Mike Nolan was essentially screwed by several things: a dysfunctional ownership in the York family that never seems to have anything resembling good timing when it comes to decisions, his own lousy attempts to improve the team’s defense, and the decision to take Alex Smith over Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 draft. Predictably, he is now out on the street and will be looking for another job as a defensive coordinator next season.
Sadly, the interim replacement, Mike Singletary, may not necessarily fare any better, having less than a week to get ready to play the Seattle Seahawks instead of a bye week in between, which is normally when these firing happens; the Rams waited until that bye to break off Scott Linehan and Al Davis did the same to Lane Kiffin in Oakland. It doesn’t help that it’s possible that the offensive coordinator he inherits, Mike Martz, is seething — because, as Chronicle columnist Ray Ratto puts it, “Martz came to watch Nolan get fired so that he could inherit the job, and now he has been skipped for Singletary.”
Skipping over Martz for Singletary may have been one of the few smart moves Jed York has made, because after watching J.T. O’Sullivan throw ill-advised picks every Sunday (thank you, stupid NFL TV rules) and get crushed by an often non-existent offensive line, Martz hasn’t earned jack shit in terms of any shot at a head coaching job. If he can’t keep the quarterback protected and get him to not make idiotic mistakes, how much of an offensive guru is he?
Anyhow, Nolan’s spat with Alex Smith early in the season was a sign that he and the team were regretting their selection in the draft, and a sure sign of the rupture to come. This team will get worse before it gets better; it’s not set up to do well under an interim coach. Maybe the defense might improve slightly, but Martz’s offensive plan hasn’t insipred a whole lot of confidence other than when the QB will throw a crippling pick or two.
Nolan’s firing may actually save Smith in the Bay Area, oddly enough, because if Martz is gone too after the season (and if he doesn’t get the head coaching gig, he probably will be), there’s a realistic chance to see what’s left to salvage and maybe, just maybe, there will be a chance for him to learn one offensive system and stick with it, rather than have to learn everything all over again year in and year out.