49ers Blog and Q&A

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

December 13, 2007
Accountability seems to be lacking

You’re probably getting sick of reading about this Alex Smith v. Mike Nolan cage match. And to be perfectly honest with you, I’m sick of writing about it. And yet, there’s one thing that’s still bothering me. It has do with the accountability meeting Nolan was talking about on Tuesday and Wednesday. It was at this meeting – which I believe was held the Monday after the St. Louis Rams game – that Smith felt he was undermined by Nolan.

Nolan has explained that accountability meetings are brutal on everyone. The way I understand it, the meetings are held the Monday after every loss. (Nolan usually gives the players a day off after a win). In the meeting, coaches point out the mistakes that were made in the previous game. You know – blown coverages, missed assignments, ball security, penalties, turnovers, etc., etc. etc.

Said Nolan of accountability meetings: “I believe that everything we say in that meeting is hard on all the players, because nobody looks forward to a Monday meeting when you lose, guys. Nobody looks forward to looking at the film when they’ve played poorly -- ask any player.”

That all makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is why Nolan would take Smith to task at one of these accountability meetings. If the accountability meetings are meant to address in-game miscues then Smith’s issue would seem to be an odd thing to bring up in that forum. Nolan said he used Smith as an example of how the chain-of-information should flow regarding injuries. Usually the way it works is that a player will reveal his injuries to the medical staff and the medical staff deals with the head coach. But in cases where the medical staff clears a player for a game and that player still feels he can’t play, that player has to let the head coach know, Nolan said. He’s not a mind reader, after all.

You can see why Smith would be angry about that meeting. First of all, it takes away all blame from Nolan. Smith has said that Nolan was well aware of his injuries, and really, how could a head coach not be getting detailed reports about his $50 million starting quarterback. What Nolan said in the meeting, however, would leave the impression that Nolan was somehow kept out of the loop. It also leaves the impression that Smith is a wimp. The medical staff cleared Smith to play, after all. If his shoulder wasn’t the problem, it must be that he lacks guts.

The Chron this week reported that in that accountability meetings Nolan said that some players had "abandoned ship" and were boarding the rescue boat with the "women and children.” Asked about that Wednesday, Nolan had a strenuous denial:

“Did I ever say that? No, I did not. I did not even refer to that. And did I say Alex was? No. What I just said is exactly accurate guys and I’ll stand by it until the day I die.”

-- 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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