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Mike Nolan: Over/Under with the 49ers

While there are plenty of people who have expressed their dismay with the return of Mike Nolan in 2008, the discussion has been limited in some respects.  So, I've decided to open this up for some friendly predictions and analysis.  This post was inspired by Braekneck who made a comment that caught my attention in the calendar post below:

Over/Under [For Nolan's Job]

Seeing as how we've all seen the schedule, what's everyone's impression on the over/under of the number of wins in '08 to feel confident about Nolan returning as head coach in '09?

I think 8-8 is a fine starting point.  We've got a decently tough schedule and hitting the .500 mark is a step in the right direction.  8 wins would also represent a 3 win improvement over this last season and should put us on track for the playoffs in '09, as a legitimate playoff team.

What do you think, how many games do the Niners need to win next season for Nolan et al to keep their jobs?

I had a response in mind, but decided instead to bring it to the front page.  While I certainly think 8-8 would be enough to get Nolan into the final year of his contract, my question is what kind of slow start would lead to Nolan being canned midseason?  There are two reasons this is an issue to figure out: 1) Obviously that would mean a big change of direction, and 2) This could lead to the potential of, dare I say it, Mike Martz being named interim head coach!

I've been thinking about this for a far back as after reading Tim Kawakami's SJ mercury news column about the major lame duck status of Mike Nolan.  Kawakami said:

Nolan can and probably will be fired the first time the 49ers hit a three-game losing streak, and since this is still Nolan's team, they definitely will have a three-game losing streak.

While a three-game losing streak is certainly a very real possibility, it really matters when the streak happens.  What if the 49ers get a favorable draw early on (say vs. St. Louis, @ Miami, vs. Philly, vs. Arizona, vs. Detroit) and starts out 5-1 (very possible with that starting schedule)?  Then say they face a stretch of @ Dallas, vs. New England, vs. Seattle and loses all 3?  Obviously I'm cherry-picking the schedule, but I think the point is made.  A 3-game losing streak doesn't necessarily guarantee a canning of Nolan.  Of course if the team starts out 0-3, that could be a different story, no matter who the opponents.

I think 8-8 is sufficient, depending on how the team comes out of the gate.  Part will depend on what improvements the team makes, and part could come down to the quirks of scheduling that always seem to arise.

So, let's open up the floor Braekneck's question and my follow up question:

  1. What is the worst record Nolan can have and still get to come back for the 5th year of his contract?
  2. What kind of start to the season, or even midseason stretch, could get Nolan fired before the season ends.
I consider myself a "Nolan guy" so I'm not doing this to get a firing pool going.  I just want to see what kind of expectations people now have.