01-02-2008, 02:07 PM
Nolan stays, Hostler goes; press conference scheduled (http://49ers.pressdemocrat.com/default.asp?item=725252)
The 49ers have scheduled a 1 p.m. press conference today, during which Mike Nolan will talk about the recently completed season . . . and then the questions will begin and the subject will turn to 2008.
At this point in the morning, we know that Nolan will be back as head coach of the 49ers next season.
We also have confirmed that Jim Hostler is out as offensive coordinator, as expected. Hostler was unavailable for comment this morning. Clearly, Nolan saved his job for another season because the Yorks believed that a lot of what happened this season was out of his control (http://49ers.pressdemocrat.com/default.asp?item=724992).
Hostler was promoted from QBs coach after Norv Turner left to become Chargers head coach. The transition was not a smooth one. The 49ers, who ranked 26th in the league last season, finished last in most important offensive categories this season. The club started four different quarterbacks.
As for other coaching changes, a team spokesman said this morning that Nolan had not finished all of those meetings, yet.
It is unclear whether there will be an announcement that VP of player personnel Scot McCloughan has been elevated to GM and Nolan will be stripped of his "final say" powers. The Yorks were expected to offer that position to McCloughan, but the timing of such a move is unclear.
01-04-2008, 03:06 PM
2008 season can't get here fast enough for 49ers (http://49ers.pressdemocrat.com/default.asp?item=725979)
It's the day after the day that a lot of stuff was supposed to happen in 49erland. As it turns out, nothing really happened as a result of the team's 5-11 season (http://www1.pressdemocrat.com/article/20080103/SPORTS/801030402/1010/SPORT01), they said.
Scot McCloughan is still the top talent evaluator. Mike Nolan is still the head coach. And each will have his say when it comes to personnel moves, with McCloughan technically getting the final say. OK, that is different.
There seems to be disappointment in many corners that more wasn't done. But what did everyone expect? Or want?
OK, dumb questions. I think I know the answers.
* * *
Numerous insiders told me over the past month that Nolan would likely be retained as coach (http://www1.pressdemocrat.com/article/20071203/SPORTS/712030345/1010/SPORT01). But after the Nolan-Alex Smith rift was jacked up a notch, my sources did not seem as confident. Nobody actually said Nolan would be gone, but there seemed to be some doubt.
After the game Sunday in Cleveland, I examined body language of the Yorks and Nolan. I studied the circumstantial evidence. Then, I came to the conclusion Nolan would be fired (http://49ers.pressdemocrat.com/default.asp?item=724674). I wrote about it on my blog as an opinion just hours after the season finale.
I was wrong. I apologize. I made a mistake - though I made sure to point out I was not reporting anything, but merely forming an opinion.
Where the Yorks made the mistake was by not coming out immediately after the season and saying Nolan is their guy. The only reason for them to let the decision drag is they needed convincing Nolan should stay.
They said they needed to "go through the process" of working through the season. The problem is that once a coach's job security is so openly questioned, it creates the illusion of "lame duck" status. In this business, perception becomes reality very quickly.
* * *
I'm sure you've read a lot of opinions of what the Yorks should have done. The second-guessers are saying Nolan should have been fired.
There was a rumor floating last week that the Yorks had requested to look at videos of coaching candidates from the NFL office. One thought is that you don't fire your head coach unless you have someone better already lined up. Obviously, the Yorks did not believe they could get anyone clearly better.
I honestly do not believe it was a clear-cut decision either way. There are certain things Nolan does very well. There are other things he does not do as well.
In saying he will have more time to focus his energies on the football team and the coaching staff, Nolan intimated he can spend a lot more time improving the areas - game management, making better use of personnel - that have given him problems.
People always want to see change. Change is not always the answer.
When a decision such as this is made, there are no right answers and there are no wrong answers. There are only opinions. Next year, we might have answers. Heck, it might be two or three years or more before we have those answers.
* * *
The Yorks don't want their football team to lose. They want to field a winning team. They want to be loved. They want to have a stadium built in Santa Clara.
Winning football games takes care of a lot of things. The Yorks believe the tandem of Nolan and McCloughan is their best bet at making the 49ers a winning franchise . . . again.
They've made their decision, and there is little else to say. Their fan base does not have a say in the matter. Obviously, neither does the media.
The Yorks have been vilified for their decision. But it really does not matter. Nothing matters until the games begin. Are the fans so disappointed that the club runs the risk of having the first blackouts since early in the 1981 season? At this point, we don't know.
No team in the league will be awaiting the release of the 2008 schedule (see below attachment) quite like the 49ers. If the 49ers get off to a quick start, all of this will be quickly forgotten. If they lose their first couple games, the cries for change will be louder and with more vitriol (if that is possible).
* * *
The 49ers met for two days to figure out what went wrong. The only solutions offered for what went wrong in 2007 are the offensive coordinator and the quarterback.
Jim Hostler was fired, and the quarterback job was thrown open to competition.
Alex Smith, the No. 1 pick of McCloughan and Nolan, will compete for the starting job.
(OK, I hate to do this, but I've seen over the past couple years the McCloughan-Nolan combo has been called McNolan, for short. Never has that seemed more appropriate than now. I might have to start using that on this blog.)
Anyway, I asked McCloughan who would compete for the job?
"Right now, Shaun Hill is unrestricted. Nothing is solidified yet. We know he wants to come back here," McCloughan said. "We've had some good talks. We still have to sit down and address the Trent Dilfer issue. He has value, there's no doubt about it. It's just one of those things that we will sit down towards the end of the week and talk with the position coaches about some of the older players."
