After two full days of meetings, deliberations, careful study and painstaking calculations, the Yorks reached the following conclusion: Man, our offense really stinks. By retaining Mike Nolan but insisting he part ways with offensive coordinator Jim Hostler (and likely some of his staff), the Yorks essentially looked at the football side of the 49ers and decided that it was half full. And maybe they have a point. The 49ers’ offense was so colossally horrible – last in eight offensive categories, four starting QBs, a team record in sacks allowed – that it was enough to make the entire team look like a franchise squad. When you break your shoelaces, after all, the shoe ceases to function. But you don’t throw out the whole shoe. You just get new laces.
Nolan, of course, has been planning this defense for several weeks. He has been effusive in his praise of the defense and special teams, but the offense – well, that’s another story. Hiring Ted Tollner in November was an early indication that he was willing to part ways with Jim Hostler. It’s likely that both he and Scot McCloughan, who couldn’t have been happy about how acquisitions like Ashley Lelie and Jason Hill were utilized this year, made the same argument to the Yorks: With a better offense, this is a playoff-calibre team.
Is that true? Skeptics will argue that no matter who runs the offense in 2008, it’s still Nolan who will make big offensive decisions, such as when to call time out and when to go for it on fourth down. Nolan, in case you haven’t noticed, hasn’t exactly hit the bull’s eye in either category. And Nolan's "umbrella of caution" will still spread over the entire team. Bringing him back also sweeps under the rug the ill will that the most important player on the team – Alex Smith – harbors toward Nolan. How will that be reconciled in 2008? Hopefully, Nolan’s first press conference of the New Year will provide answers. Stay tuned, Faithful.
-- Matt Barrows