The 49ers announced they’ll stay in Arizona for the remainder of the season on Friday. In today’s Nuggets, you’ll also read about a wild scenario that includes trading for Trevor Lawerence, some not so kind Mike Nolan quotes, and how the Chargers win on Thursday helped the 49ers draft position.
A team spokesman said the decision was made to remain in the Phoenix area through the end of the NFL season after Santa Clara County announced it would be extending its COVID-19 restrictions, including a ban on contact sports, through at least Jan. 8.
When the season ends, the Niners will have played three “home” games and one road game at State Farm Stadium over the season’s final month.
Santa Clara County’s extension of protocols was something the Niners expected when they moved, which is why coach Kyle Shanahan told his team that he and the operations staff would do all they could to try to get the players’ loved ones down to Arizona for Christmas week.
First, the Jets have to pick first and want to draft a quarterback. There’s not a guarantee that New York has the top pick, although their 0-13 start indicates they’re headed that direction. Any given Sunday though, am I right? Sam Darnold’s tenure hasn’t been stellar, but the team’s overall failures can’t be traced back to him. They may sign him to a cheap-ish extension and see what he can do with a better team and different coaching staff around him. Since those scenarios obliterates our entire hypothetical, we have conveniently struck them from the record.
Next, the 49ers need to take care of business and lose out to finish 5-11.
To move up from No. 5 to No.1, the 49ers will have to pony up – which the front office may be wary of doing given all the holes free agency and their minimal cap space will create. If it means drafting Lawrence though, San Francisco would be happy to have to figure out the rest.
That trade would probably be something like the No. 5 pick, a 2022 first and a couple mid-round picks in 2021. San Francisco could be sitting with upwards of 11 selections by the draft, so they’ll have some capital to work with. Essentially everything is on the table here because a player like Lawrence could immediately throw the 49ers’ championship window wide open for the next decade-plus, and any notion of a conservative 2021 draft would soar out the newly-open window.
Nolan, with a paltry head coaching record of 18-37, was fired halfway through the 2008 season after fans clamored for his ouster. Former Chronicle columnist Gwen Knapp noted that “the Nolan firing, while entirely understandable, seems to be a pacifier for the fans and media after four straight losses,” before going on to rip into the former head coach for multiple defects.
“He is full of swagger and vanity, a man of many words, most of them empty,” she wrote of his insistence to wear a suit on the sidelines and day-to-day demeanor.
“His handling of the red flag for replay challenges was practically an illustration of the theory that telling someone not to think about pink elephants assures endless visions of pink elephants,” she said of his trigger-happy ways with the challenge flag. “The more flak he took for the red flags, the more he seemed incapable of controlling the impulse to toss them inappropriately.”
“What does Mike Nolan do well? I cannot think of a thing,” reads an old Bleacher Report blog post from Jay Jameson. “Even in his press conferences, he’s so aloof from what’s going on around him that he must be a delusional human being. If Mike Nolan is anything, he is an over-glorified coordinator. He is in the same class as Cam Cameron, Mike Martz, and Norv Turner among others — brilliant coordinating minds, but pathetic leadership abilities.”
It did, however, slightly increase the chances that San Francisco will be able to move up in the order.
With the victory, the Chargers improved to 5-9 and dropped to the ninth overall pick in the draft order. They’re now one of five teams with five wins on the season, along with the 49ers, New York Giants, Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos — all of whom are 5-8 heading into the weekend.
Additionally, there are another five NFL teams with four wins to date, including the Dallas Cowboys, who the 49ers face on Sunday.
With a loss, San Francisco potentially would be on its way for a top-eight pick by season’s end.
Of course, even if the 49ers beat the Cowboys, the Chargers’ win still helps. There’s a major bottleneck of teams separated by very little, and every win by a team that currently sits ahead of the 49ers in the draft order can only increase their chances of moving up.