso died on Christmas Day. He was 54 years old.

Laakso played for Miami from 1978 to '84 and was the starting right tackle on the franchise's 1982 and '84 Super Bowl teams. He played in 86 career games, including 48 consecutive starts.

Police blotter. Washington Redskins defensive lineman Joe Joseph was arrested on charges of driving under the influence less than 24 hours after making his NFL debut.

He was booked about 3 a.m. Monday after deputies in Loudoun County, Va., responded to a report of a single-vehicle accident shortly after midnight. He was released on his own recognizance.

Baltimore Ravens rookie linebacker Sergio Kindle was charged with drunken driving over the weekend.

Police pulled him over in Howard County, Md., about 4 a.m. Sunday when they saw his car veering off the road and driving too close to another car. Kindle's blood alcohol content was reportedly measured at more than twice the legal limit. He was released after posting $10,000 bail.

The T.O. factor. With Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco out, Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer went out and had his best game of the season, slicing and dicing the San Diego Chargers. His passer rating on Sunday was 157.2, just 1.1 points off of perfect. Palmer finished with 269 yards on 16 completions, with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Who needs what. Three division titles remain undecided heading into the final week of the NFL season: the AFC South, NFC South and NFC West.

Indianapolis wins the AFC South by beating Tennessee on Sunday, or if Jacksonville loses to Houston. Atlanta needed a victory Monday night against New Orleans or Sunday against Carolina to take the NFC South. The winner of Sunday's game in Seattle between the Rams and Seahawks wins the NFC West.

While the AFC wild cards belong to the Jets and either the Ravens or Steelers - whichever doesn't take the AFC North - five teams have shots at NFC wild cards: Atlanta, New Orleans, Green Bay, Tampa Bay, and the New York Giants.

To the nurse's office. Baltimore Ravens rookie long snapper Morgan Cox is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and will be placed on injured reserve. . . . Rookie David Nelson is expected to miss the Buffalo Bills' season finale at the New York Jets because of a rib injury, leaving the team down yet another receiver. Nelson was hurt in the second quarter of a 34-3 loss to New England. He was stretched out attempting to make a catch over the middle when he was sandwiched.