One of the running jokes for much of last season was the question of who between Mike Nolan and Scot McCloughan had the "trigger?" This "trigger" seemed to be a rather key aspect of the McNolan relationship.
I bring it up now because I remain curious about the relationship between Mike Singletary and Scot McCloughan heading into this draft. The respective titles would seem to indicate clarity: Singletary is the head coach and McCloughan is the general manager. And yet it's not so simple.
The head coach of an NFL team seems to have distinct responsibilities as compared to most other sports. No matter what the coach does have input into the on-field product. The NFL personnel situation is dramatically different from that of say baseball. In baseball you're drafting for the distant future thanks to the minor leagues. Many draftees never make the big leagues, and the ones that do often take several years to get there. Whomever is the big league manager now may very well be gone by the time the draftees reach the big leagues.
In football, on the other hand, most of your draft choices will see playing time that first season and you're often expecting sizable contributions from one or two of them right away. Thus, the coach will be dealing with them immediately. The coach has more of an impact in football than in other sports, so it makes sense that he would have greater input.
So, we know that Singletary has input. We also know he is his own man and is ready to take care of business. Does that mean that in his discussions about becoming head coach he made it known that he wanted serious involvement in personnel matters?
One variable in this is Scot McCloughan's job security. McCloughan is probably next on the chopping block if things go south. How much player control would he give up because of that? On the one hand it's scary to cede power if you might lose it all soon. On the other hand I'd imagine he would want Singletary to have players with which he can be comfortable.
So, will this draft tell us who has the personnel power? Can we even tell from the draft choices? Does it even matter in the end?
FOOCH'S UPDATE 4/20 7:37PM: Mike Sando linked to this article over at ESPN and included a quick take of his own on this subject:
My take: McCloughan is clearly the key figure for the 49ers come draft time. That is his area of expertise. If Singletary and McCloughan could not resolve strong differences over a draft prospect, the team would probably select someone else.