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NFL: Week 16

49ers developing a game plan

Singletary fired; York seeks advice

Drew Brees and the Saints handed the Falcons their first home loss last night, 17-14. Drew Brees and the Saints handed the Falcons their first home loss last night, 17-14. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Associated Press / December 28, 2010

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San Francisco 49ers president and CEO Jed York is turning to his uncle, former team owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., for advice on how to fix the underachieving franchise.

DeBartolo will serve as a consultant in the process of finding a general manager, and York also plans to talk to Patriots president Jonathan Kraft about what works so well for New England. Only after a GM is in place will a new coach be hired, and there’s no timetable. Jim Tomsula will coach the 49ers for all of a week, and his bosses have said they expect him to win.

The promoted defensive line coach took charge of the downtrodden team yesterday, a day after the 49ers fired Mike Singletary late Sunday upon returning to team headquarters following a 25-17 loss at St. Louis that eliminated San Francisco from playoff contention. Also fired were pass rush specialist coach Al Harris and inside linebackers coach Vantz Singletary, the former coach’s nephew.

York said he had considered the coaching change in recent weeks.

“Obviously we had expectations of being a playoff-caliber team this year. Whether we were a 7-9 division winner or not didn’t matter to me,’’ York said. “I wanted to make sure that the San Francisco 49ers had an opportunity to compete for a Super Bowl, which I felt like we had every expectation to do that. When that was not realized, I wanted to make sure we were setting ourselves up for the remainder of the season but more importantly for next season.’’

San Francisco (5-10), which hasn’t had a winning record since its last trip to the postseason in 2002, finishes the season at home Sunday against last-place Arizona.

“We’re going to win. Let me make that clear,’’ Tomsula said.

Coaches corner Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has had nearly two months to get a head start on hiring his next coach. He says he’s put it to good use. Although Jones said yesterday he hasn’t contacted anyone — even informally — he has been doing background work on his list of candidates. He said he will have fewer candidates than last time, when he had around 10. He also offered no timetable. Interim coach Jason Garrett seems to have a head start, especially having gone 4-3 with a club that had been 1-7. Jones called the team’s loss at Arizona on Saturday night a “neutral’’ in his evaluation. Asked about former Super Bowl-winning coaches on the market, Jones noted that no coach has ever won a Super Bowl with two franchises . . . Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said he has talked by phone with owner Stephen Ross about the team’s disappointing 2010 season, and looks forward to further discussions regarding his future and the direction of the team. “I’m pretty confident that I can get it turned around,’’ said Sparano, whose 7-8 Dolphins finish the season Sunday against the Patriots. “I feel like I know these pieces pretty well.’’ . . . Browns coach Eric Mangini, also reportedly on the hot seat, has the backing of his players. “I have the utmost respect for him,’’ cornerback Sheldon Brown said. “I can’t say anything negative about him. You may find someone else, but I can’t. He’s treated me like a man from day one.’’ Fullback Lawrence Vickers, one of the NFL’s most devastating blockers, cleared a path for his coach. “I love Mangini,’’ Vickers said. “He’s a good guy, so I want him back.’’ . . . Texans coach Gary Kubiak has deflected questions about his future for weeks, and he did it again yesterday, saying he’s only focused on Sunday’s finale vs. the Jaguars. “I wouldn’t answer the question any differently,’’ he said. “I’m concerned about trying to get ready to win a game.’’ Kubiak’s contract runs through the 2012 season . . . Chargers president Dean Spanos told the San Diego Union-Tribune that coach Norv Turner and GM A.J. Smith will return next season despite the team missing the playoffs.

The wait is over While the Vikings ate cheesesteaks and acted like tourists, the Eagles savored a division title they clinched from their couches. Both teams had to wait another day to play the first NFL game on a Tuesday in 64 years tonight in Philadelphia. The Vikings-Eagles game was switched from Sunday night to tonight because of a winter storm before any snow had even accumulated. About a foot of snow fell on Philadelphia, though less than 5 inches was on the ground before the scheduled kickoff at 8:20 p.m. EST. By yesterday morning, it was bright and sunny at Lincoln Financial Field . . . Rookie receiver David Nelson is expected to miss the Bills’ season finale at the Jets because of a rib injury . . . Buccaneers rookie receiver Arrelious Benn has a torn ligament in his left knee and will miss the remainder of the season . . . Redskins defensive lineman Joe Joseph was arrested on charges of driving under the influence early yesterday morning in Leesburg, Va., less than 24 hours after making his NFL debut. He was booked around 3 a.m. after deputies responded to a report of a single-vehicle accident shortly after midnight. He was released on his own recognizance.

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