Times are certainly getting tough for Mike Nolan and the 49ers. The team has now lost four straight games and probably could have and maybe should have won at least two of them. The Seahawks come to town this Sunday a complete mess of a team. Does this make it a must-win for Mike Nolan? That has certainly become the question of the day whether you ask Maiocco, Barrows, Killion or Pro Football Weekly.
There have been anti-Nolan people going back to much of last year. However, the latest string of losses has only amplified the chatter of the fans. It's becoming harder and harder to justify NOT firing Nolan. As much of a "good guy" as he might seem to people (and I'll certainly leave that open for much argument), the team is not playing like a well-coached team.
We could easily lay the blame on Mike Martz or J.T. O'Sullivan or the play of the defense at times. Even easier, we could blame everyone's favorite whipping boy Paraag Marathe. All have played a part in the current struggles of the 49ers. However, the buck has to stop with someone, and more often than not that someone is the head coach. Obviously we could blame the owners but I actually don't blame the Yorks. They've invested plenty of money in talented players and have stayed out of the way when it comes to the on field product.
In spite of what some people think, and have certainly expressed, there is a lot of talent on this team. The team has brought in impressive talent on both sides of the ball and should be performing better than they have thus far. Sure there are holes on the roster, as is the case with most teams. However, top to bottom I think the talent on this team borders playoff-caliber.
Of course, we find ourselves as far away from a playoff spot as last year and it does not seem to be getting any better. The team makes a lot of the same mistakes week in and week out and much of it comes down to the schemes. One needs simply look at the prodigious use of the "Big Sub" even as teams were chewing up our defense week after week. When a coach does not adjust, it might just be time to adjust him out of the picture.
I think a big reason I have lost confidence in Coach Nolan is his general stubbornness. He's stubborn when it comes to refusing to adjust in game. He's stubborn when it comes to his lack of a sense of reality in his press conferences. I really like the guy but when it comes to coaching a football team, something is missing.
Maybe some guys are just meant to be defensive coordinators in this league. There's nothing wrong with that. There are only 32 defensive coordinators in this league so it's still a fine position to aspire too. However, when it comes to our team, winning comes first. They say you can tell a lot about the coach by the close games. Good coaches lead their teams to the close wins, bad coaches are the ones who lose those close wins. Right now, I have to say that Mike Nolan is a bad coach.
For the immediate future, I'd say my choice for head coach would be either Greg Manusky or Mike Singletary. If the offense can turn things around Mike Martz might be offered a head coaching position somewhere else. Even so, I see few reasons to make him an interim head coach if Nolan were fired. It wouldn't be quite as bad as going with a washed-up retread like Dennis Erickson. However, it would probably be pretty close. You more or less know what you're getting with Mike Martz as a head coach and I just can't buy into that. He's the only man who would make Nolan look like a genius with his timeouts.
If you hired Manusky, that might very well spell the end of Mike Singletary's time in San Francisco. He was never promised a head coaching job like Jason Garrett was in Dallas, but he's certainly worked his way to the top of the succession line. You don't want to promote a guy just because you might lose him and there have certainly been questions about whether he's ready yet (see the multiple times he's been passed over). Nonetheless, sometimes you just need to see what you've got. There are certainly plenty of options out there (Cowher, Holmgren, etc...), but before we go that route, shouldn't we see what a guy like Singletary can do in the short term?