We reported that other night on rumors of former 49ers coach Mike Nolan putting together a staff, and of speculation in league circles that Nolan will become the Packers’ next defensive coordinator.
The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that Nolan has become the “clear front-runner” to replace Bob Sanders.
Nolan has 11 years of experience as a defensive coordinator, most recently with the Ravens.
“He’s good now.  He’s smart,” an unnamed scout told the Press-Gazette.  “He can run 3-4, 4-3, he knows it all.  It depends on what personnel you have.  He’ll do whatever, morph to whatever.  He’ll use your players to their strengths.  He’s smart that way.”


  1. I don’t care who the coordinator is; you have to have the players. Had Cullen Jenkins, Atari Bigby, AJ Hawk and Nick Barnette been healthy all year, the defense would have been good and Sanders would still be employed. So why would Nolan come to Green Bay? ……probably to be next in line if coach McPositive gets teh axe after next year.

  2. I hope for the sake of Packer fans around the nation that Nolan never employs his ‘Big Sub’ package. Ask any Niner fan about it, and you’ll be terrified about the prospect of Nolan joining your team.
    Nolan is garbage, and i wouldn’t trust him as a position coach…Nolan is worthless.

  3. Some guys are better coordinators than head coaches – Nolan falls into that category.
    And the first to welcome him to GB will be Arron Rodgers who will also thank him for NOT selecting him over Alex Smith.

  4. I’m excited for this. I like Winston Moss, but I feel more comfortable with the proven commodity in Nolan. The only thing I’m not particularly crazy about is the potential change to the 3-4.

  5. Why Nolan? Because McCarthy won’t have to worry that Nolan is in line for his job. Nolan might be better suited as a coordinator than a head coach, but I don’t think he’s a good fit for the Packers, other than his friendship with MM. The Packers should be looking for someone from the Eagles, who understands how to create pressure with a blitzing 4-3 defence. Maybe Thompson should demote MM to offensive coordinator, then hire the Giants defensive coordinator to be the new head coach.

  6. Can we stop giving this guy credit for the Ravens defense? They were good before he got there, they’re good since he’s left. Sure, he didn’t screw it up. But the credit for that defense goes to Ozzie Newsome, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. In that order.

  7. 1,000 dollars says Aaron Rodgers has another Favre-esque season, in terms of numbers, 4,000+ yards, 28 touchdowns… yet his team goes 7-9 on way to the defense allowing 421 points.

  8. “murray22 says:
    January 7th, 2009 at 12:16 pm
    Why Nolan? Because McCarthy won’t have to worry that Nolan is in line for his job. Nolan might be better suited as a coordinator than a head coach, but I don’t think he’s a good fit for the Packers, other than his friendship with MM. The Packers should be looking for someone from the Eagles, who understands how to create pressure with a blitzing 4-3 defence. Maybe Thompson should demote MM to offensive coordinator, then hire the Giants defensive coordinator to be the new head coach.”
    Great thinking outside the box, murray!

  9. Big Sub package was used almost exclusively against the Seahawks for the past 3 years. What made it highly questionable was the fact that it took one of the better players on the 49ers defense (Manny Lawson) and sat him on the bench for a DB, usually a safety. It’s basically a nickel defense where you use a safety instead of a CB.
    Nolan got a lot of flack for using the defense against the Seahawks this season when they were down to using WRs off the street and their RB had the biggest day of his season. He still thinks it was a good idea.

  10. No matter who the DC is TT HAS to get him some players (FA and draft picks that can come in and play NOW). Considering what was left of the D line the guys played hard.

  11. Joe in Raleigh hit it on the head – giving credit to any defensive coordinator from Baltimore is a fallacy. That defense could run itself…
    If Nolan ends up in Green Bay, good luck. Maybe he will fare better than his stint in SF, but he built that defense in SF and it was disgusting at times…and it is his supposed specialty!
    Just pray you don’t get the “Big Nickel” package or the joke that is the 3/4 – 4/3 “hybrid” Green Bay fans, pray your asses off.

  12. Hate Hate Hate. You are all hating on Nolan. He’s a good defensive coordinator, period. That’s what we need right now. He knows McCarthy, and McCarthy knows him. Saves everybody time in the long run. I have no doubt he will be light years better then Bob Sanders as defensive coordinator.
    Also: he can assist TT in locating new defensive talent coming out of college.
    One last thing: regardless of how good we looked in other games on defense at any given time during Sanders’ tenure with the club, we always got smoked by Dallas. Why? Because we were running the oldest scheme in the league. The same one Bates implemented in little “d” in the 90’s. They knew what we were trying to do on defense better then we did. Good riddance.

