New Niners

San Francisco, CA - Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren insists he's not wavering on his plan to spend the 2009 season out of the NFL.

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That has to be good news for the San Francisco 49ers' Mike Singletary, who's already contending with a rumored successor before coaching his first game.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made the 49ers -5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 64% of bets for this game have been placed on the 49ers -5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

Amid speculation that Holmgren could take over in San Francisco next season, Singletary will make his head coaching debut as the 49ers host Holmgren's Seahawks on Sunday in a matchup of NFC West rivals looking for their first wins in more than a month.

The 49ers (2-5) fired coach Mike Nolan on Tuesday after he went 18-37 in nearly 3 1/2 seasons at the helm to post the worst winning percentage (.327) of any San Francisco coach that made it through more than one season with the team.

Singletary was named interim coach, and though he announced no major strategic changes when he was introduced, he thinks he can turn the team's season around with the passion and intensity that made him a star with the Chicago Bears from 1981-92.

"I don't really know ... what button to press here and what button to press there," said the Hall of Fame linebacker and Nolan's assistant since 2003. "I just know what is in my heart. I know that there is a fire that burns in my heart for this team to be successful. And that fire is unconquerable, and it will not die until it comes to pass."

It's unclear how long Singletary will have to turn around the team, and Holmgren could be his biggest rival in the 49ers' hunt for someone to take over the full-time job. In addition to being the NFL's active leader with 171 career wins, Holmgren is a Bay Area native, a former high school coach in San Francisco and a former 49ers assistant.

Despite his ties to the area, Holmgren reiterated on Wednesday that his intention is still to take a sabbatical from football in 2009.

Singletary, meanwhile, is focused on his team's nine remaining games in 2008.

"Right now, the guys realize that we do have something here," he said. "To what degree, I don't know, but we do have something special here. It's a matter of stepping in and being able to bring it together, and that's something I've done all my life."

Indeed, that's exactly why 49ers owner Jed York gave him the job.

"We're not getting outplayed," York said. "We are getting out-intensitied. I don't think that's a word, but I'm going to use it anyway. That's what we need, and that's what Mike Singletary is going to bring."

Singletary has his work cut out for him. San Francisco was limited to 253 total yards in a 29-17 loss to the New York Giants last Sunday, and have turned the ball over three times in each loss during a four-game skid. They have 17 total turnovers in their five losses, compared to one in two victories.

"We've got to turn this thing around," center Eric Heitmann said. "I think everyone on the team feels this isn't the same team we had last year. This is a different team, a much better team. This is a team that should not be 2-5. The character on this team will do everything to turn this around, and it starts right now with Seattle coming up."

Though they're in their 10th season under Holmgren, the Seahawks (1-5) haven't looked much more stable than the 49ers lately. The four-time defending NFC West champions have been outscored 91-33 during a three-game losing streak, failing to reach 200 total yards in any of those games including a season-low 176 in a 20-10 loss to Tampa Bay last Sunday.

"Our confidence on offense isn't where it should be," Holmgren said. "Now we have to keep them going, somehow, some way, and get that confidence we used to have."

Part of the problem is the absence of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who has missed the last two games with a bulging disk in his back that's pressing on a nerve that runs down to his hyperextended right knee, weakening the joint. There's a chance he returns on Sunday.

"That's going to be on a week-to-week, almost day-to-day basis on what the progress is with his rehab," Holmgren said. "The last medical report is that he is feeling better each day. We said last week there is a possibility he will play against San Francisco, and I will say that. There is a possibility he will play this week."

Hasselbeck was 18-for-36 for 189 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions in the Seahawks' 33-30 overtime loss to the 49ers on Sept. 14. San Francisco kicker Joe Nedney won the game with a 40-yard field goal.

Niners quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan was 20-for-32 for 321 yards and a touchdown without an interception against Seattle, but has been picked off nine times during the team's four-game skid.

Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
SEATTLE is 8-6 against the spread versus SAN FRANCISCO since 1992
SEATTLE is 9-5 straight up against SAN FRANCISCO since 1992
7 of 14 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
SAN FRANCISCO is 3-2 against the spread versus SEATTLE over the last 3 seasons 
SAN FRANCISCO is 3-2 straight up against SEATTLE over the last 3 seasons 
4 of 5 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at SAN FRANCISCO since 1992
SEATTLE is 4-2 against the spread versus SAN FRANCISCO since 1992
SEATTLE is 4-2 straight up against SAN FRANCISCO since 1992
3 of 6 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at SAN FRANCISCO over the last 3 seasons.
SAN FRANCISCO is 1-1 against the spread versus SEATTLE over the last 3 seasons 
SAN FRANCISCO is 1-1 straight up against SEATTLE over the last 3 seasons 
2 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[WR] Deion Branch is out indefinitely - Heel - 10/07/08
[WR] Logan Payne IR - Knee - 09/15/08
[RG] Rob Sims IR - Pectoral - 09/09/08
[LB] Wesley Mallard IR. - Knee - 08/06/08
(!) [QB] Matt Hasselbeck injured last game probable - Knee - 10/05/08
[RB] Maurice Morris is upgraded to probable - Knee - 10/07/08
[WR] Koren Robinson missed last game, "?" - Knee - 10/05/08
[WR] Nate Burleson IR - Knee - 09/08/08
[CB] Kelly Jennings injured last game, "?" - Concussion - 10/05/08
[WR] Ben Obomanu IR - Shoulder - 08/31/08
[LB] Manny Lawson missed last game %27?%27 - Hamstring - 10/05/08
[S] Michael Lewis injured last game, "?" - Elbow - 10/06/08
[CB] Shawntae Spencer is out indefinitely - Knee - 09/24/08
[QB] Alex Smith IR - Shoulder - 09/07/08
[OT] Jonas Jennings missed last game %27?%27 - Shoulder - 10/05/08

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Posted: 10/22/08 8:09 PM

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