Nolan: Problem with 49ers systemic, 'they love you, then they hate you'

Nolan: Problem with 49ers systemic, 'they love you, then they hate you'

Mike Nolan had the so-called “trigger,” responsible for the final say on personnel matters during his first three seasons with the 49ers, beginning with his arrival in 2005.

That was the same year Trent Baalke arrived with the 49ers as an area scout responsible for the west region. Baalke worked under then-director of player personnel Scot McCloughan.

Nolan and McCloughan are long gone from the organization. And Baalke is the general manager of a team that finished 5-11 last season, fired coach Jim Tomsula after one season, replaced him with Chip Kelly, and has stumbled to a 1-6 start this year.

“The problem there in San Francisco, in my opinion, is systemic,” Nolan said during an appearance on CSN Bay Area’s 49ers Insider Podcast. “They love you, and then they hate you. They love the next guy, and then they don’t like him any more.

“Right now, unfortunately for Trent, he’s on the down slide. But about three years ago, he was the man, and there was a lot of love for him.”

[LISTEN: Mike Nolan reflects on time as 49ers coach and how it compares to now]

After the 49ers were eliminated from the playoff picture late in the 2014 season, the decision was made to part ways with coach Jim Harbaugh. Baalke promoted Tomsula from defensive line coach.

Only three starters from the 49ers’ Super Bowl team of 2012 remain on the 49ers’ 53-man roster: Colin Kaepernick, Joe Staley and Ahmad Brooks. The 49ers have been unable to freshen the lineup with players approaching the same levels as those who are no longer around.

But Nolan said he remains confident in Baalke’s ability to construct a winning roster.

“I think Trent is a good personnel guy. He has shown that. He’s done a good job,” Nolan said. “He was a lead scout for us when I was there. And (he) was the interim general manager when Scot was dealing with some personal issues when I was there in the fourth year (2008).

“So I think Trent does a very good job. I would hate to see Trent let go for anything after the season or if they dump it all on him, because when it comes to winning football games, you need to have good players, and you can do a lot worse than Trent Baalke when it comes to picking players.”

Nolan, whom CEO Jed York fired after the 49ers started 2-5 in 2008, noted Baalke was with the 49ers when the parameters were put into place of how the organization would go about constructing its roster. It is a system that Nolan said was installed over a period of years that took into account the ideals of Ozzie Newsome, Bill Parcells and Dan Reeves.

“When Harbaugh walked into there, believe me, as everybody knows, he walked into a pretty good situation with a great-looking football team,” Nolan said. “And that just doesn’t happen over night. That took us several years to get that thing in place, and part of that is staying on track.

“Now, the problem they’ve had as of late, as we all know, they’ve had a lot of continuity problems with players, whether it’s retirement – they’ve had a lot of strange things occur where they’ve lost some key guys. Trent is a very qualified guy to do his job, and I think he does a good job of it.”

Nolan said a lot of pieces are in place within the organization, including Paraag Marathe, whose football duties with the organization have not changed since having his title shifted from president to chief strategy officer and executive vice president of football operations.

“Paraag is a genius when it comes to the cap and contract negotiations, compensatory picks,” Nolan said. “And all those things affect winning on the field because they all affect players and how you can get good players. So there’s a lot of good in the building.

“Obviously, they have to get back on track with the personnel, but outside of that, they have to bring the building together again, in my opinion. Because when you hear a lot of rumblings on the outside that means there is some division on the inside. Otherwise, there would be no talk.”

There is no indication the 49ers plan to part ways with Baalke, who continues to travel throughout the country to scout college prospects. Baalke returned to the 49ers’ practice facility on Thursday after watching the Western Michigan-Ball State and Toledo-Akron games earlier in the week.

Bowman guarantees he will not be odd-man out of 49ers' competition

Bowman guarantees he will not be odd-man out of 49ers' competition

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ biggest free-agent acquisition on defense and one of the team’s first-round draft picks play the same position.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said he is holding off on thinking about how everything is going to play out this season at the linebacker position.

“I really try not to envision it too hard because I see a lot of good players there,” Shanahan said Tuesday during the 49ers’ first week of organized team activities.

The 49ers awarded weakside linebacker Malcolm Smith guaranteed money as an unrestricted free agent totaling approximately $12 million. Then, on the first day of the draft, the 49ers’ No. 3 rated prospect experienced a free fall, and the club traded into the back end of the first round to select him.

While Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster has been sidelined through the offseason program as he recovers from shoulder injury, he figures to compete with Smith for the starting job. Foster will also learn middle linebacker, where NaVorro Bowman has earned first-team All-Pro honors in four seasons.

Bowman looks to be nearly all the way back from a torn Achilles that limited him to just four games last season.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen,” Shanahan said. “Seeing Bow out here and how healthy he’s been, knowing we’ve added some good free agents, and the way the draft worked out, having a linebacker we had ranked very highly fall to us at the end of the first round. We got a lot better pretty fast.

“When you ask me how it’s going to play out, I’m not sure. It’s a good problem to have. It’s something you’d like to have any every position. There’s going to be a very good player who’s not out there all the time. That’s not a bad thing. That makes the two guys who are out there go a lot harder and play better. It makes special teams better and it allowed you to survive injuries, which almost always happen.”

Bowman’s vision for the upcoming season includes him retaining his role in the middle of the 49ers’ defense.

"I won't be on the sideline, I'll tell you that right now,” Bowman said.

Bowman said he was not fazed with the 49ers selected Foster in the first round. Foster is likely considered the heir apparent to Bowman.

Shanahan called Bowman after the selection of Foster was made, but Bowman said he did not need to speak with the coach about why the selection was made.

“I wasn’t expecting it,” Bowman said of the phone call, “but it was good to hear from him, to see that he had something to say or an idea of what he wanted to get across to me.

“But we haven’t talked about it. I did that on purpose. It doesn’t matter to me. I’ll compete with anyone, whether he’s 21 or 35. It doesn’t matter. I’m a guy who’s going to give my best effort and have full confidence in my abilities to play this game. I know how much I study this game. I know how good I am and that’s what was going to bring back here.

“It’s always a competition. There’s always someone trying to take your spot. As a player, if you keep that in mind, you’ll always put the work in that’s needed.”

 

49ers reissue Bryant Young's number

49ers reissue Bryant Young's number

SANTA CLARA -- For the first time since Bryant Young retired following the 2007 season, the 49ers have placed his old number back into service.

Linebacker Dekoda Watson was issued No. 97 for the team’s organized team activities this week.

Young was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and eight-time winner of the Len Eshmont Award as the 49ers’ most inspirational and courageous player. No 49ers player has worn No. 97 in the past nine seasons or offseasons.

Rookie defensive lineman Solomon Thomas is now wearing No. 94 after being issued No. 96 for the rookie minicamp. Linebacker Reuben Foster is wearing No. 56.

Rookie defensive tackle D.J. Jones now wearing No. 96. Cornerback Rashard Robinson switched back to No. 33 after an earlier change to No. 26. Running back Kapri Bibbs is now 26. Rookie running back Joe Williams is No. 32 after wearing No. 33 at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere in Los Angeles over the weekend. Veteran running back Tim Hightower is wearing No. 22.