Nancy Gay Has it All Wrong. Pioli? Please.

Dec 12, 2008 at 5:24 PM

Quite simply, Nancy Gay has it all wrong. Pioli for president? There are several problems with her reasoning. Sure, it sounds good on face but Gay seems more enamored with the Patriots and Head Coach Bill Belichick than with Pioli. Let's look at her reasoning:

According to Gay, Pioli would be great because he has been a part of the personnel department of 4 NFL franchises. Guess what, Scott McCloughan was with Green Bay under legendary personnel man Ron Wolf and then with Seattle. In fact, Wolf went so far as to say that McCloughan, "has an exceptional eye for talent." Quite simply, the number of franchises you work for has nothing to do with your success rate. It just goes to show you that the good ol' boy network still works.

Gay seems to be in love with Belichick throughout her article. She heaps praise on him with comments like, "detail oriented" and "meticulous." She notes his impressive lists of candidates that is 10-12 coaches deep and further lauds Belichick's "impressive group of protegés."

That's all well and good, but when did Pioli become Belichick? Belichick might be detail oriented, but does that mean that Pioli is too? In heaping all this praise on one man who leads a successful team she forgot that Pioli is a different person with perhaps a different organizational style.

Oh, and my favorite part: Pioli's father-in-law is Bill Parcells. Really. You can't even make the whole "football runs in his genes" argument here because it's his father-in-law. News flash, Dick Nolan was Mike Nolan's father. Fat lotta good that did the former head coach.

She doesn't even delve into the nitty gritty of what a hire like Pioli would mean for the 49ers. Where would GM Scott McCloughan fall on the organizational chart? Would Pioli keep Singletary? Would Pioli come to a team where the coaching staff was set?

Gay asserts that continuity in the coaching ranks has been a major problem for the 49ers and she is spot on. But Pioli would have no control over this. Coaches would still come and go and he would be stuck drafting for coaches with different philosophies. Does he draft for the Mike Martz offense or a ball-control run-based offense that Singletary seems to prefer? Consistency would not come from Scott Pioli, it would come from the Yorks getting their act together and hiring a coach that will succeed in implementing a vision and a consistent philosophy on offense and defense.

Pioli would have no control over coaching, that's Scott McCloughan's job., um...McCloughan would be fired. Wait, then would Pioli keep Singletary or some other Belichick protegé in his stead? Wouldn't hiring Pioli kind of go against that whole continuity argument?

Scott Pioli is a great talent evaluator for the Belichick system. Belichick is a great coach. Does that mean that Pioli would fix all of the 49ers wrongs? No. Might he be an improvement? Perhaps, but there are just too many gaps in the reasoning. The heart of the 49ers problems lie with coaching and consistency. Scott Pioli does not fix either one of those problems.
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.


