The NFL’s “Team of the ’80s” will now have its fourth coach in 10 years.
Mike Nolan is out as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, according to a report Monday on ESPN.com.
And it’s about time.
Nolan, son of 49ers’ icon Dick Nolan, coached the the team to an 18-37 record (a .327 winning percentage) and ZERO playoff appearances in three-plus seasons beginning in 2005.
The job now goes to defensive coordinator Mike Singletary, the former Chicago Bears linebacking great and an NFL Hall-of-Famer. He’ll bring his trademark intensity and take-no-prisoners attitude. Hopefully, those attributes can transform this hapless team and translate into more victories.
Singletary’s obvious abililty to coach aside, this firing is way more about Nolan’s inability to turn around a team despite a number of top draft picks, including 2005 No. 1 overall Alex Smith. It was Nolan’s decision to go to journeyman QB J.T. O’Sullivan ahead of Smith that probably sealed his fate with the organization. 49ers’ brass spent a ton of money on Smith and then had to watch him just hold a clipboard on the sidelines this season while the offense STILL struggled. And at 2-5, with four consecutive losses, it finally became too much to bear.
Nolan and Smith’s public falling out last season made a bad situation worse. Often injured, Smith was finally healthy toward the tail end of 2007 but Nolan decided the team was in better hands with guys like Sean Hill (who?) and Cody Pickett (huh?).
In my mind, choosing Hill/Pickett over Smith was the final straw. Nolan was going to be fired, it was just a matter of time. And hiring the inept Mike Martz as offensive coordinator only showed how little Nolan knew about running an offense.
This may be because Nolan is a defensive guy. He drafted talented linebackers Manny Lawson and Patrick Willis and was able to sign free-agent All-Pro corner Nate Clements. Yet the defense was allowing 25.5 points per game during his tenure, second worst all-time for a coach of more than 50 games.
Obviously, defense was no longer his strong suit. At least not as strong as those suits he had taken to wearing on the sidelines. For a coach with such style, it’s unfortunate he was unable to infuse his team with anything more than a losing atmosphere.