SANTA CLARA, Calif. - After five straight losing seasons, the San Francisco 49ers still believe everything is going according to coach Mike Nolan’s plan.
Nolan will return to the 49ers next season despite going 16-32 in his first three years with the club. Scot McCloughan, their top personnel executive, was formally announced as general manager Wednesday, getting a contract extension and a raise.
And other than those new business cards for McCloughan, 49ers owner John York apparently made no significant changes to his beleaguered franchise’s power structure after the longest streak of losing football in team history.
Nolan, who previously had the final say on all football decisions, and McCloughan will continue to make joint decisions on every issue for the 49ers (5-11), even though McCloughan now has “the trigger,” as Nolan put it.
“I will remain the one voice in this organization, and the face,” Nolan said. “I don’t believe it will change at all. The important thing is that we will maintain the relationship. We’ll still communicate on all issues. ... I’m not disappointed at all. I was in favor of it. I’ve been in favor of it for a long time.”
Nolan made one inevitable move by firing rookie offensive coordinator Jim Hostler, whose unit finished last in the NFL with 219 points. Nolan is on the lookout for a veteran NFL man to become San Francisco’s sixth offensive coordinator in six seasons.
But Hostler’s ouster appears to be the only significant alteration to the 49ers’ direction after a season that began with playoff hopes — and fell apart with an eight-game losing streak and an embarrassing public disagreement between the head coach and quarterback Alex Smith, the former No. 1 draft pick.
Nolan thinks he can mend his relationship with Smith, who said Nolan undermined him in the locker room after he complained about the severity of his separated shoulder, which kept him out for most of 10 games.
“If there was some way to improve the lack of communication, as Alex called it, I would have,” Nolan said. “We were two people exchanging conversations, but not hooking up well.”
San Francisco lost 20-7 at Cleveland last Sunday to complete an embarrassing run of losing for a franchise with five Super Bowl trophies. The 49ers haven’t finished better than 7-9 in three seasons under Nolan and McCloughan.
“It was a big part (of the decision) that Mike Nolan would be around, because I totally believe in what he started here, what we started here,” McCloughan said. “We’re all in this together, and we want to make the best decisions together.”
Their third season in San Francisco easily was the most disappointing, with 10 losses in 11 games erasing Nolan’s bold hopes for a playoff run. The season also was personally taxing on Nolan, whose father, former 49ers coach Dick Nolan, died one day before a game at Seattle.
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