  13. “Can we stop giving this guy credit for the Ravens defense? They were good before he got there, they’re good since he’s left. Sure, he didn’t screw it up. But the credit for that defense goes to Ozzie Newsome, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. In that order. ”
    Actually, the Ravens dropped significantly in the defensive rankings his first year because they lost several players from their Super Bowl defense. Nolan got them back into the top 6 the next 2 years.

  14. Sanders biggest flaw was his inability to adjust his scheme to the players he had. Last year the Packers had very few injuries, so the scheme worked fine. This year they weren’t so lucky, and Sanders didn’t adjust. From what I’ve read about Nolan, his biggest asset is his ability to adjust the scheme to the players. I don’t think the Packers will run a 4-3 nor a 3-4 exclusively. They will probably mix it up to get different players in different positions on the field. This is probably a good thing with more and more 3-4 outside linebackers coming into the league. The Pack are currently built for a 4-3, but may have to draft a 3-4 guy to get any kind of rush next season.

  15. Not sure if I agree with Nolan here, as a packer fan im not against changing into the 3-4 or doing some form of both…I feel the Packers need to utilize the blitz a whole lot more. Everyone says injuries killed them this year, it was Sanders through and through. The guy put no pressure on anyone and we were picked apart by everyone. I want a disciple of jim johnson or dick lebeau…someone who knows how to apply pressure and confuse quarterbacks, im not convinced Nolan has that

  16. Mike Nolan has everyone fooled with his nice suits and slick attitude. Nolan was supposed to be a defensive Guru and the defensive savior in San Francisco. He is an overrated D coach thanks to a solid year in Baltimore. Last I checked the Baltimore D is as good as ever and it has nothing to do with Nolan. Mike Nolan’s umbrella of caution, big sub package, and over schemes hurt the 49ers defense. Here are the numbers and the facts don’t lie: The Niners ranked 25th on Defense the day Mike Nolan was fired, under interim coach Sing they closed out the season ranked a respectable 13th in the league? If Nolan was such a defensive mastermind, why did the 49ers Defense get significantly better under Coach Sing once Nolan was fired? Coincidence? I think not….

  17. Can we stop giving this guy credit for the Ravens defense? They were good before he got there, they’re good since he’s left.
    Sure, he didn’t screw it up.
    And thats the kicker, he worked with the Ravens defense when they were good..changed little to nothing to avoid “screwing it up”…learned what they did and went on…welcome to GB, thanks for your past history now teach us what you know

  18. Lets go Nolan…anyone is better than sanders we were out of position too much last season…and i hope Nolan is smart enough to out our guys in position…

  19. didn’t Nolan tried to implement 3-4 defense in SF, they even traded for Tully Banta Cain from the Patriots but could not get prototypical Nose tackle, i wonder what Nolan is going to do with GB??
    any way there are so few teams who play 3-4, it is much better than base 4-3 unless ur D coordinator is Jim Johnson or Spagnulo !!
    look at top 3 Sack leaders!

  20. Boo. I live in the DC area and remember his days with the Skins. Awful! Ask Norv Turner if Mike Nolan is a good DC. Not a chance. The silver lining here is with the lack of talent, (which will still be the case after TT throws his daft picks away on long shots) and Nolan the PACK D will be as horrific this year as last. So another 6-10 season and the three amigo’s are gone! MM and TT are nailing the lid on their own pine box! (Yes they should be buried together).
    I agree with murray22. The Pack should be looking for someone young off the Eagles, Ravens or Titans staff with some 21st century energy and idea’s. Nolan is and always will be a failure!

  21. Joe In Raleigh no cares about Baltimore all they are known is the massive amount of Heroin and the Ravens. Talk about 2 black eyes on that piece of crap town!

