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Former 49ers Coach Mike Singletary Says He Vetoed Trade for Ben Roethlisberger in 2009

Bears legend and former 49ers coach Mike Singletary is looking to get back into the NFL coaching ranks. In a new profile from The Athletic, Singletary revealed he shot down what would have been a blockbuster trade for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in 2009.

According to Singletary, San Francisco owner John York, CEO Jed York and director of player personnel Trent Baalke had a deal with Pittsburgh in place. The franchise was willing to trade the future Hall of Fame quarterback at the time after a civil suit was filed alleging Roethlisberger had sexually assaulted a woman in Nevada

Singletary said he felt “an obligation” to then 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, a former No. 1 pick who struggled early in his career with the team. He also felt that adding Roethlisberger at that time would have betrayed the message he was preaching to his team, so he “vetoed” the trade.

“I had been telling the team I wanted a team of character,” he told The Athletic. “I felt I had to be true to that. But if I could do it again, I’d do it differently.”

The 2009 lawsuit against Roethlisberger ended in a December ’11 settlement. The quarterback was investigated for a separate incident in 10 at a Georgia nightclub, but he was never charged. Roethlisberger was suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for four games at the start of the ’10 season due to a violation of the league's personal conduct policy. 

Roethlisberger had captured two Super Bowls as Pittsburgh’s starter in four seasons when the potential trade was presented to Singletary. Roethlisberger went on to reach six Pro Bowls, and he led the league in passing twice. On Thursday, he announced his retirement after 18 seasons.

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Singletary led the 49ers to a 5–4 record after taking over for Mike Nolan in 2008, but he struggled to put his stamp on the franchise after having the interim tag removed. San Francisco went 8–8 in ’09, and he was fired after a 5–10 start to the ’10 season.

Singletary coached a high school team in ’18 and the Association of American Football's Memphis Express in ’19, but he has struggled to land new opportunities in the NFL. Now, he's looking to make a case to join the Bears, who he played for in all 12 NFL seasons. Chicago fired coach Matt Nagy in January after a disappointing season.

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“I believe I can be one of the greatest coaches ever, a better coach than I was a player,” Singletary told The Athletic. “There’s no doubt in my mind. I’ve had experience, and more importantly, I’ve failed. I really believe now is the time for Mike Singletary and the Bears to come together again and for them to trust me again with the organization.”

The Bears are reportedly set to hire Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus for the position, according to a Thursday report by Ian Rapoport.

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