The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners

The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners
A review and commentary on the history & lastest events surrounding the 17 time NFC Western Division & 5 -Time World Champion San Francisco 49ers. From 1946 and the All America Football Conference to 2009 and the road to a 6th Super Bowl title - For true fans of the scarlet and gold! Enjoy!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Two for the price of one: Turner taking down two franchises

Mark Kreidler,

Is Norv Turner finished in San Diego yet? Because it looks for all the world like they're keeping his seat warm in San Francisco. Oh, sure, it won't happen. Head coaches seldom voluntarily walk away from their bloated contracts in order to accept an assistant's job. There isn't really a rational line of thought under which Turner wakes up from his afternoon nap, has a sudden epiphany and declares, "I'm such a better coordinator than I am a leading man. San Diego can finish .500 without me. Let me go back to what I'm good at." We've bleated it before and we'll bleat it again: There is no substitute for figuring out where you excel in this world. No jury would convict Norv Turner for taking this third ill-fated ride of his on the NFL head coach merry-go-round, because, look, it's a really well-paying ride. But they need you up north, Norval. It's your calling. You must consider.

The head coach, Mike Nolan, is having communication problems with his putative starting quarterback. That quarterback, former No. 1 overall draft pick Alex Smith, has a lingering shoulder injury that seems to be growing in severity with every re-telling of the story (it's now scheduled to fall off completely next Tuesday). Smith, even while healthy, has been but a shell of the reasonably promising performer he was a year ago, when Turner was the offensive coordinator. The current offensive coordinator, Jim Hostler, left, has reached the point in his tenure that the club announced the Week 11 hiring of Ted Tollner as a sort of, you know, "helper" for the rest of the season.

By the way: What a rag-tag franchise the 49ers have become. What a wasteful mess of an organization with real, built-in value. When owner Denise DeBartolo York this week pronounced herself "devastated" to the San Francisco Chronicle over the state of things, she may really have done so oblivious to the fact that many, if not most, 49ers fans hold her and her husband, John York, directly responsible for said devastation up and down the franchise. From the day they fired Steve Mariucci without a Plan B, which led to the unhappy and virtually un-memorable Dennis Erickson era, the Yorks have consistently demonstrated almost no aptitude for the sports ownership thing. They have at times invested significant money -- it was never a matter of simple cheapskatery -- and it's clear from their words that, hey, all things being equal, they'd rather win than lose. They're just no good at it.

The latest from the DeBartolo-York axis is the word that, come the off-season, Mike Nolan will be yielding some of his organizational control to a yet-to-be-named general manager. That's not exactly ye olde vote of confidence for Nolan, but then 2-8 with possibly the worst offensive output in 49ers history does not inspire much. And that, bizarre as it sounds, brings us back to Norv. With Turner calling the shots as Nolan's offensive coordinator last season, Smith looked like a quarterback who might, with fair progress being marked at each turn along the way, become a bona fide force in the NFL. The offense as a whole wasn't setting the league on fire (26th overall, 303 yards per game), but Smith passed for close to 3,000 yards behind a shaky offensive line and with nothing more than an average receiving core. There was a chance to improve.

Right now, the 2007 season shapes up as almost a total loss for Smith, for Nolan and for the 49ers in general. Smith was lousy for weeks before getting officially banged up. He and Nolan publicly disagreed on the severity of his shoulder injury, with Nolan appearing to hint that Smith ought to get a little tougher. The injury turned out to be a Grade III sprain, which is severe enough to warrant consideration of surgery. So much for that theory. And the 49ers? Lost, simply lost. The offensive line is perhaps worse than ever, and whether it's Smith or Trent Dilfer or the recently signed Drew Olson back there throwing passes, it won't matter unless the San Francisco receiving corps gets over its recent bout of the dropsies. I don't know if Turner could fix all that. I do know that, in every iteration, Turner has proven himself a very capable and highly thought-of offensive coordinator -- as opposed, one has to note, to the weekly public-opinion beatings he takes as a head coach. It's probably even too much to speculate on what might have happened if the Nolan-Turner partnership had been given another year to run, in 2007. But, staring at the carcass on the field along Candlestick Point these days, it's tempting. And this, too: You hate for a decent guy like Turner to be the punchline to the joke about the time that the coach left one team and joined another, and both got worse.

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