Now that the Cardinals have clinched the division and the 49ers are mathematically eliminated for all playoff contention, it becomes much easier to focus on the future. Although I realized there was very little chance of winning the division before this week, I still held out a faint hope and I think that kept me from completely committing to the future. That is no longer an issue.
Lately we've seen FanPosts about the QB position in 2009, some early looks at the 2009 draft, the QB position in 2009, general needs going into the offseason and of course, let's not forget the QB position in 2009.
However, one area where I've noticed plenty of comments, but nothing concrete brought together, is whither the offensive coordinator position in 2009 and beyond. First off, let's assume for the sake of this argument that Mike Singletary is hired as the head coach for 2009 (and beyond). If we change that variable, it makes this all moot. If they hired a Holmgren or Schottenheimer or Cowher, I couldn't even begin to guess who would be the offensive coordinator. So, for now, we'll assume Mike Singletary is returning as head coach in 2009.
The question then becomes who will be his OC in 2009? In the Formula for Success thread there was some discussion about bringing Norv Turner back if he were fired in San Diego and Mike Martz bolted after this season. There is certainly some logic in that idea. The 49ers had some success when Norv Turner was the offensive coordinator. A decent chunk of the offense was around at that point and so it wouldn't be the same as having a sixth offensive coordinator in as many seasons.
The second option would be retaining Mike Martz, if he even wanted to stick around. If Martz was interested in sticking around for a second year, I'd actually be supportive of that. I like the idea of the conflicting personalities. Obviously I don't want to see a head coach and offensive coordinator that can't get along. That would do nobody any good. However, it seems like Mike Singletary has had some kind of influence on the offense. I really don't know what it is, but something's different. It's entirely possible the change is due to Shaun Hill. Hill lacks some of the physical tools of J.T. O'Sullivan, so maybe it's forced a more conservative brand of the Martz offense. Anybody else think that?
Nonetheless, I think the new version of Mike and Mike could actually make for a potentially potent coaching duo. This Jets game was a great example of what is possible. You get a pound it out running attack that sets up the play action specifically, and the pass generally. When he's been successful this year, Shaun Hill has not had to go deep and yet it's not simple game management. He has to make plays, but these plays have been brought within his skill set. And I think that can be considered due in part to the Mikes together.
It's funny that there's this distinction between Martz and Turner. Although their offenses seem different, they're both disciples of the Air Coryell system. On the wikipedia page, there's an interesting quote from Martz:
"Don is the father of the modern passing game. People talk about the 'West Coast' offense, but Don started the 'West Coast' decades ago and kept updating it. You look around the NFL now, and so many teams are running a version of the Coryell offense. Coaches have added their own touches, but it's still Coryell's offense. He has disciples all over the league. He changed the game."
The third option is some un-named party that we don't know of yet. Or maybe one of you has a particular guy in mind? The question I pose is who WILL BE the 49ers offensive coordinator in 2009. It's not who do you want to be the OC, but rather who you think will actually end up with the position. If you think it's neither Martz nor Turner, I'd be curious to hear who you have in mind. And if you don't know somebody, but just think it won't be either of them, that's certainly fine as well.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I wrote this up last night and scheduled the post for this morning. In the meantime, Maiocco had a blog post as well about Martz.