The Nolans: Father on son, Part II

In an interview with SFI from his home in suburban Dallas, Dick Nolan - 49ers head coach from 1968-75 - discusses issues regarding his son Mike taking over the same job he once held with the team. Today, in Part II, Nolan discusses the eight impressionable years his son was around the 49ers while he was head coach, the lone setback of Mike's career, his expectations for Mike in San Francisco, and if he thinks his son has what it takes to get the 49ers back to their high standards of yesteryear.

Q: How much do you think being around the 49ers during those eight impressionable years that you were head coach help get Mike to where he is today?

Dick Nolan: I think he learned from it and got a lot of good out of it. And those are things that are push him to make sure they stay good. He learned why certain things happen in football. And he just gets into everything, as far as diving into every aspect of the job and football. He is a guy that puts together the pieces, and then he sees the players doing what he wants them to do, and then he sees what happens from there.

Q: Did you see Mike develop a certain ease or comfort level for being around the NFL and NFL players during this period?

Dick Nolan: No question about it. He was a youngster, but he handled himself around the old guys as well as the young guys. He absorbed everything that was out there. Here he was, the coach's kid, and he was out there trying to teach these guys things. The guys liked him, and they used to just kid him about it and let him go through it. They already knew it, but they just let him keep going along.

Q: Mike was on the fast track to becoming an NFL head coach while still in his 30s, but was sidetracked by his experience with the Washington Redskins, who parted ways with him after the 1999 season. How much do you think that experience affected him and his climb to where he is today?

Dick Nolan: He just hung in there. Mike was braced for what happened there. He wasn't jut going to get up in somebody's face and cause problems. He took it like a man. He just looked at it and said, ‘Sure, fine, that's wonderful.' He wasn't going to let (Redskins owner) Daniel Snyder get to him. He just took it and when he got the chance to go and leave, that is what he did. Mike knows more about football than Daniel Snyder ever did or will.

Q: In a twist of coincidence, Mike was introduced as head coach on Jan. 19 – exactly 37 years to the day you were named as head coach of the 49ers in 1968. What is your take on that, Dick?

Dick Nolan: (Laughs). It's just a good omen. Something must have been meant to be to make it happen that way.

Q: What are your expectations for how it all will work out for Mike in San Francisco?

Dick Nolan: I think it will work out great for him. He knows a lot of my friends out there. He'll work hard at it and it will work out for him. He'll just go right along with things and make it work. That's Mike. It's not work to him. He enjoys it.

Q: Does he have what it takes to get the franchise back to its extraordinarily high standards?

Dick Nolan: He can get them back there. He has to work at it. He knows that – everybody knows that. But Mike, the way he is, he might not think the problems they have out there right now are too big. He might think, ‘I can handle those things real easily.' He'll do that. That's not to say he doesn't know it will take a lot of work. But that's what Mike does. He's going to be good. He'll do a great job.

Q: Will Dick Nolan be coming out west at some point to give his son a few pointers and some advice for the job?

Dick Nolan: (Laughs) I'm going to try to. I might be out there and raise some hell.


Niners Digest Top Stories