Prepare for an end to the Mike Nolan era, if we’re to believe ESPN.
Michael Smith is reporting that regardless of whether the 49ers win or lose against Seattle next Sunday, Nolan will be fired during the following bye week and replaced by Mike Singletary, if not tonight.
(Breaking news: Chris Mortensen, who’s probably pissed that Smith got a scoop over him, is now reporting on the MNF pregame show that Nolan has been fired in the last hour and the 49ers are currently negotiating with Singletary. Of course, Mortensen reported the firing of Lane Kiffin roughly 237 times before it finally happened, so this might not be official yet. Man, Chris Berman is upset about this move, which kind of legitimizes the firing in a way. Boomer looks like he might shed a tear, and just said he “is disgusted.” Geez, did Nolan send Berman a Hanukah card last year?)
This is without question the correct move. The situation with Nolan has devolved to the point where the team is in disarray and Nolan doesn’t even seem to either have a grasp on what’s going on or even want to be around anymore.
The situation in San Francisco has become so depressing that Nolan has lost the right to coach this team for the rest of the year, because while he has answers to the 49ers’ problems, those answers make no sense. One of the worst defenses in the league? Nolan says the answer isn’t change, but rather the current personnel playing better. A wasted challenge in New Orleans early in the second half? Nolan says he was just trying to slow the game down.
By no means are the 49ers talented enough to expect a playoff berth, but they are talented enough to win the occasional home game against teams other than the Lions. They’re talented enough to find a defensive scheme that holds teams to less than 25 points a game, and they’re talented enough to avoid the multitude of stupid penalties that hampered them yesterday in New Jersey.
Singletary seems a perfect choice given who else is around. Anybody who thinks Mike Martz has somehow learned any lessons since his St. Louis days are kidding themselves; he’d wreck the 49ers in terms of clock management and offensive balance just like he has his entire career. There are no viable candidates open to take an interim job midway through the season with a crappy team that’s unraveling by the second, but for Singletary this may be his only chance. The buzz on Singletary has worn off quite a bit since Nolan first arrived in San Francisco with Singletary at his side. Three or four years ago Singletary was interviewing for head coaching positions for a variety of NFL teams, and lately has gotten nary a look.
Plus, the players obviously don’t respect Nolan. Vernon Davis showed Nolan up the other week on national television, Shawn Hill went public with the lack of communication from Nolan during the preseason, Manny Lawson is obviously upset about his relegation to special teams, and we all know what happened with Alex Smith last year. In hiring Singletary, the coordinators would remain unchanged but the respect given the head coach would increase infinitely. And that respect would be earned not just from the players but the media and fans, who have grown tired of Nolan’s style of coach-speak that over the past few years has gone from empty and bombastic to confused and delirious. And Singletary won’t need a suit to gain that respect.
If Singletary’s influence is either underwhelming or even negative over the season’s last nine games, the 49ers could search for a new coach during the offseason — the same situation they would have faced even if they kept Nolan around for the season’s second half. So if the 49ers are thinking of going after a guy like Mike Holmgren, Bill Cowher or Brian Billick, they’ll be able to (three coaches who would never bring in Martz as the o-coordinator, so whether or not Martz would be upset about being passed over becomes a moot point).
Adios, Mike Nolan. Don’t forget to give Coach Singletary your headset on your way out.