The San Francisco 49ers lost their first two games after Mike Singletary was promoted to head coach last year, but won five of their last seven to end the season.
If there was any doubt that the team is buying into the new coach’s methods, it was erased last week when the 49ers opened their season with a road win against the defending NFC champions, the Arizona Cardinals.
Suddenly the Seahawks’ first road game of the year looks a little more challenging.
Heading into the season, the popular opinion was that the Seahawks and Arizona would battle for the NFC West title, but with last weekend’s win over the Cardinals, San Francisco served notice that the division has another contender.
“It was big for us,” 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said in a conference call. “We put a lot of work in the off-season on getting better and trying to get this team back to the glory days.”
Willis, one of the league’s top linebackers, leads a defense that is trying to play much like the team’s head coach did during his Hall of Fame career.
“His whole mentality has been just creating our identity so when people say the 49ers, and they don’t say, ‘Well what kind of football team are they?’ ” Willis said. “He wants the other team to know what our identity is, and its hard-nosed football, disciplined, smart, relentless.”
Off to a 1-0 start, the 49ers are hoping to validate last week’s win by beating the Seahawks to establish an early lead in the standings.
To do so, San Francisco hopes first and foremost to get its run game going. Last weekend the 49ers won despite just 30 rushing yards from Frank Gore, the team’s top offensive weapon.
“We just have to block better, that’s really all you can say,” Singletary said. “It’s not a long philosophical explanation, we just have to block better.”
That San Francisco still found a way to win with Gore held in check could make for a tough Sunday for the Seahawks.
“You go on the road and arguably your best offensive player gets taken out of the game, and you win it?” Seahawks coach Jim Mora said. “That says a lot about them.”
Kolb ready to go
Kevin Kolb appears set to get his welcomed starting chance against New Orleans on Sunday. Donovan McNabb is doubtful because of a fractured rib and sat out practice for the third straight day Friday.
The Eagles haven’t completely ruled out McNabb, leaving open the slim chance that the quarterback who once threw four touchdown passes on a broken ankle can gut out a rib injury against the Saints.
Kolb, who has never thrown a TD pass in eight career games, is ready to start.
“In my mind, I’m the starter,” he said. “That’s the way I have to think of it.”
Kolb would get the start ahead of Jeff Garcia, who signed Tuesday as an emergency backup. Michael Vick, suspended for the first two regular-season games as the final league penalty for his role in running a dogfighting ring, is not eligible until Week 3 against Kansas City.
Around the league
LaDainian Tomlinson has been ruled out of the Chargers’ home opener against the Ravens on Sunday with a sprained ankle. … The NFL fined Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers $7,500 for taunting in Monday night’s victory at Oakland. … The NFL fined Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson $10,000 for a hit on San Francisco receiver Vernon Davis last Sunday. … Bills cornerback Terrence McGee has signed a four-year contract extension. Terms have not been announced. … The NFL fined Redskins receiver Santana Moss and Giants cornerback Corey Webster $5,000 apiece for their tussle during last week’s game.