Article Title: A Miracle at the Podium.
Everyone in the San Francisco Bay Area is elated that it has finally come to tuition. The dismissal of Mike Nolan as the long time czar and head coach of the 49ers has finally happened. It should’ve happened before the 2008 NFL season had even begun. But by some twist of relative fate his career was spared by an ownership that still comes under intense scrutiny and borders on the verge of being considered pure malcontents.
Never in the history of the San Francisco 49ers have we seen a head coach allowed as much rope to hang oneself as we’ve seen with Mike Nolan. The owners in Denise DeBartolo, Dr. John York and now son extraordinaire Jed York were reeled in all hook, line and sinker like the stupid big blue marlin fish they really are, in believing that Mike Nolan was their answer to the Dennis Erickson, Terry Donahue miscue.
Mike Nolan was a charismatic and smooth talking football executive that anyone that had similar connotations would’ve been taken in by. He knows what to say, how to say it and make one believe in it. He did that with the York’s and he did that with the fans. Even I was taken in by his rainbow type conversations at the podium that the old glory days lay still ahead for this proud franchise under his direction.
How was I not to believe in someone after being emotionally castrated by the Dennis Erickson and Terry Donahue era that accumulated following the disastrous decision to dismiss previous head coach Steve Mariucci. Dr. John York was then a man bent on establishing his own personal power base within the framework of this franchise and flipped his nose up at the prospect of Steve Mariucci ever wanting to have a bit more say in personnel decisions.
The stepping down of long time legend Bill Walsh as general manager of this franchise and his suggestion that long time college football guru Terry Donahue take over the reins was yet another pretext towards the inevitable destruction of this once proud dynasty. It has never been right since and that conviction will remain despite this recent dismissal of Mike Nolan as well.
Mike Nolan will now leave behind a team in utter disarray and a management team still scratching their heads as to what the next move should be. Following their 29-17 defeat against the World Champion New York Giants which had tallied their fourth consecutive loss on the 2008 season, ownership along with General Manager Scot McCloughan made the anticipated decision of terminating Mike Nolan’s services with the San Francisco 49ers.
Anyone watching these past four games, New Orleans, New England, Philadelphia and now New York would’ve come to the same conclusion that we have finally found ourselves staring at? A season certain to be lost at (2-5), and another shortened season in which January will feature current coaches, fans and players in various golf tournaments around the country.
It was believed that the organization was thinking about this change taking place after the Week Eight game involving the Seattle Seahawks in which we would’ve been on our bye week of this season. Thus allowing ownership and management to come to a similar consensus and allow time for us to prepare for our next contest without lingering distractions. But General Manager Scot McCloughan referred to some kind of “outside forces,” that compelled them to pull the trigger now rather than later.
Looking back on Mike Nolan’s career with us one can now wonder at what kind of intellectual football skills this coach possessed in some of the challenges he threw the flag out on to the field. Why one wouldn’t go for it on fourth down more? Or why he wasn’t more involved with the mental aspects of communicating with and understanding his quarterback better?
Many a player has left this Bay Area since Mike Nolan’s arrival in 2005. That will include after this year is drawn to a close his absolute sure bet on 2005 first round draft pick University of Utah’s Alex Smith. The quarterback that was supposed to replace the erratic and problematic tendencies of then quarterback Tim Rattay never ever materialized. It turned out to be just more of the same year in and year out.
He has left this team in a state of utter emergency. The 49er offense is still broken and has been broken since Mike McCarthy and Norv Turner left consecutively as offensive coordinators to head coaching positions of their own. Jim Hostler the Norv Turner associate was expected to be the next great thing according to Mike Nolan but turned out to be the worst personnel move of his entire career, as Hostler ran this offense into the ground with it’s own personal tombstone attached.
Hail the era of Mike Martz the anti-West Coast Offense magician. He has an array of ingenious schemes, sets and strategies that have proven to be beneficial to our offense. But what we thought was success in total net yards and time of possession has backfired in the worst turnover percent in the NFL, coupled with penalties and sacks that render this unit as being absolutely pathetic.
The defense a rock of consistency over the past three seasons with improvements from one year to the next, suddenly has fallen straight on to its face. Despite Mike Nolan’s great expertise in the defensive realm of things he has chosen not to believe that his personnel is in need of reshuffling or that he cannot get to the opposing quarterback period?
