SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -Although Eric Mangini can't remember the exact year or the reason for Mike Singletary's visit to his high school, the Hall of Fame linebacker had a big impact on the New York Jets' future coach.
``I remember thinking that day how impressive it was that this guy took the time to come talk to us,'' Mangini said when recalling that late '80s meeting at Bulkeley High School in Hartford, Conn.
``He had a great message,'' Mangini added. ``He spent some time with us during the course of the day, with the football team. He spoke to the whole school, but then spent some time with the team afterwards. I remember thinking that if I'm ever in a position to help others, like he was at that point, I'd like to do it.''
's visit with part of the inspiration for The Carmine and Frank Mangini Foundation, a children's charity founded by Mangini and his brother, Kyle.
``Any time that you have an opportunity to make a difference or say something that brings about thought-provoking ideas in someone's head, you're doing something right,'' said Singletary, who also doesn't remember the exact date of the visit. ``That's the bottom line in life. If we can make a difference wherever we go and in whatever we're doing, then we're doing something worthwhile.''
But while Singletary just started out in coaching in 2003 before getting the San Francisco 49ers' top job six weeks ago, the 37-year-old Mangini is comparatively a grizzled veteran of their mutual profession. His Jets (8-4) are closing in on a playoff spot and the AFC East title, while Singletary has only recently begun to coax decent play out of the 49ers, who will clinch their sixth consecutive losing season with one more defeat.
After winning two of their past three games, the 49ers (4-8) are pinning their hopes for Sunday on disrupting Brett Favre, who struggled along with his teammates in the Jets' inexplicable 34-17 home loss to the Denver Broncos last week, ending a five-game winning streak.
the quarterback also incurred one of the toughest losses of his career at Candlestick in January 1999, when Terrell Owens' last-minute TD catch lifted San Francisco to a 30-27 win in Mike Holmgren's final game as Packers coach.
Many 49ers have ample experience with Favre, either as an opponent or a teammate. Safety Mark Roman spent more than two seasons in Green Bay before joining the Niners in 2006.
``I remember a few games where we saw him, and we were thinking, 'Man, I wish we were playing against Brett right now,''' Roman said with a laugh. ``But you can't go into Sunday hoping that Brett will show up, because he can be really good, or he can throw you a few.''
New York and Favre will have a chance to get back on track against the 49ers before finishing the playoff push with two home games against division foes, with a trip to Seattle sandwiched in between.
Despite a solid defensive effort in the Niners' 10-3 win over Buffalo last week, few offenses have struggled this season against San Francisco. The 49ers rank in the bottom half of the league in most statistical categories, including pass defense, where it's close to the Jets' own woeful numbers.
Given the Jets' defensive stumbles in Denver's 484-yard performance and 49ers quarterback Shaun Hill's steady improvement through four starts, all signs point to a shootout in San Francisco.
ashington both have impressive numbers, the 49ers hope to counter with another big home game from Frank Gore, who will join Jones among the NFL's 1,000-yard rushers with 74 more yards.
In last week's win over the Bills, the 49ers' offense couldn't get in the end zone after its opening possession, but the defense surprisingly took charge in the type of gritty, low-scoring win that hasn't been San Francisco's strength in many years. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz is hoping that the victory will spark his offense, which is improved from last season's league-worst unit, but still not a bragging point.
``We're not taking anything for granted because of what happened to them last week,'' Hill said. ``We're not at the point where we can get too confident about our abilities.''

NFL Team Pages

Recent NFL Discussions