The end of the Mike Nolan era is finally here. And the funny thing about it is, the 49ers can't even fire someone right. If Nolan really is going to be fired after the Seahawks game, why wait? Now all you have is a lame-duck coach who is staring his future in the face.
Either: 1) The team rallies around their coach and plays a great game, throwing the decision into question (although, there really shouldn't be a question). Or 2) The team throws it in because their coach is out and they have nothing to play for.
How prepared is Nolan going to be for the game if Singletary really is going to take over? Even when the 49ers are "decisive" they can't be decisive.
EDIT: The team, apparently realizing they let the cat out of the bag, decided to fire Mike Nolan right away. Instead of waiting for the bye to let the players adjust, they have to deal with a game and a new coach all in 5 days. Is it better than letting Nolan coach a game knowing he would be fired? Yes. But the optimal move would have been to fire Nolan at the bye to let the new HC have some time to get things right with the team.
I'm watching ESPN report on the Nolan firing and here is a quick synopsis of what they had to say:
Chris Mortensen: The 49ers are different than St. Louis. The 49ers play hard, but on Nolan's first year they drafted Smith and that was ultimately the decision that doomed him. Things never came together for him since it was a bad team around Smith.
Steve Young: I'm worried that players and coaches are going to starting to rotating through. Nolan has set a good foundation. They play hard, but don't win. The franchise was basically an expansion franchise when Nolan took over (Oscar's Note: Ouch) and Nolan helped make them better. I worry, though, that this going to be like the Cardinals of the 80's and 90's where people rotate through and good people and players come through and nothing ever gets fixed.
Both had praise for Nolan and said that he was a good football coach.
Is Singletary a candidate to permanently replace Nolan as head coach? What about Martz? I think the 49ers know that Martz is not the long term answer. The same things that plagued him in Detroit and St. Louis are starting to rear their head here. His offense is a high risk offense that lends itself to sacks, turnovers and poor clock management. Teams like New Orleans and Denver are clear examples of where you can craft a great offense and not fall to the kinds of problems that the 49ers have.
Mike Singletary may be a great motivator, and he may be a great linebackers coach. He has ZERO coordinator experience and while he may be a dynamic individual who is respected in football circles, respect is not enough to be a successful head coach. Mike Nolan is respected in the NFL as a coach and the 49ers are all too familiar with how much good that brought them.
Singletary's biggest challenge is his knowledge of the X's and O's. This year, he won't have to worry too much since Martz's offense is effectively an autonomous unit and Greg Manusky is capable of running his defense. Heck, he might even run the defense better than Nolan.
Singletary is a short term answer and I don't expect him to have the kind of impact that Jim Haslett had in St. Louis. But this was ultimately a decision that had to be made because Nolan was not going to survive another season. Firing him now at least shows that the York's are paying attention.
3:45 pm: This is a synopsis of what Trent Dilfer said on Sportscenter:
Mike Nolan is a good man and a good football coach. There is only one person for the job, if Nolan is indeed fired, and that is Mike Singletary. The 49ers are not rebuilding, they need to win now. The person who takes this job has to have three things: #1They need to have some personal and professional integrity to prevent any potential backstabbing. #2 They have to have conviction as to what you need to be on offense and defense. Someone needs to go into the office and say "This is how the offense will run" and "This is how the defense will run." The team has no identity. #3 This team needs to be inspired. Mike is an excellent football coach who was made to lead men. If anyone can inspire the team, it's Mike Singletary.
What needs to happen is that their offensive and defensive systems are not married. They need to get the defense on board with the defense. The team was built on offense to be a bog, physical run team, not a wide open, pass-happy team. Someone needs to make sure the 49ers are moving forward as a team and using the talent based on how the team was built.