If we could play just our own special teams both on offense and on the defense for a full 15 minutes per quarter and not be exhausted we probably could win some real games? It has been the only one real bright spot on a team straining to find its own identity from one week to the next. With a lead or just under a lead being within the fourth quarter in each and every game, it has been our very own personal Friday the 13th sequel one right after another. Jason lives to cut us open one more time over and over again. Is there no end in sight to our inability to self-destruct?
Nolan’s failure to identify California’s Aaron Rodgers back in the 2005 NFL Draft as our next quarterback has been very costly. As you can see now by his prominence as the starting quarterback of the Green Bay Packers that whoever did the scouting reports on both Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers back then should be fired as well. Rodgers has turned out to be a stellar West Coast Offense quarterback that has found success in everything he does.
Alex Smith now stands to be the next quarterback bust as it was with Jim Druckenmiller and Giovanni Carmazzi both San Francisco 49er treats in the likes of Rice a’ Roni. J.T. O’Sullivan a six-year gypsy inside the NFL has suddenly become the typical anarchy we have all too much experience with in this position, a proven failure with ten interceptions in four games and a bumbling and fumbling virus that has no real antidote.
J.T. O’Sullivan’s inability to comprehend the pass rush and where it is coming from coupled with the fact that he has absolutely no pocket awareness around him as he carelessly holds and or runs with the ball is enough to make one vomit conclusively. Time and time again you witness and exhale the same thing over and over, yet where are the teachings of Mike Martz and Ted Tollner? Why haven’t they made an impact on this hidden talent that has been pushed into the basement of this league for well over six years? Or maybe there was a legitimate reason why he was on the back burner for all those six years?
I’m clearly not sold on J.T. O’Sullivan. Although he was clearly the winner in the pre-season games and throughout training camp in real life situations he has fallen completely on his face. Mike Martz made preemptive comments earlier in the season that J.T. O’Sullivan may be the greatest quarterback he has ever coached outside of Kurt Warner, Marc Bulger and Jon Kitna. Now we are all looking for a retraction from him on that one.
Mike Nolan had to be thinking right after the New York Giants loss that this was the beginning of the end for him. Although blanketed by a false sense of security he had with General Manager Scot McCloughan, he had to have known that those same ‘outside forces,” Scot made reference to during the press conference following his release were his real executioner.
Again I reiterate that Mike Nolan should’ve been dismissed prior to the 2008 NFL season. Instead Scot McCloughan was made General Manager and trumped Nolan on personnel decisions. His dismissal now signals that the York family was actually listening to those “ outside forces,” coupled with McCloughan’s reluctant suggestion that a move now be made. Mike Nolan bought seven games into this season to try and prove himself and ended with a (2-5) record, he ended his coaching career with an (18-37) record as being an utter cold sore on San Francisco 49er history.
Then linebacker and assistant head coach Mike Singletary is now the new San Francisco 49er head coach with the York family and Scot McCloughan’s blessings. He even received Mike Nolan’s blessing as he stated emotionally as being a prerequisite to taking the job in full confidence. Mike Singletary has been a red hot head coaching prospect for some years now, but it just never seemed to materialize until this situation arose.
Mike Singletary commands and demands respect among all his peers and subjects. Being an All-Pro veteran retired linebacker himself with his famous tenure in Chicago, he believes in playing the game on the same old principles of his fathers and forefathers. Coaches and Players look up to him and marvel at him for his direction, attention to detail and crash lightening motivational speeches he seems to instill self-confidence even into the likes of a door stop that it’s sole purpose is to hold that door open at all times.
History is not on our side in changing a head coach mid-stream like this. Of the NFL teams that have changed a head coach in October more than 80 times since 1930. Only three times and not since 1961 has it resulted in that team making the playoffs. Certainly we cannot rationally believe that we will make the playoffs at this present juncture, but we can try and reach .500 somehow.
I believe that should we show any kind of improvement, especially as it defines itself out on the field then Mike Singletary should be considered the miracle that was introduced at the podium. I believe despite the lateness of the decision that it was the right decision and the right choice among coaches as well. Winning the hearts and minds of these players is exactly what the doctor has ordered and Mike Singletary gives us the best chance at doing just that.
Sources of Information: Mercury News.com, SF Gate.com, Inside Bay Area.com, NFL.com and my own personal analysis and opinion.