  • Scott
    Good read, but it sounds more like a b***h session, than it does an article about the niners...
    Dec 27, 2008 at 6:24 AM
  • Mark Egan
    Here's a reason you're wrong: Alex Smith. Scott McCloughin didn't do his homework. Alex's old coach said he wouldn't work in a pro system unless he knew it perfectly - which few quarterbacks ever do, much less, a team with rotating offensive coordinators. Pioli is known for running the best prepared organization. That's what we need.
    Dec 18, 2008 at 12:50 PM
    Response: But what evidence do you have that Pioli is actually running the show there? Is he riding Belichick's coat tails? Have Pioli's drafts really been that good?
  • sl
    Holmgren not qualified. ( 49ers , GB, Seattle all in the SB) wonder what Gay thought about Tuna taking over in Miami. Miami sure isnt complaining.
    Dec 16, 2008 at 8:17 PM
    Response: Holmgren may have experience, but in his latest stint with Seattle his GM abilities were terrible. I will elaborate further in a blog later this week.
  • Edward
    nancy gay and gwen knapp are horrible writers/columnists. this article serves as case in point. even while i'm inclined to agree (or at least consider) that pioli could be a great pick to run the niners organization, gay's article contains no cogent supporting evidence, fails to address pioli's failures and explain why these missteps should be overlooked, and offers a bunch of nonsensical, irrelevant garbage as the basis for her main point. Heres the real truth. the pats's past and success are largely based on three moves: drafting tom brady, the tuck rule, and randy moss. getting brady was pure luck and a fluke. i dont think anyone can plausibly argue that the Pats knew he would be this good. at best, they thought he might be a good nfl qb, not the second coming of montana (just like how i doubt even walsh knew montana was going to be the second coming of unitas). the tuck rule was a gift from the nfl rulebook. and moss was a gift from the raiders.
    Dec 15, 2008 at 11:39 AM
    Response: While I agree that there is some bit of luck to what the Patriots are doing, drafting Tom Brady being up there, I think you might be undervaluing what t hey are doing there. Belichick is a good coach and he gets the most out of his players. Schematically, the Patriots are always at the top of the league. I think you can look at players like Bruschi and Vrabel and see that it's a little more than just Brady, Moss and the Tuck rule.
  • jon hyde
    The 49er personnel picks have been very weak vis-a-vis their draft position since Nolan and McCloughan took over. All you have to do is look around the league to see how much talent and depth other teams have built in the past few years. On top of that, their free agent batting avg. for noticeable contribution/ impact has been terrible. After all these miserable years they're no better than a 8-8 team and yet some people keep thinking they're on the right track. The few top players they picked up are strictly the luck of averages. Nothing more. You must have been a Bush supporter as well. Maybe you still are!
    Dec 14, 2008 at 1:48 PM
    Response: 1) Funny you presume I think McCloughan's drafts have been stellar. I think McCloughan's drafts have been average, but certainly better than Donahue. 2) The article was simply stating that Pioli may not be the best man for the job and Gay hasn't really stated any compelling reason why Pioli would be great in SF. 3) What the heck does my belief about the 49ers franchise have anything to do with my political preferences? It seems that your myopic model for the world has me as a supporter of our current administration. Get your head out of a dark crevice (yours or someone else's) and realize your tremendous logical failure.
  • Daniel
    i love you
    Dec 14, 2008 at 11:11 AM
    Response: I know that I might inspire that emotion in people, both men and women. In fact, I often experience similar emotions as I go through this life. I assure, you, though, that you have a snowball's chance in hell of having your inner most dreams realized.
  • shaj
    Oscar, Bellichick (sp?) was a nobody until he came to the patriots. We have already established that a big part of that success was due to Tom Brady, but under Cassel, we have also seen that Bellichick has a system and process that has also been a major reason. That includes awesome team management and drafting. He wasn't able to do that with the Browns, so all factors indicate that Pioli has played a big role in the concurrent success of Bellichick and the Patriots. I think you're highly underrating Pioli.
    Dec 14, 2008 at 7:23 AM
    Response: Is Pioli the only difference between his time in Cleveland and his time in New England? How much influence does Belichick have in personnel? It's a pretty big leap to go from Belichick having a great system and the Pioli being able to emulate that.
  • Steven
    I agree with you and wish more people would stop drinking the Pioli Kool-aid. He does a terrible job drafting and most people don't know it. When you go back and look at the Patriot drafts from 2000 to 2005, only 12 players out of 51 selected from all those drafts are still with the team. Their most recent drafts haven't had much success either. There is only 3 players left from the 2006 draft and only one is left from 2007. If he was good at scouting and drafting then more players would be around from the 2006-2007 drafts and fewer would be left from the earlier drafts. They've had 70 draft picks since 2000 and only have 16 players left out of those 70 picks. That is not a good record. McCloughan has shown he has an eye for talent and now those young players are getting their chance now that Nolan is gone.
    Dec 13, 2008 at 10:03 AM
    Response: Those are some interesting stats from Pioli's term as the personnel guy in New England. If they are true they only bolster my case. I also think that McCloughan's picks aren't that bad either. Even Parys Haralson, a 5th round pick, is showing he can produce given the opportunity. And really, that's what most of these rookies have needed - an opportunity.

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