(Reading between the lines, it appears as if the 49ers will want Dilfer to retire. I also get the feeling the club would like to see linebacker Derek Smith step aside.)
McCloughan continued: "If we are in the draft and there's a dang good quarterback sitting there, we're going to take him. In free agency, if someone falls into our lap and the money is right, we're going to sign him, because the more competition you have, the better it is for everybody."
* * *
Good question from Kevin Lynch about the future offensive system of the 49ers. Nolan said the offense with Shaun Hill was more of the West Coast system, while Smith ran the vertical scheme.
"We'll adapt to our players and will do what's best for our players," Nolan said. "Because there (are) some differences in Alex and Shaun, and whoever is competing for that position. There will be some adjustments that we'll have to make to adapt to those players to allow them the best opportunity to win that job."
* * *
There is nothing new to report on offensive coordinator candidates. I'll keep you posted as news becomes available.
My suggestion (http://49ers.pressdemocrat.com/default.asp?item=725444) would have been that the 49ers offer whatever it takes to get Cam Cameron (http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/dolphins/2008-01-03-cameron-fired_N.htm) right here, right now. Don't even bring him in for an interview. Just get him. I seriously doubt that is happening.
But I have no reason to believe that Cameron is not high on the 49ers' wish list. I don't know Cameron's plans. He was reportedly under contract with the Dolphins through 2010 at $2.75 million a year. Bill Parcells fired him earlier today.
The 49ers were going to pay Norv Turner a little over $1 million had he remained as offensive coordinator for a second year. The best way for Cameron to get back on the radar screen of head-coaching candidates is to do a good job as a coordinator in 2008. But it might take him at least a couple years to restore his stock after a 1-15 record as the head man in Miami.
Nolan has to put together an offensive staff that includes a coordinator-in-waiting. If the guy he hires in the next couple weeks leaves for a head-coaching job, the 49ers should not have to go outside to get somebody qualified to replace him.
It does not seem former Rams head coach Mike Martz, fired as Lions offensive coordinator this week, is being seriously considered. McCloughan went on record as saying there's no truth to the rumor the 49ers are interested.
* * *
The announcement of linebacker Patrick Willis as Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year is expected to be made tomorrow. The AP moved up the announcement of Coach of the Year (Bill Belichick) to today because news had broken in a Boston paper that he would be named the winner.
Although Willis might also be a good choice for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, he is definitely a long shot behind Asante Samuel and Bob Sanders. No word on when that announcement will be made.
* * *
The 49ers made their first roster move of the offseason. The club on Wednesday signed WR Jerard Rabb (Boise State) to a futures contract for the 2008 season. (Nolan announced on KNBR that they also re-signed QB Drew Olson.)
* * *
UPDATE (7:55 p.m.): The 49ers signed RB Thomas Clayton, WR Dominique Zeigler and DB Markus Curry to future contracts.
01-06-2008, 01:28 AM
More changes on offensive staff are coming (http://49ers.pressdemocrat.com/default.asp?item=726754)
We know Jim Hostler is out as offensive coordinator. But what about the rest of the 49ers' offensive coaching staff?
More changes are certain to be made, but the news coming out of the 49ers is slow. It's slow for a reason.
Coach Mike Nolan said Wednesday he wasn't going to announce when he has let coaches go because he wanted to show some sensitivity to their ability to get future employment. Apparently, he wants to afford them to the opportunity to find new jobs before word of their dismissals becomes public.
Nolan was probably going to inform some coaches they would not be brought back for next season. But it might be a while before we hear about it.
We can assume that is why 49ers quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti has already interviewed for the University of Tennessee offensive coordinator job.
Cignetti was the longshot of longshots to return to the 49ers next season. After all, he was hired by Hostler. The two men played together in the defensive backfield at the University of Indiana (Pa.).
Cignetti, who formerly worked as offensive coordinator at Fresno State and North Carolina, could find a new job shortly. Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer has said he wants to hire a new offensive coordinator by Tuesday.
There figure to be other coaching changes because the new offensive coordinator will have some say in which coaches come and go.
There are a lot of questions about offensive line coach George Warhop. There is word circulating Warhop has already been told he will not be back. A phone message to Warhop's office was not returned. The 49ers have not confirmed anything regarding Warhop or Mark Nori, who completed his first season as an assistant on the offensive line and also has an uncertain future.
It would be no surprise if the 49ers' offensive line were targeted for change. The 49ers set a franchise record with 55 sacks allowed this season. There were many instances when the team's protection had major breakdowns on blitzes and stunts.
One of those plays occurred on the third offensive play of the 49ers' Sept. 30 game against the Seahawks when defensive tackle Rocky Bernard came free untouched on a stunt and drove Alex Smith's right shoulder into the turf. Smith sustained a separated shoulder. He eventually required season-ending surgery while the 49ers' losing streak reached eight games.
The new coordinator - whomever that might be - has some options. The Dolphins fired respected line coach Hudson Houck this week. Also, the Chiefs canned offensive coordinator Mike Solari, who has a background as a line coach. (He also served as tight ends coach with the 49ers and worked closely with Bobb McKittrick.)
Running backs coach Bishop Harris, receivers coach Jerry Sullivan and tight ends coach Pete Hoener are the 49ers' other position coaches on offense we're waiting to hear about.
* * *
Chan Gailey is the first coach to interview for the offensive coordinator position. There are reports Mike Martz and Cam Cameron will likely interview, too.
New 49ers GM Scot McCloughan is on record as saying there is no truth to the report the club is interested in Martz, whom the Lions recently fired as offensive coordinator. Nolan and Martz are both represented by agent Bob LaMont.
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