49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

February 5, 2007

Question: Hopefully the Niners do not lose offensive coordinator Norv Turner, but if the Niners end up losing Turner to the Cowgirls, what are your thoughts on Boise State coach Chris Petersen, who recently received the Paul "Bear" Bryant College Coach of the Year award, taking his place? What are the chances of him being offered the position, and the chances of him accepting the position?
-- Mark, Rosemont

Answer: After watching that amazing bowl game last month, there isn’t anyone who wouldn’t be intrigued by a Boise State coach. However, Nolan’s biggest concern is continuity, meaning that if he lost Norv Turner he likely will promote someone from within. He also said he would compile a short list of outside candidates (he declined to divulge any of those names), but I think Jerry Sullivan, Pete Hoener or George Warhop will get the job.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Hey Matt. Why do you think Mike Nolan chose Greg Manusky over Donnie Henderson as his defensive coordinator? It seems that Henderson met all the criteria for Nolan's defensive coordinator: experience as a defensive coordinator in the 3-4 defense and the two had crossed coaching paths before. What was coach Nolan's problem with Henderson and does Manusky's hiring mean Nolan will continue to be heavily involved with the defensive calls on game day?
-- Brad, Davis.

Answer: I think the answer is personality. Nolan obviously doesn’t despise Henderson, or else he wouldn’t have interviewed him in the first place. But there must have been some issues when the two coached together at Baltimore because you’re right -- on paper Henderson meets all of Nolan’s criteria. Nolan is very picky when it comes to the personality of his coaches. For example, he fired defensive line coach Gary Emanuel because he didn’t think he had the right energy level to coach what will be a young defensive line in coming years. The bottom line is that Nolan liked Manusky’s personality more than Henderson’s.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: The hiring of Manusky as defensive coordinator seems a bit odd to me. If you decide not to hire someone with coordinator experience, then why didn't they consider Singletary? While Dallas is considering him for their head coach, it didn't seem as if the 49ers ever even considered him for their D-coord spot. If Singletary returns, will this cause issues in the coaching staff? Finally what can you tell us about Manusky?
-- Mike, Sacramento

Answer: These are very interesting questions, ones that Nolan has sort of danced around when he’s been asked them. According to Nolan, Singletary is irreplaceable in his current role, which is as the team motivator, the inspirational leader and a second set of eyes for Nolan. He also feels that Singletary will be a head coach sooner rather and later and doesn’t want to make him a d-coordinator this year only to see him leave the next. Still, Singletary is on record as saying he’d like the chance to coordinate the defense. If you read between the lines, he might feel that he hasn’t yet become a head coach because teams feel he is weak -- or at least unseasoned -- at calling plays. As far as Manusky, as a player he was a total overachiever -- a workaholic who squeezed out an awful lot of production despite very little talent. He’s smart and extremely well-prepared. In fact, you might call him a younger version of Mike Nolan — hence the hire.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: Hey Matt. Is there any chance the Niners will trade for Randy Moss, and who are they really interested in free agency and draft?
-- Andrew, San Francisco

Answer: An indifferent receiver who bucks authority and doesn’t block down field? Moss doesn’t sound like the kind of player Nolan wants in the locker room. A receiver the 49ers might go after in the draft is LSU’s Dwayne Bowe, who had an impressive week of practices at the Senior Bowl. He’s a high-energy guy who attacks the football -- a trait the 49ers love. They wouldn’t draft Bowe at No. 11 but could trade up later in the first round to nab him.
-- Matt Barrows

Question: If Norv Turner leaves the Niners, how much of a blow do you think that is and who are possible replacements? Personally, I think it's crucial for Alex Smith not to have to start from scratch again and have a new coordinator. What are the possibilites of Norv staying in San Francisco?
-- Usman, Owings Mills, MD.

Answer: Hi Usman. I'm sure the entire 49ers orgnization agrees with you about keeping Turner, who was cited over and over by Alex Smith this past season for improving his play. Mike Nolan has said that he doesn't want to start the offense from scratch for a third straight season, which likely means that receivers coach Jerry Sullivan will get the job if Norv leaves. Sullivan is a very sharp guy, so sharp in fact that Packers coach Mike McCarthy wanted to make him the Green Bay offensive coordinator when McCarthy left the 49ers last year. The chances of Norv staying? I think it's up to the Cowboys. The best bet is that they become so impressed with Jason Garrett-- who ostensibly will run the offense -- that they feel secure enough to hire a defensive minded coach like Wade Phillips or Ron Rivera.
-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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