49ers fire Mike Nolan and Promote Mike Singletary

In a move you could see coming from a mile away, the San Francisco 49ers fired their head coach Mike Nolan on Monday night.  The move wasn’t a total surprise, but the timing definitely was a shocker.  Surprisingly the firing happened just seven games into the season as the Niners gave Nolan his walking papers rather than waiting for the traditional “firing point” of the bye week (week 9).  Apparently the Niners owners (the York Family) had seen enough after witnessing in person another calamity filled loss this time at the Meadowlands.  On Sunday the Giants did just enough to gain a 29-17 win over the reeling Niners sending them to their four straight loss after an encouraging 2-1 start – last in the NFL in many categories including defense points allowed (196).

Nolan became the third NFL coach to be dismissed during the 2008 season, joining Oakland’s Lane Kiffin and St. Louis’ Scott Linehan. The former Baltimore Ravens assistant, who rose quite quickly in the coaching ranks from linebackers coach to head coach/GM of the Niners (named in January 2005), finishes with a record18-37 in 3½ seasons with the 49ers.  Everyone understands that the well dressed Nolan – fought to have head coaches where suits on the sidelines like old-time coaches like his father Dick Nolan and Hank Stram — had a tough task returning the Niners back to respectability given the in-fighting in the team’s ownership group between the York’s and former owner Eddie DeBartolo.  But there is no hiding from his franchise worst winning percentage of (.327) over his 55 game tenure.  I believe Nolan’s undoing was that as a personnel evaluator he failed miserably.  The Niners too often reached for players in the higher rounds of draft causing drastic gaps in talent at key positions.  The main guy that Nolan drastically missed on was 2005 NFL Draft first overall pick quarterback Alex Smith.  The former star from Utah struggled under Nolan, which led to animosity and a very public feud over the passer’s bum shoulder that ended with Smith being placed on injured reserve for the entire ’08 season and journeyman JT O’Sullivan taking over as the ’08 starter.

Niners General Manager Scot McCloughan said of the firing, “The decision was difficult, because Mike has been both a friend and valued coach of our team”.  McCloughan added, “My first obligation is to do what is in the best interest of our fans and the entire 49ers organization.”  The reins of one of the NFL’s proudest franchises now falls to more than capable 49ers assistant head coach Mike Singletary. The former Hall of Fame linebacker for the Chicago Bears will take over for the rest of the season, but I have a strong filling given the respect for Singletary around the NFL.  I have been a proponent of the smart, disciplined, and well-prepared coach ever since I saw in person his teachings at the Senior Bowl the past couple of years.  The former 1985 Super Bowl Champion Bears vocal leader now gets his chance after being passed over a couple of times after interviewing for a couple of other vacancies around the league.

The Singletary era begins this Sunday at home as the Niners taking on the equally struggling Seattle Seahawks (1-5).  Hopefully Singletary will be able to follow in the footsteps of fellow tough disciplinarian Rams head coach Jim Haslett, who has clicked off two straight wins since taking over for departed head coach Scott Linehan.

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One Response

  1. A terrific hire by the Niners.

    Timing sucks, no doubt … but, at least, ‘The Samarai’ is getting his chance in the spotlight.

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