Packers' (Lambeau) leap of faith on McCarthy paying off

January 11, 2013, 4:45 pm
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Talk about falling forward, right?

Mike McCarthy had just led the 49ers offense to a No. 32 overall ranking in the 32-team NFL -- last in the passing game and 30th in scoring for a team that finished 4-12. And yet, the offense coordinator wasn't fired or even reprimanded. Instead, he was rewarded with a head coaching job in Green Bay.

Say what? Say, well, what a (Lambeau?) leap of faith.

Seven-plus years later and McCarthy has led the Packers to a Super Bowl title and five playoff appearances in seven seasons. It's an impressive run that is making its latest stop Saturday where it started...sorta. Especially since the 49ers total offensive yardage figure from 2005 is the worst in the NFL in the past 10 years and the passing yardage from that season is the worst in 20 years

So how did he get hired away, again?

Only three players on the offensive side of the ball remain in San Francisco from McCarthy's star-crossed short tenure in quarterback Alex Smith, running back Frank Gore and long snapper Brian Jennings.

"He seemed like a head coach when I was with him, just the way he carried himself, the respect everybody had for him," Smith, then the rookie No. 1 overall draft pick, told the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.

In a twist of irony, after many observers thought the 49ers would use that top pick on Cal's Aaron Rodgers -- who instead fell to Green Bay at No. 24 -- McCarthy actually joined Rodgers with the Packers a year later.

Norv Turner became the 49ers offensive coordinator in the wake of McCarthy's departure.

"Every experience you have as an assistant coach helps shape you and prepares you to be a head coach," McCarthy said in a conference call with Bay Area reporters this week. "The opportunity to work in San Francisco was really a great one for me personally, on a number of different fronts.

"It was definitely a year that I enjoyed."

If nothing else, it afforded him the opportunity to get his first head coaching gig, and reflect upon his lone year with the 49ers.

"Candlestick (Park), I would rate the noise as pretty high, as far as the atmosphere that's created there," McCarthy said. "A playoff game, you've obviously got to take that to another level."


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