  22. From an October Blog just before Nolan was fired:
    In Defense Of Bad Defense…Mike Nolan.
    Posted on: October 12, 2008 11:35 pm
    Edited on: October 13, 2008 3:40 pm
    Score: 95
    There’s no defending it. When the defense is bad…it’s bad.
    I’m tired of seeing the 49ers lose due to poor defensive play. Chalk it up to bad gameplanning, in-game playcalling or poor execution. It doesn’t matter. If you allow an opponent to score 30+ points, you’re probably going to lose. The 49ers are suckers. We based Mike Nolan’s success on his stint with the Baltimore Ravens. Nolan’s defenses were 22nd, 3rd & 6th from 2002 to 2004, respectively. That’s a pretty good resume…until you realize that this was an defensive system designed by Marvin Lewis. You have to credit Lewis with molding a defense that was dominant enough to help the Ravens win a Super Bowl after the 2000 season. Nolan was handed the keys and kept it a smooth running machine for the next 3 years. We cannot credit Nolan with building this defense.
    Let’s take a further look at Nolan’s past…
    New York Giants – 1993-1996 – 5th, 11th, 17th, 14th.
    Washington Redskins – 1997-1999 – 16th, 24th, 30th.
    In 1993, Nolan took over much of the personnel from Bill Parcells. Let’s look at the dropoff after Nolan’s first year with the Giants. His defenses never cracked the top 10. When Nolan was in Washington, his defenses got progressively worse.
    In 3 years with the 49ers, Nolans defensive rankings are as follows…
    2005 – 32nd, 2006 – 26th, 2007 – 25th.
    In it’s 4th year, Nolan’s defense should’ve made significant improvement. He’s had say in the majority of the personnel decisions. He’s been able to bring in the free agents he wants (Nate Clements, Justin Smith). Nolan has infuence in the draft (Patrick Willis). This defense should be in the top 15! Instead, it is in the bottom half of the league. At the rate of current improvement, we’ll crack top 15 in 2011. Here are the roster “improvements” on defense over the last 3 years.
    1st rounders
    2008, pick 29 – DT, Kentwan Balmer
    2007, pick 11 – ILB, Patrick Willis
    2006, pick 22 – OLB, Manny Lawson
    Free agents…
    Nate Clements, CB – 2001 – 1st round (21st pick) by the Buffalo Bills
    Walt Harris, CB – 1996 – 1st round (13th pick) by the Chicago Bears
    Justin Smith, DE – 2001 – 1st round (4th pick) by the Cincinnati Bengals
    Takeo Spikes, LB – 1998 – 1st round (13th pick) by the Cincinnati Bengals
    Players that were not 1st round picks but are starters drafted 2nd or 3rd round.
    Ray McDonald, DE – 2007 – 3rd round (34th pick) by the San Francisco 49ers
    Michael Lewis, S – 2002 – 2nd round (26th pick) by the Philadelphia Eagles
    Mark Roman, S – 2000 – 2nd round (3rd pick) by the Cincinnati Bengals
    This list makes up 9 of the 11 starters on defense at the beginning of the season.
    Is the talent level that bad? Can we call it underachieving? In recent weeks, I have been blaming the 49ers failures on poor gameplanning and in-game playcalling. I was under the impression that the 49ers were set to run a 3-4 defense. You know, similar to the “Blitz”burg Steelers. I guess I’M the sucker because I haven’t seen much of the complex blitzing schemes that are prevalent in a 3-4 defense. The defense looks like a 4-3 most of the time with only 4 down linemen rushing the QB.
    I read an article earlier this week by San Jose Mercury News columnist Ann Killion. In that article mentioned Nolan’s stint with the Redskins and their owner Daniel Snyder.
    Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, the story goes, placed a carton of vanilla ice cream in Nolan’s office, where it was allowed to melt into a sticky mess. The mean-spirited prank underscored the owner’s criticism of his defensive coordinator’s read-and-react philosophy, which Snyder had termed “vanilla.”
    That story was considered just another in the Snyder-as-meddling-owner file. But it’s worth remembering now. Because Nolan’s philosophy and his defense’s inability to make the big stop and get off the field — all of that is bringing back the images of vanilla ice cream.
    Maybe there’s more truth to this than most people realize. After all, the reason that Nolan had so much success with the Ravens is that he had top notch personnel on the defensive line. A solid front four can apply pressure without the need for blitzing. The 49ers do not have that. It is up to a good coach to determine this and make adjustments…something I feel Nolan has failed to do.
    The rest part of Killion’s article reads like this…
    When Nolan has been asked this week what’s wrong with the defense, he has turned the issue back on his players, using words such as “errors” and “mistakes.”
    “In the last two weeks, we’ve made several errors on our own account and have hurt ourselves,” Nolan said. “Some have been technique, some have been mental.”
    None, though, apparently have been scheme or coaching. In another comment Monday, Nolan said it didn’t matter how well something was drawn up on the chalkboard, it comes down to execution.
    So Nolan is basically blaming his players for poor execution. I’m not buying that for a second. Reason being is that these are the players that Nolan wanted on the team. It’s up to him to make them perform.
    Nolan has to be on a short leash. At this point in the season, it’s pointless to say “it’s early in the season”. We are 2 games shy of the halfway mark. The 49ers are 2-4. The Cardinals came away with a strong win against the Cowboys. The Seahawks lost again. The Cardinals are clearly the favorite in the NFC West. The 49ers have an opportunity to compete in this division but we are squandering this opportunity on a weekly basis. If we can’t perform well enough after 3 years of rebuilding to compete in our division, then it is time for a change.
    The time is now Coach Nolan. I hope you can figure a way to stop the bleeding on defense. It’s killing the team AND your career.

  23. Does anyone else remember when you had to have some success to move up in the ranks of coaching?

  24. Why are there still ads featuring John McCain on this website? He is about the only person who had a worse December than Vox.

