Article Title: Nolan builds a staff of confidence
Mike Nolan is a man with a plan. And that plan has one ultimate goal and that is to return the San Francisco 49ers back to a position of dominance and respectability. I honestly believe that this time we have the man that will deliver upon his promises and his image of what the 49ers represent will finally be transcended from it’s glorious past.
Building a coaching staff to assist him in this monument endeavor has been his first priority and personnel are something that Mike Nolan knows a great deal about. He has made calculated and ingenious decisions on which candidates he wants among the ranks of this team. He has a formula that he wants all of his coaches to buy into and firmly believe in and share the vision he has for this team.
Mike Nolan has gone to great lengths already in appealing to all 49ers fans to be patient and that results will come with the right pieces to the puzzle in place. Players are starting to see a vision as well for the first time in a long time as the owner and current management are reborn again into something that we’ve never experienced before. A commitment to excellence and a determination to right all the wrongs that have plagued this franchise like a voodoo doll full of pins and needles.
Mike Nolan has already made an impact with whirlwind announcements of Jerry Sullivan as wide receivers coach and A.J. Christoff as our new secondary coach. But a coordinator on offense was something that was a key link missing and finding the right man for the job was a task daunting and tedious all in one.
Former offensive coordinator Ted Tollner was woefully ineffective as shown last season in his inability alongside Dennis Erickson to manufacture points and or develop a steadfast quarterback.
The West Coast offense was something totally abandoned by this former staff instead relying on a downfield attack that didn’t fit with the personnel we had at the time. We had a very youthful and inexperienced group at wide receiver and a combination of quarterbacks that didn’t have an arm strong enough to supply the aerial attack Erickson and Tollner envisioned.
The West Coast offense was something that should’ve never been shelved as the San Francisco 49ers were a team that feasted upon it’s opponents a great deal of the time with its creator in legendary Bill Walsh. This was the system and still is the best darn system in the NFL today hands down.
Most teams still apply the same principles today and have tweaked it to various degrees to their own individual systems. It was a proven success yesterday and still remains the same way even today.
A Joe Montana protégé was handpicked by Mike Nolan to bring back this legendary system originating from the air we breath inside Monster Park. Mike McCarthy was an offensive quality control coach with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993 and 1994 where he worked alongside none other than the one person that elevated Bill Walsh’s system to a place of regal prominence. That person was quarterback Joe Montana who brought a wealth of originality to the Kansas City Chiefs after his walking papers were handed to him from San Francisco.
“Joe Montana was a major impact on my coaching career,” said McCarthy, 41, who signed a three-year contract to join Mike Nolan’s 49ers coaching staff. “There wasn’t a meeting that Joe was involved in that I was going to miss.” “Joe was pretty much an encyclopedia. He was clearly the teacher and I was playing the pupil during those two years.”
He learned a great deal from our legendary master quarterback and applied those principles in his teachings and philosophies as his career began to blossom. McCarthy spent six seasons in Kansas City and one in Green Bay working with Brett Favre and Mike Holmgren before joining the New Orleans Saints as their offensive coordinator in 2000.
What is so funny about Mike McCarthy is that he had never met Mike Nolan before being interviewed by him for five hours at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. He then accepted the job offer from Mike after already interviewing for jobs with Jacksonville and Detroit. Mike McCarthy is a true believer of the West Coast offense and he’ll use it extensively back in San Francisco where it really belongs for us to get back to basics and have success.
“No. 1, you have to build a system,” McCarthy said. “We’re going to use the West Coast system. We’ll use the system, terminology, language and principles that started here in the glory days. We’re going to put our players in the best position to be successful.”
Mike McCarthy has had great success in the Big Easy as they call it in New Orleans. His offensive group set a total of 35 combined team and individual records. He is credited with developing quarterback Aaron Brooks, running back Deuce McAllister along with ominous wide receivers in Joe Horn and Donte’ Stallworth.
“Mike is a proven coordinator in the NFL that has enjoyed success individually and under a great collection of coaches,” Nolan said. “He will be an integral part of our staff.”
