Mornhinweg Becomes A Lion Tamer
January 26, 2001 at 12:00 AM
San Francisco 49er Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg in his fourth year as the team’s offensive coach is drawing considerable interest from professional football organizations in dire need of a head coach that will be a difference maker for them heading into 2001. Detroit will be his new home.
Marty has been instrumental in his hands on coaching techniques with the 49er offense and has a remarkable achievement level in establishing the 49er offense as one of the very best in the National Football League today.
His services come with a remarkable amount of expertise and knowledge in Bill Walsh’s west coast offense one of the greatest philosophies that is still widely practiced today in many professional and even college football organizations.
Marty has worked closely with Head Coach Steve Mariucci and they have formed a common bond and mutual recognition of each other’s talents over the years in their tenure as coaches. The respect and admiration they have for each other is not made secret and their abilities in coaching personnel are equal to many others in the NFL today.
Detroit Lions newly appointed General Manager Matt Millen a long time common sports broadcaster has drooled at the thought of having Steve Mariucci come and be head coach for his organization two years ago.
The Lions flirted with the idea two years ago in hiring Matt Millen to be their general manager and at that time Millen expressed intense interest in luring Steve Mariucci away from the San Francisco 49er’s to become the Detroit Lion’s new head coach.
Since then however we have wisely signed Mariucci to a long-term contract, therefore baring the Lions from obtaining his valuable services. Matt Millen new President/General Manager has opted for the next best thing and that is Marty Mornhinweg our very own offensive coordinator.
“I may have a biased opinion because I am a Marty Mornhinweg fan and I think he’s terrific,” Mariucci said recently at a teleconference.
Marty Mornhinweg is 38 years old, and is one of three finalists Millen is considering for the Lions head-coaching position. Mornhinweg has been Mariucci’s offensive coordinator for the past four seasons, including the past two as lead play-caller.
Of the other candidates for the position were current interim head coach for Detroit Gary Moeller and Baltimore Raven’s defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis. The Cleveland Browns are also in the hunt for Mornhinweg’s services after firing their head coach Chris Palmer.
Mariucci when approached with the suggestion that a team hiring Mornhinweg might possibly get the next best thing to Mariucci he reacted bitterly, and clarified that Marty and himself are different.
“Marty is his own man,” Mariucci said. “We’re not clones. When you talk about all the coaches out there running the 49er’s system; whether it’s Mike Holmgren or Mike Shanahan, or John Gruden or Andy Reid or myself or Dick Jauron or Ray Rhodes, Mike Sherman; there are a lot us who fell off the same tree.”
“But we all do things a little bit differently, we all have different personalities, and it needs to be that way. Marty, too, will have his own ways of doing things.”
“People are interested in Marty because of Marty, because of what Marty brings to the table and his potential as a head coach. It shouldn’t have anything to do with me.”
After the Detroit Lions decided to hire Marty, they will begin inheriting the experience he brings from working with Mike Holmgren in Green Bay and Mariucci in San Francisco, as well as his vast knowledge of the 49er offensive system.
Steve Mariucci is a disciple of Bill Walsh’s system and has instituted it even better then before with Walsh being the general manager of the franchise and overseeing day to day operations as a whole.
Walsh was the deciding factor in bringing Mariucci into San Francisco when asked by ownership as to whom he would pick as a head coach after the departure of George Seifert.
“It’s the system and the environment we try to create in the organization, the process and the way we practice and have training camp,” Mariucci said. “You’re not just bringing in a good coach; you’re bringing in a certain philosophy, a certain way of life and a certain system that has been pretty darned successful over the years.”
San Francisco meanwhile has already made plans due to all the attention he is receiving from other professional franchises. His agent Bob LaMonte said confidently, if Mornhinweg isn’t hired this year, he would be hired somewhere next year.
Steve Mariucci has said that if Marty Mornhinweg does leave to another club, that quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp would automatically become the new offensive coordinator.
Just recently Knapp agreed to stay with the 49er’s this off-season despite receiving interest from other teams, including Arizona, under the condition that he would replace Mornhinweg when Mornhinweg leaves.
Mornhinweg has called the offensive plays for the past two years, and Mariucci said he would probably resume the play-calling duties for at least one year if a switch were made.
“It’s sort of exciting for everybody. Everybody wants to see each other enhance their careers,” Knapp said. “If nothing changes, it’s still a great deal we’ve got going here.”
