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Archive for Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Nolan new man in San Francisco

Ravens assistant takes charge of struggling 49ers

January 18, 2005

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— Baltimore defensive coordinator Mike Nolan accepted the San Francisco 49ers' head coaching position Monday and began to negotiate a contract to take over the team that had the NFL's worst record last season.

Nolan, a longtime coordinator for four teams who has never been a head coach, will replace Dennis Erickson, fired earlier in the month after going 9-23 in two seasons out of the playoffs.

San Francisco went 2-14 this season.

After wowing 49ers owner John York in an interview Thursday, Nolan accepted the offer Monday and flew to York's home in Ohio to work out a contract.

"(York) had a good strong list of candidates, and they felt that Mike was the perfect candidate to lead us into the future," 49ers spokesman Kirk Reynolds said.

Nolan earned the chance to follow in the footsteps of his father, Dick, who went 54-53-5 in eight seasons as the 49ers' coach from 1968-75, winning three straight division championships and reaching two NFC title games while getting the first playoff wins in franchise history.

Mike Nolan, 45, has been in charge of the Ravens' powerful defense since 2001, following stints as the coordinator with the New York Jets (2000), Washington (1997-99) and the New York Giants (1993-96). Baltimore ranked sixth in the NFL in total defense last season.

General manager Terry Donahue was fired along with Erickson, and Nolan will have a hand in picking Donahue's successor as York rebuilds the once-proud franchise, which will have the top pick in the next draft.

York, who didn't return a call seeking comment, has said he planned to hire a coach with broad powers, supplemented by a general manager who concentrates on salary cap issues.

Nolan was interviewed by York and two of the few remaining members of the 49ers' front office. He was offered the job Monday morning, beating out four other candidates: New England defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, thought to be Cleveland's top choice; Giants defensive coordinator Tim Lewis; and Tennessee coordinators Mike Heimerdinger and Jim Schwartz.

Southern California coach Pete Carroll, thought to be York's top choice after he fired Erickson, apparently was never contacted by the 49ers after initially saying he wasn't interested.

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