Timing is right to pull plug on Nolan

The 49ers took the sooner rather than later approach to firing Mike Nolan. In a move that you could see coming since the end of last season – and particularly during the past month while the team was unraveling after a 2-1 start – the powers that be in Ninerland decided Monday that Nolan no longer deserved to be part of that group, and it's really difficult to blame them.

Nolan confirmed to FOX Sports late Monday afternoon that he was fired by those higher on the organizational ladder than he – and really, that can only mean team ownership, since everybody knows Nolan always has been on an even plane with general manager Scot McCloughan, even after McCloughan was ostensibly promoted above Nolan in a "shakeup" after last year's disappointing 5-11 finish.

Well, now owner John York really has gone and shaken things up. And it's what he needed to do. The 49ers were not going to turn things around this year under Nolan's guidance. In fact, it has become painfully apparent they never were going to turn it around with Nolan running the show.

He's not the right man for the job. It certainly wouldn't be accurate to say he never was, because for all too long, Nolan – energetic, confident and in command – appeared to be the right guy to lead the 49ers back from the NFL abyss after he was York's choice to follow Dennis Erickson after the crash-and-burn 2-14 season of 2004.

But how far have the 49ers really come since then? Not very far, if you go by statistics and numbers. Not very far, if you go by wins and losses. And, in the final analysis, that's exactly what you should go by.

Nolan leaves the Niners with an 18-37 record, a .327 winning percentage. It's the second-worst winning percentage, behind Erickson, for any coach in team history who guided the team for one full season or more.

And, numbers aside, Nolan proved over and over that he sorely was lacking as a game-day coach, and that usually trickled down on Sundays to the entire operation around him.

It was time to pull the plug, instead of waiting around to watch the 49ers stumble around under Nolan for the final nine games of this season and maybe show some improvement – or maybe not – and maybe pick up a few victories here and there – or maybe not.

The 49ers would just be right back here in the same place at the end of December, saddled with their franchise-record sixth consecutive losing season and needing to fire Nolan and set out in a new direction.

Now they can get an early start on their future. Assistant head coach Mike Singletary will take over for the rest of the season, and he's the right man for the job, though it's understandable that some would lobby instead for offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who has been to the Super Bowl as a head coach.

Believe it or not, it still is the 49ers' goal to get back there someday. No doubt, their roster is adorned with much better talent now in that pursuit than it was before Nolan arrived. The 49ers are at a point now where they can strive to be competitive and respectable, always the first steps before a team can start thinking about a legitimate championship run.

But the 49ers are past due to take that next step, and that wasn't happening with Nolan in charge. And, sadly, it was never going to happen, which is why there was no reason to wait another moment to make a change.

Niners Digest Top Stories