Mike McCarthy’s New Orleans Saints led the National Football Conference in scoring in 2002 with 432 points and 49 touchdowns; the Saints had another record-breaking season in 2003. In 2004 the New Orleans Saints scored 340 points which was the eighth highest in club history, and all four of the team’s scoring totals since the year 2000 under his leadership rank in the club’s all-time top 10.
His records and history of success speak for themselves. And what’s more he’ll be given a lot of rope to run the offense as he wants under Mike Nolan. He brings an infectious energy and is determined to assist Mike Nolan in building something very special again in San Francisco. Mike before joining the NFL coached at the University of Pittsburgh under Coach Paul Hackett from 1989-92.
Help has come to the offensive line as well, something that was the catalyst of all of our offensive ineptitude throughout the 2004 season. Mike Nolan hired a former assistant coach to the offensive line under St. Louis Rams coach Jim Hanifan, who believe it or not is regarded as the guru of offensive-line coaches.
In that I would like to mention our very own in Bob McKittrick as well as being a guru in his own right for what he has done over the many years of building no-name athletes into incredible hulks on the line in terms of strength and leverage.
George Warhop is his name and he joins our staff after spending the last two seasons with Bill Parcells and the Dallas Cowboys as their offensive line coach. His group in Dallas accounted for 3,768 rushing yards, 25 rushing touchdowns and 216 first downs. Prior to Dallas he spent five seasons as the offensive line coach to the Arizona Cardinals.
“George comes highly recommended by his peer and several successful head coaches in the NFL. He is an excellent teacher who has 22 years of experience at both the college and professional level,” Nolan said.
In his five years with the Arizona Cardinals offensive line, George Warhop became a teacher to a group that was struggling to protect its quarterback. He helped navigate them in the drills of protecting the quarterback in which this club registered a high of 78 sacks allowed in 1997 before his arrival.
This is the guy we want for our San Francisco 49ers when you equate what went wrong in our season in witnessing both Tim Rattay and Ken Dorsey literally on their backs for most of the season.
He dropped that high of 78 to 50 in (1998), 45 in (1999), 35 in (2000) and to 29 in (2001). The last was a record of sorts being the second fewest in franchise history in a 16-game season, trailing only a 22-sack total effort of the 1978 offensive line. The Arizona Cardinals not only benefited in gradually being able to protect its quarterback but opened running lanes for their running backs as well.
When you figure in his first year as offensive line coach and made a difference in the line protecting its quarterback dropping it from 78 to 50 a 28-sack difference that is just incredible. His line averaged 4.5-yards per carry on the ground another milestone record for the franchise and in his first year there as offensive line coach his line was credited for 18 rushing touchdowns, which exceeded the two combined totals of the previous two years (eight in 1996 and nine in 1997).
George Warhop is an instant upgrade to this coaching staff and his hiring was well targeted in my opinion by Mike Nolan as an instant remedy. Former offensive line coach Gregg Smith turned out to be a joke literally after failing to make any kind of improvement in a line that allowed its quarterback to be butchered and a rushing game that virtually disappeared after Pat Morris made his exit with Steve Mariucci.
Before George Warhop joined the NFL he served as offensive line coach at the Southern Methodist University in 1993 and a similar capacity at Boston College from 1994-95. He was an offensive coordinator from 1991-92 for the London Monarchs of the World Football League, assisting them in winning the World Bowl in his first season.
In a surprise announcement as well Mike Nolan chose to retain two former coaches from the Dennis Erickson era in special teams coordinator Larry Mac Duff and special teams assistant Jeff Rodgers. Both are regarded as the only true bright spots on the former staff having been successful in upgrading a unit that was virtually dead in the water.
These are bright new coaches on Mike Nolan’s staff, seasoned veteran coaches that will make a great impact in our new season under Mike Nolan. His dream and aspirations are to build a franchise from the very ground up and make it a well functioning machine that generates accountability and covets success as the main priority.
“Again personnel are number one, first and foremost, not just players, but coaches and staff alike. And that’s how we’ll do it. The structural things, when we get all that out together, then we’ll start to implement our structure within the building and within the scheme and with everything else,” Nolan said.
Words that ring great hope in my book, already he’s hired more coaches and a personnel director that will work hand in hand with him. This is a staff I will continue to discuss with you and evaluate as Mike Nolan searches for the confidence boosters we need to carry us into the future.