It's no joke: McCarthy lands top Packers job

Did you hear the one about the offensive coordinator that came to San Francisco in 2005, bringing his own version of the vaunted West Coast system to resurrect the 49ers' floundering offense, then guided that attack to a dismal last-place finish in the NFL rankings with one of the worst showings ever by an offense since the league went to a 16-game schedule in 1978? Well, that guy is about to get hired as head coach of the Green Bay Packers.

It's no joke, folks.

Mike McCarthy somehow parlayed a fiasco of a first season in San Francisco into a head coaching position at age 42 with one of the league's most storied franchises.

Who would have thunk it? Apparently, directing the league's most sputtering attack on one of the league's worst teams has become a stepping stone to advancement in the NFL.

Sources confirmed Wednesday night that McCarthy indeed has been offered the position by Green Bay GM Ted Thompson and will officially sign on for the job as soon as the two sides can iron out details on a contract.

Thompson will no doubt have to answer for that choice in Packerland tomorrow, but he must have seen plenty of positives in McCarthy – who coached quarterbacks for Green Bay in 1999 before getting his first NFL coordinator gig in New Orleans a year later – despite the shoddy appearance of San Francisco's struggling 2005 offense.

Maybe it's a stroke of genius on Thompson's part. After all, the last former 49ers offensive coordinator to make his next coaching stop at Green Bay's head position was a guy named Mike Holmgren, who led the Packers to their last two Super Bowls, winning a Lombardi Trophy after the 1996 season.

McCarthy hardly had the success in San Francisco that belonged to Holmgren, who presided over offenses in San Francisco that ranked first (1989), second (1990) and third (1991) in the NFL during his three years as the team's coordinator before scoring the Green Bay job.

McCarthy presided over an offense that was historically bad, one of the worst in San Francisco history. The 2005 49ers produced only 3,587 yards of total offense, the fifth-lowest total of any team since the NFL started playing 16-game schedules. San Francisco finished with just 17 offensive touchdowns and only 1,898 passing yards – both franchise lows for a 16-game season – and the 49ers' 191 first downs also were a new team low.

The Niners produced 220 yards or fewer in 11 of their 16 games, 10 points or fewer in seven games and their offense finished ranked last or next-to-last in nine statistical categories recorded by the NFL.

McCarthy's reward? One of the top 32 jobs at the highest level of his profession in America.

It makes you stop and think how bad the 49ers offense might have been without him, if he's deemed so good to use that performance as a launching pad to bigger and better things.

It also makes you think what the 49ers will do now without him on an offense that was just beginning to show signs of hope at the end of the season. It's back to the drawing board for the 49ers on offense, and now coach Mike Nolan has another urgent matter to attend to along with the many others that will demand his attention this offseason.

There is no assistant on his current staff that's a viable candidate to step into the job, so Nolan will be busy the next few weeks looking for a replacement to fill a position that's so very vital to the 49ers' growth and progress. Nolan might not want to wait this year until the Senior Bowl – where Nolan's 49ers staff will coach the South team in the Jan. 28 game and the week leading up to it – which is where he interviewed McCarthy last year before offering him the job to come on board with the 49ers.

McCarthy, meanwhile, will be counting his lucky stars while the rest of us scratch our heads and wonder about his good fortune and startling career advancement.

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