In reference to the play-calling duties Mariucci was careful about not treading to harshly on someone else’s toes too much being Greg Knapp since Mariucci waited a while before turning over these duties to Mornhinweg in 1999.
“I’ll talk to Knapper about that and I may very well jump back into play calling,” said Mariucci, who turned the 49er’s into the league’s top-rated offensive unit in 1998. 'I’d like Greg to get into that role, whether it’s a year from now or later. But I wouldn’t mind jumping back into that role with his assistance. Eventually, I can see Greg Knapp taking over the play calling as well.”
I see little difference should Knapp take over the reins as offensive coordinator; Marty has been a blessing to have as one of our elite coach’s he has done what so many other assistant coaches’ have accomplished after wearing the colors of a 49er.
Mornhinweg is yet another young, fiery coach who is an expert in the West Coast offense. The family tree of head coach’s under Bill Walsh is very substantial and far-reaching in the NFL.
Walsh has created a cornucopia of elite head coach’s and he is most proud of all the assistants that have served in the 49er nucleus and gone on to be successful head coaches and some even taking on dual roles as General Manager/Head Coach.
Some of these successful head coach’s are Minnesota’s Dennis Green, the 49er’s Steve Mariucci, Seattle’s Mike Holmgren, Denver’s Mike Shanahan. Oakland’s John Gruden, Philadelphia’s Andy Reid, Chicago’s Dick Jauron and Green Bay’s Mike Sherman.
Marty Mornhinweg with the 49er’s for four seasons spent the previous two years with Green Bay, including the 1996 Super Bowl season, serving as the team’s offensive assistant/quality control coach and then as quarterback’s coach, following Steve Mariucci’s departure.
Mornhinweg’s 1998 offensive unit produced the NFL’s top-rated rushing attack, was the league-leader in gross passing yards, and had the second highest total offensive output (6,801 yards) in NFL history.
Under the guidance of Mornhinweg, Quarterback Steve Young has posted a quarterback rating of over 100 in consecutive season’s, including a league leading 104.7 in 1997. It was his sixth NFL passing title in seven years.
I can still remember those last glory years in San Francisco in 1997-98 and the Steve Young legacy was still so real and so fresh in my mind. Marty just made those years mean so very much as he was the triggerman in making the offensive schemes work to a science.
Marty deserves our respect and recognition of all his accomplishments in the 49er red; he brings the same mentality and inspiration that Mariucci brings to the sidelines. The will to believe that we can win in any situation on any given day is very real inside of him.
Prior to joining the NFL, Mornhinweg accumulated 10 years of collegiate coaching experience. He began his coaching career at his alma mater.
He tutored the University of Montana receivers in 1985. He then served as a graduate assistant/quarterbacks coach at Texas-El Paso (1986-87), running backs coach at Northern Arizona (1988), and then offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Southeast Missouri State University (1989-90).
Following his assignment there, Mornhinweg coached slots/tight ends (1991) and the offensive line (1992-93) at the University of Missouri, and then returned to Northern Arizona as offensive coordinator in 1994.
Certainly the credentials stand for themselves as Marty has coached almost all offensive positions, being a former quarterback he gained even more knowledge that he yes to his advantage when coming over from college and into the professional world of football.
He was a standout quarterback at San Jose’s Oak Grove High, where surprisingly he was coached by former 49er’s offensive coordinator and current head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, Mike Holmgren.
He established three Northern California and 19 school records, and was named Northern California Player-of-the-Year during his prep career. Collegiately, Marty set 15 school passing records as a four-year starter at the University of Montana.
Steve Mariucci and Marty Mornhinweg have also been in contact with Cleveland Browns Vice President of Operations Dwight Clark, the same position he held with the 49er’s not too long ago.
“Dwight knows Marty pretty well;” Mariucci said of Clark, who along with Browns President Carmen Policy was with the 49er’s until joining Cleveland two years ago. “Obviously he wanted to know about Marty’s readiness to take over as head coach. The same with Matt Millen. Matt had some different questions, though, since he has never been around Marty like Dwight has.”
Mornhinweg was one of several candidates in Cleveland, where college coach’s Butch Davis and Bob Stoops are the alleged front runners, although both seem inclined to stay on in the college circle.
