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It's not official yet. But it's getting pretty darn close. Barring some unforeseen event, Mike Singletary will be the 49ers head coach in 2009, perhaps as soon as the Monday after the team's finale against the Redskins, according to a source close to the situation. When team officials, including owner Jed York, made Singletary the 49ers' interim coach in late October, they told him that the team would have to show progress in order for him to keep his job. They have done just that, going 4-4 under Singletary. But Singletary sealed the deal - or came tantalizingly close to doing so - on Monday when he met with team officials and laid out his plan for the future, including both offense and defense. Singletary's vision had been the one remaining question in the minds of team officials.

Under Singletary, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky would be retained. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz, however, would not. With Martz directing the offense, the 49ers have climbed from dead last in the league in total offense to 24th this season. But Martz's pass-first mentality, on display in recent games against Miami and St. Louis, clashes with Singletary's ball-control philosophy. It also seems to be at odds with the type of players the 49ers have drafted on offense in recent years. Singletary not only discussed his offensive philosophy in the Monday meeting, he cited several candidates to take over at offensive coordinator next season. Those names are not yet known, although they are believed to include both current head coaches and assistants. The 49ers' biggest concern is for offensive continuity over the next several seasons.

The 49ers are prevented from signing Singletary to an extension during the season. However, they are prepared to move quickly as soon as Sunday's game against the Redskins is over. About the only thing that could prevent Singletary's hiring at this point would be if there were a string of firings around the league and Singletary became a hot candidate. The 49ers apparently are prepared to move quickly to prevent that.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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