Article Title: Throw Nolan under the bus.
The 2007 San Francisco 49ers were nothing short of their former selves in being filleted down the center and quartered at the hands of the Minnesota Viking sword in a 27-7 defeat that left the 49ers relying on third-string career kneel-down quarterback Shaun Hill. Right before the half Trent Dilfer, 35, was knocked unconscious in a valiant but futile effort to convert on a fourth down play by cornerback Charles Gordon’s rock solid shoulder contact.
The scene before the Monster Park crowd that is becoming more and more sparse as the season wears on in utter futility, hushed to some degree as the 49er medical staff and Mike Nolan himself visited Trent. The fact he got up and was able to walk off the field under some guidance was a blessing in its own right as his life has been nothing short of wanting to be a competitor each and everyday.
Trent Dilfer finally succumbed to the evil spirits that have taken possession of this team from the foundation all the way up to the very top of the ladder where ownership is perched. Trent Dilfer although severely handicapped because of his age and mediocre performance on the field from one week to the other was always a competitor that gave of himself to others and his teammates.
Now with Trent Dilfer knocked out and Alex Smith just recently placed on the IR list to prepare himself for an articulate shoulder surgery to repair the damage he sustained and worsened by being compelled to play through the pain on several games following the bye week is telling his story of the sarcasm, and utter isolation he felt in being made to feel inferior because of that injury.
The story was yet another shocking revelation to a season that had so much anticipation and promise from the very start and now finds itself dug very deep in an underground bunker below the rest of the living within the Western Division of the National Football Conference. The San Francisco 49ers have given all season ticket holders a legitimate reason to cry mutiny and abandon ship within the empty confounds of Monster Park Stadium.
The passionate Boo’s and senseless grumbling from the lips of fans around Monster Park that once was the vision of envy from fan and players alike is nothing more than watching a massacre happen in the arena of death dating back to the Gladiator years of the Old Roman Empire. It has turned to such a soar and sadistic note that some fans were even suggesting that certain players were better off being eliminated physically in order for others to be seen and experimented with.
The very fibers that define this team and compel players to perform are starting to fray from one end to the other under San Francisco 49er quarterback Alex Smith’s clear and calculated animosity he conveyed to Mercury News reporters regarding his relationship with head coach Mike Nolan. Alex Smith has crossed that fine line that exists between a head coach and as the vocal and most recognized leader of the team. A quarterback’s displeasure for his head coach encourages that disease to spread and cause further disability that can eat away from the roots on upwards.
A quarterback’s reputations in the locker room and out on the field are the sacred elements that one needs to lead and provide motivation to. Mike Nolan us accused of taking that from Alex and using it to highlight the season’s plight. Injuries are not an excuse for poor performance according to what Mike Nolan has made reference to regarding Alex Smith in the games he continued to play following a brief rest to heal his grade three separation in his shoulder he had sustained earlier in September.
Alex was and still is thought to be the future of this franchise, because he was drafted with the number one pick the 49ers held in the 2005 NFL draft. Mike Nolan’s clear expectations were for Alex Smith to be a passionate and resolute leader of this football team and carry it to some degree upon his shoulders from time to time.
When mediocre performance prevailed yet again at the beginning of the 2007 season and the shattering injury sustained itself catapulting Trent Dilfer into the mix to watch him fall apart because of seasons gone by with little to no effective playing time, the pressure upon Mike Nolan and his staff to find answers and ultimately scapegoats began the pressure cooker we all finds ourselves inside right now ready to explode.
Communication has been a factor in evaluating what was then and what is now between Alex Smith and Mike Nolan. Obviously Mike was satisfied to some degree that no news was good news to some degree in that we all witnessed Alex following his brief stint to heal the shoulder separation naturally without surgery wasn’t working as planned when sports analysts and fans alike witnessed the grimacing and visual motions of distress and pain reflected from his face and body movements themselves.
Players are afraid to speak their minds and not agree with the mandates that Mike Nolan has set in place within the compound at Santa Clara and beyond wherever they may go. His word is the word of God. He is the alpha head honcho in the building and he has the last word on all matters to such a degree he has been referenced to Adolph Hitler. Some rumblings on record from players purged over the three seasons Mike Nolan took control may have been legitimate cries of help and reference to a ruthless tyrant granted far too many powers to be by owners that live and conduct business thousands of miles away.
With no real general manager inside the building Mike Nolan has been entrusted to drive the team in whatever fashion he desires and to wherever he chooses based upon the personnel he ultimately weighs in on to swear allegiance to him and only him. If you are not with the mandates he has set and scripted in stone chances are you’ll find your carcass outside of Santa Clara staring inside and wondering why?
