McCarthy in as offensive coordinator

Mike Nolan got the guy he wanted to take the 49ers back to their West Coast offensive roots.

The 49ers announced late this afternoon that they have signed Mike McCarthy to be San Francisco's new offensive coordinator, another example that Nolan – introduced as the 49ers' new head coach on Jan. 19 – has substantial pull and credibility around the league.

McCarthy, 41, was the New Orleans Saints' offensive coordinator the past five seasons. During that time, he emerged as one of the top young offensive strategists in the league and also the most successful offensive coordinator in New Orleans history after leading the Saints to several record-breaking seasons on that side of the ball.

The Saints set 10 team offensive records and 25 individual records during his five years with teh team.

That made McCarthy one of the NFL's hot young offensive coordinators, and he became available this offseason with the Saints allowing him to speak with other teams before his contract with New Orleans was scheduled to expire Feb. 15.

McCarthy interviewed with Jacksonville and Detroit and other teams also had shown interest in acquiring his services. One of them, obviously, was the 49ers, and Nolan met with McCarthy on Tuesday at the Senior Bowl in Alabama to discuss his vision of bringing the West Coast offense ideals back to San Francisco, where those concepts began a quarter-century ago under Bill Walsh.

McCarthy is well steeped and versed in that offense, which he has been involved with since joining former 49ers assistant coach Paul Hackett (who worked under Walsh) in 1989 when Hackett was head coach at the University of Pittsburgh.

McCarthy followed Hackett to the NFL when Hackett became offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993. He worked two years as an offensive assistant, then spent four seasons as quarterbacks coach. During his time with the Chiefs, coincidentally, McCarthy worked with three former 49ers quarterbacks – Joe Montana, Steve Bono and Elvis Grbac.

After a year as quarterbacks coach in Green Bay – where he worked with Brett Favre during another big year for the future Hall of Fame QB – McCarthy was ready for the big time, becoming offensive coordinator in New Orleans at the age of 36.

McCarthy immediately led an offensive revival in Orleans as the Saints finished in the NFL's top 10 in total offense each of his first two seasons with the team. In the previous 33 years before he arrived, the Saints ranked in the top 10 just three times. The Saints led the NFC with 432 points and a franchise-record 49 touchdowns in 2003. Each of the team's yearly scoring totals since McCarthy arrived rank in New Orleans' all-time top 10.

But the key to the hiring, as for as the 49ers and Nolan are concerned, is that McCarthy will bring back the West Coast system that the team had moved away from last year under former coach Dennis Erickson.

After he was hired last week, Nolan said his team would run some derivative of the West Coast offense. Now he has a true disciple of that system in the fold to run that offense, and McCarthy is expected to hold more power in offensive approach than any 49ers offensive coordinator in recent memory.

The 49ers also signed George Warhop to be their new offensive line coach.

Warhop joins San Francisco after spending two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. In his two seasons with the Cowboys, Warhop's offensive line helped account for 3,768 rushing yards, 25 rushing touchdowns and 216 first downs. Prior to his stint with Dallas, he spent five seasons as the offensive line coach for the Arizona Cardinals.

Niners Digest Top Stories