  25. i think nolan will be fine as dc for the pack. defensively he knows how to work with the talent he has. he has a fairly good history, as good as anyone out there, and he’ll be busting his ass to prove he’s worthy of another head coaching job. now if tt will open the checkbook a little and get a dt and a cb you’ll see a vastly improved defense.

  26. “I can handle things, I’m smart! Not like everybody says, like dumb… I’m smart and I want respect!”

  27. It appears no one is paying attention to how much the 49ers defense improved after Nolan was canned. Sure, he wasn’t the coordinator but he was trying to force his defense on personnel didn’t fit. After he left they went strictly to the 3-4 and over the last half of the year were one of the top scoring defenses in the league, and even dominated in the red zone.

  28. it really depends what Nolan convince MM to do. Should they switch to 3-4 and have a few years of transition or stay with 4-3. Like the source article says, Nolan originally played Niners 4-3 the first year and gradually transform its defense into 3-4. That didn’t work out well enough, but not sure if its Niner’s GM or his fault or both. Could he do better the second time around in changing Packers into a 3-4 defense?

  29. Now wait a minute… Nolan has been pretty much a failure every where he has been. Baltimore’s defense (as stated as his reference) was great before he got there, turned pretty average when he was coordinator, then was great again after he left. Prior to that, his defensive coordinator stint with the Redskins was a disaster – with pretty decent… well, ok… talent. His plum Head San Fran job was a complete screw up from the get go.
    Where does everyone get this idea that Nolan is this great coach? Just because he is a decent looking dude, a likable guy and a snappy dresser? Yikes Green Bay – stay away.

  30. The Packers do have the personnel to run a 3-4 defense. They can start Aaron Kampman and Cullen Jenkins at DE, Ryan Pickett at NT, Brandon Chillar and Brady Poppinga at OLB, with Barnett and Hawk in the middle. Poppinga was a DE in college, and could be a pass rush specialist. The Packers hold the 9th pick in the Draft, which they could use on a guy like Terrence Cody or Brian Orakpo.

  31. I’d like to have seen Sean McDermott from Philly given more consideration. Too much comfort here, not enough looking for the best guy. Well this is it for MM and maybe TT too, so they better hope Nolan will adapt to the players on hand and do a great job. I sure hope so.

  32. Classic mistake, hire someone who wouldn’t threaten your position. Nolan’s record is outlined above and it ain’t pretty, why anyone would hire him is a better question much less the GB Packers.
    The problem with the Packers this year was a vanilla defense and inability to make in game adjustments, the same problems Nolan had in his previous stints as DC.
    This would be a huge mistake, but another 6-10 season in GB and fat boy and Nolan will both be out of a job.

  33. time will tell about nolan, if he even gets the job, could be bullshit. but count on this if the defense stinks again, they will clean is a great qb coach, but someone has to question his play calling.

  34. not very many pro nolan comments in here. i am not a big supporter of the guy, and i didn’t care for bates. the defensive schemes were horrible. adjustments were just not made quick enough. in his defense though, the packers defense was decimated with injuries this past year. the d-line, with the exception of kampman, were all injured. the linebacking corps did ok. if we still had barnett, we could have probably played better even though he does tend to over persue on occasion. hawk has proven that he is better fit to be a middle linebacker instead of olb. i hope the packers can draft or sign (i’ll be honest, signing free agents isn’t tt’s montra) a dominant dt. i know the o-line needs drastic help, but we despirately need a big nose tackle. if we can get one, i think the defense will improve itself. no one can deny that the packers have some talented defensive players. i think with hawk and barnett in the middle and a good dt that we will have a top 10 defense in nolan’s first year. the packers have mostly undersized d-linemen and this has hurt us without the dt. look at any of the really good defenses in the nfl, everyone has a giant dt. if ten doesn’t resign fat albert, we should do EVERYTHING WE CAN TO GET HIM!!!
    collins proved himself this year, he is very solid
    atari is a great hitter, though a tad slow for a safety but he is capable
    harris is getting older but he should remain good enough until pat lee learns the defense more
    woody is a fine corner back
    hawk, chillar, pop, and barnett are all capable and should all be on the field at the same time
    kampman and jenkins are both good motor d-ends and they should both see much better statistics with health and a more capable dt.
    the depth isn’t there if we have another year of injuries but that is what the draft is for. the only players the packers should draft this year are defensive and offensive linemen. if they do this and they get decent production, the problems should be solved for the defense

  35. Too Many Tommy says:
    January 7th, 2009 at 5:32 pm
    Too many Tommy thinks the Packers will be lucky to win 6 games next year.
    jimicos thinks Too many Tommy’s act is getting old.

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