The 49ers introduced their new head coach today and in so doing introduced their new owner. Whereas John York presided over the January press conference in which Mike Nolan kept his job but lost his personnel powers, today's presser was run by Jed York. The younger York, dressed in a power suit and red tie, was the first person to take the lectern. It was a signal that the son had taken over. "The San Francisco 49ers have a tradition of winning," York started out by saying. "I promise I won't rest until we reestablish a championship culture." It was also Jed York, with an assist from general manager Scot McCloughan, who gave Nolan the bad news yesterday. Jed York said that his mother and father helped with the decision, presumably via long distance from Ohio. All three are considered co-owners, although Jed is the only one continually at team headquarters.
According to McCloughan, Nolan's job had been on the line for "a couple of weeks" and his fate was sealed with the loss in the Meadowlands. The original plan was to fire Nolan before the bye but when word leaked out yesterday - it wasn't from the front office, McCloughan insisted (yeah, right) - the 49ers decided it would be too big of a distraction, so they let him go Monday afternoon. Why did the team allow Nolan to run a press conference at 12:15 p.m. at which he answered half a dozen questions about his job status if they knew he would be fired? McCloughan said the priority was to win Sunday's game against Seattle, and that Nolan gave them the best chance to do that.
As for interim head coach Mike Singletary. His voice filled the room today and he spoke passionately. But it didn't seem as if he was planning a whole lot of change. Both McCloughan and Singletary were hired by Nolan and both were careful to heap praise on the outgoing coach. Said Singletary: "There's not a whole lot of things I'm going to come in and change ... The most important thing is this (Seattle) game. I'm not creating something new and not reinventing the wheel." Later he said of Nolan: "He set the foundation. I'm going to build on the foundation."
Nolan's defense has been criticized as passive over the past three and half years. Asked if he was going to increase the intensity level, Singletary said the 49ers wouldn't blitz willy nilly every play. But he intimated that the intensity level would increase. "See if we continue to be passive. I don't think so," he said.
McCloughan confirmed that the team also had released offensive line coach George Warhop. Jason Tarver will take over the day-to-day coaching of the linebackers. Singletary said he wouldn't make any other changes to his staff.
*Update at 1:53 p.m.* The team just put out a statement from Mike Nolan:
"I want to thank the York Family for the opportunity to coach the San Francisco 49ers. It is the responsibility of the Head Coach to build a foundation and an environment for success. In many areas we were, although it is winning that ultimately determines success. I also want to thank our players for their dedication and willingness to work hard. Even during the toughest of times they remained strong and fought through it. It is difficult to put into words my respect for guys that played for the 49ers over the past 3 ½ seasons. They have my complete respect and admiration. I am forever indebted to them."
-- Matt Barrows