Mike Nolan

Even Patrick Willis Can

You’d think a team with Patrick Willis would be immune to having a bad linebacker week, especially in February.

But the 49ers accomplished that this very week, even if Thursday’s rumors that the Chicago Bears are charging San Francisco with tampering aren’t true. That’s pretty doubtful though, since the Niners have already admitted contacting disgruntled Bears linebacker Lance Briggs’ agent Drew Rosenhaus during the past season.

(Side note: If anybody asked you about which agent would be involved in an NFL tampering case, would you even wait a second before saying Rosenhaus? Any chance old Drew might have just notified the Bears of the alleged tampering to get his client a better contract for his player? Nah.)

The 49ers are so enamored with Briggs, they tried to trade for and lock him up long term before he became a free agent, which he will be shortly. That’s why the 49ers dropped Derek Smith and his $3.2 million cap number, to make room for the monster contract that Briggs will surely command.

So in one week, the Niners dropped a guy who (for better or worse) was second-in-command on defense behind Bryant Young for eight years (playing quite well for about five of those seasons, before dealing with what sounded like a horrible eye injury a year ago…he played for bad teams, but Smith was a good Niner), potentially lost a draft pick over dealing with a slime-ball like Rosenhaus, and still don’t even have Briggs.

And not to pile on, but what’s with McNolan (the amalgamation of Scot McCloughan and Mike Nolan) deciding the team’s biggest need is at linebacker? If the Niners spend a big chunk on one player, shouldn’t the targeted positions be wide receiver, defensive lineman, a replacement for the Larry Allen or the utterly cancerous Jonas Jennings on the o-line or (ahem) quarterback? I know they have held on to the fantasy of a 3-4 defense ever since Nolan took over as head coach, but I don’t think many of their eleven losses in 2007 could be attributed to linebacker play.

McNolan is like a guy shopping for a new Aston Martin when he already has a 911 Turbo, even though his home is a rented trailer in tornado country.

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