Nolan is a scapegoat

The 2008 NFL season has already seen many coaching changes.

Through seven weeks of play there have been some two coaching changes in Oakland and St. Louis.

Now San Francisco is playing host to a new coach. On Monday the 49ers announced their firing of head coach Mike Nolan after the team’s 29-17 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday.

The Niners started out the season a surprising 2-1 but have dropped four straight games since.

They’re currently 2-5 and in third place in the NFC West division.

Nolan was in his fourth year with the team. His record with the team was an abysmal 18-37.

Let me say first of all that I understand where the SF front-office brass is coming from. Nolan has simply not gotten the results the team expected him to produce.

History shows that he has come well short of getting this team a winning record. In 06 he came close when the team finished 7-9 but in 07 they crashed back to earth with a 5-11 record.

This year I thought the Niners had a legitimate shot at the division title because of the talent on the field. So far they’re well below my expectations and that of many onlookers.

Plus team personnel have seen what such a move can do for a struggling side. St. Louis is a prime example.

The Rams lost four straight games to open the season and fired coach Scott Linehan during their week 5 bye.

Under new coach Jim Haslett the team has won two straight over NFC East powerhouses Washington and Dallas.

But to me Nolan is not and has not been the problem in San Francisco. He’s done the best he could with what he was given.

Mind you for years the best talent he had at quarterback was Alex Smith who is yet to impress.

Moreover Nolan could only do so much when his defense was so porous. It’s not his fault the linemen aren’t doing their jobs and the secondary is being constantly picked on.

Coming into week 8, the Niners have allowed the most points in football with 196. That’s more than the woeful Lions and the defense-less Bengals.

Thing is the squad has had an even worse showing protecting its leader.

Even with a new quarterback in O’Sullivan, San Fran has done a poor job protecting him. Nolan can only watch as his play-maker gets sacked over and over again.

Yet, to Nolan’s credit, SF has been in almost all of their last four games. Granted New Orleans abused their secondary and they made horrible mistakes against the Giants.

But they played New England tough and had Philadelphia on the ropes heading into the last quarter of play.

The lack of commitment of the players on the field is the real reason why Nolan is being fired. O’Sullivan, Gore and Bruce are too talented to be playing this bad yet the team won’t get rid of them.

The thing about the move that bothers me is the level of upside the team has for the rest of the year. Nolan has helped put a team on the field that can keep pace with any team.

Then again with the way Arizona are playing it is doubtful the Niners can seriously challenge for the division title.

Plus the NFC East is too tough for San Francisco to sneak into the playoffs.

But I think the squad can finish the season with at least six wins. They play the Rams twice, the Seahawks once and play the Bills, Dolphins and Jets.

I’m not saying they can win all of those games but they should be victorious in at least half.

The biggest problem will be what their defensive front can offer and not with the man calling the plays.

In the end, San Fran is a team on the cusp of being good. Nolan has done his job getting them to this point and could have stayed on until they eventually rise back to glory.

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