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Nolan’s Intensity Has High Value - By Bryan Hersh Feb 7 2006

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The Steelers won the Super Bowl, and although some people are attributing the win to luck, un-fair officiating, or the Seahawk’s ineptitude I feel quite differently. I feel the Steelers won the Super Bowl because of their head coach – Bill Cowher. And here’s the kicker, 49ers head coach Mike Nolan reminds me a whole lot of Cowher.

Cowher has had a really amazing career as a head coach. He has managed to survive major ups and downs with the Steelers. He has seen the team change its identity – particularly on the offensive side of the ball, at least twice. He has been there through quarterback transitions, changes to his staff, and all the while his loyalty to the team, and the team’s loyalty to him has brought a necessary consistency to the team. A consistency that allowed the Steelers to tie the 49ers and Cowboys for five Super Bowl victories this season.

I am not going to sit here and debate if Cowher out coached Mike Holmgren in the Super Bowl. I believe he did, but I can see how others would feel differently. What I will tell you, is that Cowher’s coaching over the last two years aligned his team to win this past weekend. And that, I believe his ability to align the team for this victory can be attributed to his intensity as a coach.

Cowher is one of the most intense coaches in the league. He is ‘in your face’ with his players, shows his passion, and rarely uncrosses his arms from his chest. He is a football man through and through. It is that determination that drives him, and fuels his team to perform at their best. Over the past two years, it is that intensity that has taken a talented team and allowed them to play above their talent level. Putting all the x’s and o’s aside, which incidentally Cowher is no slouch at either, I believe it is his nature that has allowed him to achieve the strong career he has had so far.

Enter Mike Nolan. Like Cowher, Nolan is very much a football guy. It’s in his blood (literally) and I believe that as a result Nolan shares the same passion and intensity as Cowher does. Ultimately, I hope this will mean Nolan will have the same type of success as Cowher has had this past season – but of course, Nolan has a little further to go before the 49ers are winning Super Bowls again.

Like Cowher, Nolan must overcome the adversity of having a young quarterback, but unlike Cowher Nolan’s QB protégé did not have a record breaking rookie season. Here I believe the addition of the hard lined coach Norv Turner will be an asset to Nolan as he tries to drive the hard line, and re-build the 49ers. I also think that the combined offensive mind of Turner, and defensive mind of Noaln will help the 49ers build the proper x’s and o’s to rival the league’s best.

Nolan’s actions since joining the 49ers have all been aligned with his personality. Sometimes I have disagreed with Nolan’s moves, like when he released a playmaker like Jamie Winborn, but ultimately I have agreed with his motive. Establish accountability within the organization. Make sure that every player and coach knows the order and discipline of the team – and acts in a professional manner. From there, Nolan can use his intensity to motivate and drive his player to over perform – because ultimately I believe that is what distinguishes a team from winning a Super Bowl and just making the playoffs.

I believe that Mike Nolan is the right type of coach for the 49ers. His passion for the game, his intensity will get players to believe in him. If Nolan can crowd out some of his questionable decisions, both on game day and during the off-season, I believe he can make this team successful once again. I hope that the addition of a veteran coach like Norv Turner, and a football guy in the front office, will allow him reduce those mistakes, and thus allow him to leverage his passion to motivate the team to the success.

 
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