Mike Singletary makes it quite clear that he wants another shot at being an NFL head coach. The Hall of Fame linebacker also makes it perfectly clear that he believes there will be a next time despite a rocky first experience in San Francisco.
"I wouldn't be here if I didn't think there would be a next time," said Singletary, Vikings special assistant to the head coach/linebackers. "How long will it take? I don't know. When the Lord is ready, I'll be ready."
Singletary will be at Mall of America Field for Sunday's game against the 49ers. The last time the 49ers were here -- Week 3 in 2009 -- Singletary was their head coach.
"There are no special feelings for me, one way or the other," said Singletary, whose 49ers were beaten here in 2009 when Brett Favre threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Greg Lewis with 2 seconds left. "The 49ers will always be a special team to me. I loved it there. I am very, very thankful for everything they did for my family.
"I didn't have a lot of experience, but they gave me the job. And the experience I got will help me on this journey. The next time around, I'll make sure I have everything in order. I'll be better prepared for the challenge."
Singletary was head coach in San Francisco from the final nine games of 2008 through the 15th game of 2010. He posted an 18-22 record before being fired. Since then, the 49ers are 17-4, including 16-4 under Jim Harbaugh, the reigning Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year.
"Obviously, there are moments when you think about what could have been," Singletary said. "The year they had last year [going 13-3 and reaching the NFC Championship Game], I truly thought we were going to have it the year before. But we weren't ready for it."
Singletary had some highlights. In 2008, he took a team that started 2-5 under Mike Nolan and finished 5-4 as an interim. In 2009, his 8-8 record was San Francisco's first non-losing record since 2002. But all of it unraveled when the team started 0-5 in 2010.
"Sometimes the coach can weather the storm, and sometimes he can't," Singletary said. "I couldn't weather the storm."
Ironically, the level of intensity that made Singletary one of the greatest players in NFL history is what contributed to his downfall as a head coach the first time around. Singletary, who never had served higher than a position coach in his first five years as a coach, once apologized for losing his temper by saying how he regretted not having more "coaching etiquette."
In his debut as an interim head coach, Singletary chewed out tight end Vernon Davis on the sideline and sent him to the locker room with 10 minutes left in a 34-13 loss to Seattle. Davis had just drawn a personal foul for slapping Seahawks safety Brian Russell after making a reception. Singletary singled Davis out in his postgame news conference, saying he was "uncoachable."
"I would have done my son the same way that I did Vernon that day," Singletary said this week. "I hope I dealt with it the right way. Thankfully, things have worked out well for Vernon since then."
Davis, one of the NFL's top tight ends, had a breakout season in 2009, catching 78 passes for 965 yards and 13 touchdowns. As for Singletary, he's waiting patiently for his second chance.
"I always feel everything happens for a reason," he said. "I'm really happy for the 49ers. I wish Jim Harbaugh the best. He knew what he was getting. I had a chance to visit with him before I left. He thanked me and said, 'This is a good team.'
"For me, I feel I came to the end of a challenge. You can't help but grow or get bitter from it. And bitter, that's not me."