West Coast on the way out?
"In terms of the West Coast offense, probably Seattle is as close to running the West Coast offense that was run in San Francisco in the '80s and early '90s," Turner said. The Seahawks, of course, have an offense being run by coach Mike Holmgren, who was San Francisco's offensive coordinator from 1989-1991, when the 49ers' offense was setting the standard for the rest of the NFL. As for his offensive philosophy, Turner outlined his thoughts of using a power running game and making big plays in the passing game. "I always smile when you read that the run sets up the pass or pass sets up the run," Turner said. "I think it changes every week, and ultimately the more things you get really good at, obviously, the harder you are to defend. That's our goal from Day 1: find out how many things we can be good at." Turner inherits an offense that was not good at much at all last season under offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy. The 49ers ranked last in the league in total offense, averaging just 224.2 yards of total offense. The passing game was abysmal, as the 49ers threw just three touchdown passes in the final 12 games of the season. They were held without an offensive touchdown in half of their games. Surprisingly, McCarthy left the 49ers after just one season to become head coach of the Green Bay Packers. That left 49ers coach Mike Nolan searching for an offensive coordinator with NFL experience that he figured he could count on to be around for a while. Turner was fired as Oakland's coach Jan. 3 after posting a 9-23 record in two seasons with the Raiders. The 49ers tried to run a truer form of the West Coast offense under McCarthy, but Nolan said he does not see any conflict in acclimating quarterback Alex Smith to Turner's scheme. In fact, he said about the only difference now between offenses in the NFL is the language that is used to call plays in the huddle. "They really aren't that different," Nolan said. "It's not like the run 'n' shoot versus the wishbone. There's a lot of common ground between the two offenses." Also, Nolan said because of the 49ers' youth and talent level, they were never able to get too in-depth into McCarthy's system. "We weren't able to go very far because of the situation we had," he said. "We stayed pretty tight because of the youth of the team. It's not like we had a vast knowledge of the system from a player's standpoint. We were still in the infant stages." Nolan pointed out that three of his offensive coaches - receivers coach Jerry Sullivan, offensive line coach George Warhop and tight ends coach Pete Hoener - have more years in Nolan's system than in the offensive scheme that McCarthy employed. "From a teaching standpoint, we have more experience in it," Nolan said. Turner will take the field next week for the first time as a member of the 49ers' coaching staff. He will accompany the staff to Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl. The 49ers have been selected to coach the South squad. "I'm going to make that trip," Turner said. "Mike said I didn't have to, and I told him that I wanted to go." NINERS NOTEBOOK --- Nolan said team owner John York will allow him to hire a veteran football administrator this offseason. "We have continued to talk," Nolan said. "I don't want to get into any specifics, but John has been supportive all the way through. He continues to be that way in the meetings." When asked if York will OK the hire if Nolan wants someone for the front office, Nolan answered, "Yes." Nolan is known to be pushing for someone to come into an organization that is severely lacking in the way of experienced "football people." Nolan and vice president of player personnel Scot McCloughan are the only knowledgeable football men in the club's hierarchy. Among the people the 49ers are rumored to be interested in are Seahawks vice president of football administration Mike Reinfeldt, Rams president of football operations Jay Zygmunt and former NFL executive Joe Mendes. --- Nolan said he expects the team to be better because of the tradeoff in which Turner replaces McCarthy as offensive coordinator. Nolan figures he will benefit from having Turner, a man with head coaching experience in both Washington and Oakland, on his staff. "Any time you lose a coach or face adversity, you have an opportunity to get better. And I do believe Norv is going to take us to the next level," Nolan said. "I do feel we've gotten better in a lot of respects, not only at the coordinator job but from standpoint of my job - having someone to talk to." --- Assistant head coach/linebackers Mike Singletary interviewed for the Lions' head coaching job, but general manager Matt Millen informed him he did not make the list of finalists. Singletary is viewed as a person who eventually will become a head coach in the NFL, but he received only one job interview despite the 10 jobs that became available. One drawback to Singletary is coaching inexperience. His first coaching job was with the Ravens in 2003. Some teams are concerned that Singletary would have a difficult time putting together a top-notch coaching staff. --- The 49ers will draft either No. 6 or 7 overall, but they might be as deserving of the No. 1 pick as any team in the league. The 49ers set an NFL record by being outgained by 2,672 yards this season - or 167 yards per game. The 49ers were pleased that Texas quarterback Vince Young decided to make himself eligible for the NFL Draft because he is expected to be chosen before the 49ers' turn to pick. The 49ers spot at No. 6 or 7 in the first round will be determined by a coin flip with the Raiders in February. Obviously, the 49ers have no interest in Young or Matt Leinart or any other quarterback who might be available in the first few rounds of the draft after taking Alex Smith with the No. 1 overall selection last year. "Anyone who bumps into those top picks, that always helps us," Nolan said. "It would be nice if there were five quarterbacks (chosen ahead of us) because we'd be sitting pretty good because we're not going to take a quarterback." --- Nolan warned McCarthy that he would not allow him to raid San Francisco's coaching staff when he became a head coach. When McCarthy landed the Packers' coaching job, he was able to take only one person from the 49ers' staff. Ben McAdoo, who held the entry-level position of assistant offensive line/quality control with the 49ers, was hired to become the Packers' tight ends coach. Nolan allowed McCarthy to take McAdoo with him because he knew it would further the career of the 28-year-old who worked with McCarthy with the Saints in 2004. --- Nolan was Turner's defensive coordinator for three seasons with the Redskins from 1997 to 1999, but parted ways with Turner and the Redskins in no small part because of the influence of Washington owner Daniel Snyder. Nolan said he was not fired as defensive coordinator by Snyder, who publicly ridiculed Nolan's job performance. Nolan said the parting was mutual. "We spent two good days talking about how we could try to make it work, but there was always this outside force interfering with us trying to make it work," Nolan said. "And we couldn't make it work. It was unfortunate for us in some respects, but in other ways, it was the best thing for both. It really was."
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