This is the story of a coach who got in over his head. A man of impeccable integrity. A former player and Hall of Famer who played a violent game with the requisite aggression but never lost his humanity.
A coach named Mike Singletary.
A coach named Art Shell.
The 49ers and Raiders live a parallel existence and want no part of being compared to the other, so it's doubtful anyone with the 49ers even considered what happened with Shell when they were hiring Singletary.
Singletary became coach of the 49ers and wanted to mold them to the image of Mike Ditka's Chicago Bears.
Dominating defense. Hard-nosed, fairly conservative offense.
Shell got his second chance to coach the Raiders in 2006 with plans to bring back the glory days of the Silver and Black.
Vertical strike capability with seven-step drops and a punishing running attack. A defensive philosophy that cries out, "Our players are better than yours."
Singletary wasn't afraid to lay down the law. He ordered tight end Vernon Davis from the field and by his second year had players such as Kentwan Balmer and Michael Lewis simply leave the team.
Shell got into it with wide receiver Jerry Porter shortly after taking the job over Porter's refusal to take part in the offseason program and essentially put him on ice for the entire season.
With the 49ers offense struggling mightily under Jimmy Raye, Singletary's handpicked coordinator, San Francisco switched during the season to the younger, more contemporary Mike Johnson.
When the Raiders offense struggled under Tom Walsh, who like Shell had spent a dozen years out of football, they switched to quarterbacks coach John Shoop, who attempted to modernize the offense on the fly.
Singletary, in reaction to a Yahoo! Sports story criticizing Raye and the 49ers' lack of offensive organization, said there was a "rat and a coward" in the building, referring to the unattributed sources on which the article was based.
Early in 2006, Shell, growing tired of anonymous references critical to Walsh in the national media, said he suspected a "fox in the henhouse" who was undermining his stature, implicating but never naming executive Mike Lombardi.
Through it all, Singletary publicly remains convinced the 49ers are on course, despite rumors of his eventual demise. Steady as she goes. The club will be better for all the adversity it endured.
Shell, despite an ESPN story saying he would be fired, believed he had the Raiders on the right track and was convinced things would be better in 2007.
If Singletary wants to know how this ends, he should call Shell.
Jumping to more Week 8 conclusions:
Kansas City's four wins are against teams that are a combined 8-20. The Chiefs' next four games are against teams that are a combined 8-18, and of their next eight games, only one team -- Seattle (4-2) -- currently has a winning record.
That's what the Cleveland Browns did to defensive coordinator Rob Ryan after a 30-17 win over New Orleans.
By the numbers: 52.6 -- The average number of combined points per game last week. It was the highest average for a week in 27 years (54.4 in Week 7, 1983).
Quotable: "It was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I think I won the prize. People were impressed that the president was able to break away to attend a school Halloween party," Patriots coach Bill Belichick on his favorite Halloween memory in a rare light moment with local media.
Game of the week: Houston at Indianapolis. Texans become legitimate if they can finish season sweep of Colts.
Game of the weak: Denver vs. San Francisco at Wembley Stadium, London. Commissioner Roger Goodell is hinting about a franchise in the UK. On Monday, the UK says thanks, but no thanks.
Contact Jerry McDonald at email@example.com.