Many have left because of various reasons. But some have left as indicated by Alex Smith in relating the “undermining,” factor to certain individuals to the point that it creates mental disabilities a player either copes with or cracks from. Kevan Barlow, Fred Beasley, Terry Jackson. Jamie Winborn, Mike Rumph, Brandon Lloyd, Antonio Bryant, Jeremy Newberry, T.J. Slaughter, Tony Parrish, Eric Johnson, Jason McAddley and Marcus Maxwell are but a few of the players that have seen their walking papers from Mike Nolan with various flavors of comments.
We are the absolute worst in total offense in the NFL and have shown no improvements to tell about with three games remaining on the regular schedule? Ted Tollner brought in as an offensive assistant can’t stop the arterial bleeding on this offense to any degree as explained in the last few losses following the victory in overtime over the Arizona Cardinals.
Mike Nolan’s stubbornness and evasion of the many pinpointed questions regarding the state of the 49er offense time and time again lead us to believe he doesn’t have the intuitive intelligence to diagnose and manifest change within the ranks of his own staff. Sometimes despite the notion you never change the hand your dealt with you just keep playing, it is time to fold that hand and start anew.
Games won are what ultimately count. Being satisfied with (3-10) as a San Francisco 49er is hypocrisy and lunacy. We were down 27-0 at halftime in this game and only came back with one successful offensive drive in the third quarter under Shaun Hill to score our lone touchdown. Five turnovers in this game sealed the deal for the Minnesota Vikings to think playoffs.
To stay with the status quo has been the mandate of this coaching staff. We accept the offensive futility we see out on the field. 49er fans are resigned to just turn their heads and accept the inevitable truth that we are probably the worst team outside of the Miami Dolphins in the entire NFL at this time. Fans on numerous 49er sites continue to air their frustrations on blog and message boards many calling for the overthrow of even the ownership themselves because of the combined failures with instituting the Dennis Erickson era to now the Mike Nolan era of doom.
Outside of accepting a general manager to come in and share power to firing his entire offensive staff to hiring a seasoned and well-known offensive genius to take command of this Walt Disney type of offense, I see little that Mike Nolan can do to sooth the inflamed infection he has already allowed to grow from the inside out. Players are exhausted from losing as was the indication of 14-year veteran Bryant Young providing crystal clear indication that this will be the last year he plays as a defensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers because it has been the most “puzzling,” and frustrating season of his career.
Still the boiling pot froths over as Marques Douglass comes to the conclusion that losing is all we know and understand? Vernon Davis elite superstar of a tight end has suggested that the offense doesn’t know what it is doing because he is not the prime target as he should be, by being the playmaker he was intended to be. Dropped passes, turnovers, poor blocking, pass protection and undisciplined talent has eroded this offense to be incapable of ever doing anything better then it already does and that is to lose and lose big.
Eddie DeBartolo former San Francisco 49er owner stands by and shakes his head at what his family has done to the team he took on his personal sleeve and cared so much about. He was involved and showed genuine interest in all the details and daily routines of what it was like to be an owner of an undisputed champion in the NFL. He still makes the 49er faithful rise up off their collective seats and applaud his apparent contributions and convictions for this franchise. If only he was still our owner?
Bill Walsh legendary creator of the West Coast Offense recently passed away watched his old team unravel and struggle one season to the next disturbed by the images he believed was a turning point in that we went from dynasty to being the damned. His legendary offensive genius is something cast out as a relic now in that the Don Coryell Offense we know as the anti-West Coast Offense has replaced his philosophies and principles.
Alex Smith despite his injuries and his amendment that Mike Nolan berated him in front of his teammates clearly is not the immediate future of this franchise. Maybe Jeff Garcia could’ve been the last quarterback anointed by Bill Walsh to assume the under-center stance on this football team. If Jeff had remained with a new contract we very well could have seen more playoff encounters and had someone that always displayed immaculate emotion on and off the field that instantly motivated the soldiers to fight on around him.
Steve Mariucci could’ve helped us achieve those same goals had he still been our head coach but was unceremoniously dumped because he was “only interested,” in acquiring more say on personnel matters that challenged the ego of owner Dr. John York who up to now has given all power to a tyrant reluctant to throw anyone under the bus to institute change. Now is it time for Mike Nolan himself to do the honorable thing and place himself or be thrown under that same bus?
We will all wait and see as this saga plays out. I hope that Mike Nolan can come to terms with what is being said about him and analyze it like he does to prepare the team for it’s next game. I’m as exhausted as all of you at losing week in and week out.
Ownership without a general manager must indicate it honestly cares about what is going on. It must make the calls and take care of the unpleasant aspects of running a profitable business. Owning and operating a successful football team hasn’t been one of their assets by a long shot. Maybe they should swallow their collective pride and patch things up with Eddie DeBartolo and simply ask the pointed question: “So Eddie what do you think and what would you do?” Finding renewed love for your brother might not be all that bad?
Sources of Information: Mercury News.com, SF Gate.com, Inside Bay Area.com, NFL.com and my own personal analysis and opinion.