Mornhinwegs excellence in the 49er’s system makes him a natural to become a head coach, Mariucci has been quoted as saying. Without hesitation I know I would strongly consider such a valuable asset as Marty, he has without a doubt changed the face of the 49er offensive system and reformulated it while still keeping the principles of Bill Walsh in place.
The San Francisco 49er’s were fourth in the NFL in total offense with 6,040 yards during the 2000 season. The 49er’s trailed only St. Louis (7,075), Denver (6,567) and Indianapolis (6,141).
San Francisco scored 388 points and finished tied for sixth in the NFL with 24.3 points per game average. The 24.3 point average was an improvement of 5.9 points per game from 1999. The 49er’s averaged 18.4 points per game in 1999.
For the second time in league history, the 49er’s had six receivers credited with 30 or more receptions during the 2000 season. With a fast-paced high potent offense, San Francisco was second in the National Football Conference and fourth in the National Football League with 334 first downs. The 49er’s trailed only Denver (383), St Louis (380), and Indianapolis (357).
San Francisco ranked third in the National Football Conference and fifth in the National Football League with a 5.73 yards per play on first down. Only St Louis (6.89), Minnesota (6.25), Indianapolis (6.20) and Kansas City (5.96) had better averages on first down.
The 49er’s ranked second in the National Football Conference and fourth in the National Football League, in red zone production. With 62 possessions inside the 20, San Francisco scored 37 touchdowns and 11 field goals for a 59.7% touchdown percentage. The 49er’s only trailed St Louis (62.8%), Seattle (60.9%) and Indianapolis (60.4%) in the league.
We can credit this production and this offensive masterpiece to offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg along with his coaching staff and oversight by Steve Mariucci. We can be assured that this same offensive production will continue into the future even if Marty has gone on with another team.
Will it be a great loss? There is no question in my mind that it will be, but San Francisco is probably the best at adapting to coaches leaving as we have manufactured them almost like an assembly line in a long auto-making plant.
“We’ve got our fingers crossed and I’m wishing Marty the very best,” Mariucci said. “I’d like to be in a position where I see my assistant coaches move on to become head coaches. Bill Walsh has so many people under him that advanced to greater things. I’d like to have my assistant coaches here be successful enough to have the opportunity to become the lead dog.”
Marty brings a character to professional football that makes watching so enjoyable and I am appreciative to know that he put so much energy and time into this great franchise. And touched it to the point that someone else such as Greg Knapp will be able to take the reins over and keep the wagon straight on course.
Marty can also take enormous credit along with Knapp in the tutoring of not only Steve Young but young Jeff Garcia himself as Garcia made headlines with his outstanding on the field performances catapulting himself into his very first Pro Bowl as a result. How unbelievable that is in all itself?
The running game of Charlie Garner another stellar season and the passing receptions and scoring of wide receiver Terrell Owens all speak volumes as to Marty and his abilities to make an offense run like a well-oiled machine.
I wish Marty the very best in his endeavors , Marty would be an excellent choice for any team that is willing to experiment and find prosperity.
Mornhinweg brings a lot to someone’s table in the form of offensive minded genius and calculated intensity, he makes talent prosper and knows how to developed raw rookie talent as well. Anyone willing to take on such a teacher of these principles will without question prospers.
We as a fan-base have benefited from Marty’s play-calling and meticulous energies in offensive game planning over these years of not only game winning successes, but also achieving results even in the midst of rebuilding.
To be able to continue such offensive records as recorded earlier in a rebuilding phase of a franchise is reason enough for me to acknowledge his credentials as a great coordinator.
And just as we speak San Francisco 49er offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was hired by the Detroit Lions as their head coach his deal with the Lions is worth five million dollars. Marty replaces interim head coach Gary Moeller who replaced Bobby Ross midway through the season. Congratulations Marty!
Marty will have his work cut out for him especially since all of Moeller’s offensive and defensive staff were let go with him, and the fact he will be under the intense eye of Matt Millen. Matt will be even more aggressive and demanding being his first tenure as a President/General Manager for a pro football franchise.
Marty will have to formulate a competent staff quickly and get everything on track rapidly to begin the extensive process of incorporating new management philosophies and ideals on a football club that always winds up nipping under the heels of playoff contention.
The combination of Matt Millen and Marty Mornhinweg will be a definitive positive influence over the atmosphere in Detroit, The Lions will reap awards for these two hires as they are hungry and thirsting for a run deeper into the playoffs.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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