Former 49ers head coach Mike Nolan just spoke on 95.7 The Game. Here’s what he said.
Q: What is harder – being a dominant team that wins every week, or being a terrible team that loses every week?
NOLAN: Wow, that’s a tough one, only because, as you know, it really starts with your players first and foremost. I think you need to have – obviously, you need to have a good team. You need to have good players to first accomplish anything from the standpoint of winning. And then from there, I think your coordinators are critical.
The other thing I believe is players, as do coaches, it’s real important to have confidence in one another – not only trust, but confidence. I think as a player, I always thought that the better I was as a coach and the more I could help them play well, the more confidence and trust they would have in me. So, I think that’s always an important factor. Some guys try to be their buddy and friend, as you well know. It’s nice to have friends and guys you get along with, but most importantly as a player, you want a coach that is going to coach you to become a better player. And if you do that, you have confidence in winning ballgames. First off, you have confidence in your ability to play well. And then, you also have confidence in your coach to put you in a good position. And therefore, I think all of those things build up and lead up to confidence in winning.
The other factor is, naturally as a player, you look at the other guys around you. And players a lot of times will know if they have a strong team or not, because if a guy is scoring touchdowns all the time, your quarterback is always moving the ball down the field, you have great confidence in those players, so therefore your ability to have confidence that you’re going to win week in and week out and stay upbeat is a lot easier than when it’s just the opposite and guys are playing well and things like that.
Through the process, you either gain confidence in your coach, you either gain confidence in your peers or you start to lose it. And as the season gets longer, it’s extremely hard to maintain confidence if you just continue to lose, whether it’s a close game or not. I personally think blowouts just take guys to the depths of disaster.
Some people say, “Boy, I’d rather get blown out than lose by 1 point.” I’m just the opposite. At least I know I’m competitive, and at least I know I’m close to getting a victory if the game is close. But if I’m just getting waylaid every week like some of the teams, whether it’s Cleveland or the 49ers or even Chicago prior to yesterday – those are the hardest teams in my opinion to get up each week, because you’re not really given a whole lot of reason to feel good about things. Because you’re not just losing, you’re losing by large margins.
Q: What is ownership’s move here in the offseason? Do you stay the course another year with your front office, coaching staff, or do you make some sort of change? Because it’s going to be very difficult to see the fan base, which is dwindling as is, on another year of the same.
NOLAN: I take it you’re talking about the 49ers.
Q: Correct, hahahahahahaha.
NOLAN: You never mentioned them by name. Hahaha. Was that intentional? Haha.
Q: Uhhhh, well, yeah. You know, they’ve got me twisted up at this point.
NOLAN: A-hem. You know what? It’s sad that it’s gone to where it is. They’re beginning to look much like when I took the job over in 2005. They were coming off two prior seasons of 2-win and 4-win seasons. There really was not a lot of good personnel on the team.
The difference though that I think is better and will continue to be better is they will be a much better cap-situation football team going forward than we ever were back then. As a matter of fact, they’ll be very good because Paraag Marathe does do an excellent job at his position with the 49ers as far as keeping their numbers right with contracts and all that stuff.
But the losing is really killing them. And the personnel – I’ll say this, too – the personnel is NOT as bad as they’re playing. And that’s the thing that really gets under your skin as a coach, because you’re frustrated by what’s going on. But more importantly, as the organization and the brass at the very top, naturally when they’re thinking about, “Do we keep this receiver or move on?” – I think something that enters into the picture here that is not really talked about so much but it definitely has to be on the mind of the ownership and all, and that is they’re paying (Jim) Tomsula currently. They owe Jim at least two more years. If they make a change with Chip Kelly, that’s another three or four years on the books. So you’re going to have two head coaches you’re paying contracts. So if you go hire another guy, that’s a lot of money, just wasted money that’s out there on coaches.
The thing that I have thought most of the season was when people were talking about changes when the losses started to mount up, was not to change it. Because I know Trent (Baalke) personally, and Trent does a good job with personnel, and that’s his primary job. But, for a lot of strange reasons – guys retiring, guys quitting a couple years ago, just a lot of weird things that occurred – they’re roster has kind of fallen off a little bit, but it is still a much better roster than some of these other teams that are not winning have.
At least identify the problem correctly. It’s about players first, and I think they have the right guy in place to pick the players. But unfortunately for Trent, I think the choice of Tomsula hurt him, and currently right now Chip Kelly is not helping him either. All of a sudden you say, “Look, we can’t keep (Baalke), he’s the one that picked the last two guys,” I guess is maybe what they’re saying. I’m not sure overall. Nonetheless, that’s a blemish that Trent is going to have to carry a little bit.
But getting back to players, it’s about players first. They do not have a bad roster. Obviously they need a quarterback. But, they can be a .500 team in my opinion if they get a quarterback as near as next year. They’ve got a tough decision to make at the end, because you’re right – you don’t want to lose your fans. But yet, they’re going to lose a lot of money in the process, too. Where do you go?
I’ll say this – the team is making a hell of a lot of money, so maybe that isn’t a factor.