Liotta: Wrong person takes fall for 49ers’ issues 

Mike Nolan returns. Neutered. Not good enough to be the man in charge of the 49ers’ football department.

Nolan, the man who put the 49ers back together again after the Terry Donahue debacle, was smart enough to hire Scot McCloughan (now the 49ers’ general manager).

Smart enough tohire Mike McCarthy (now the head coach of the Green Bay Packers).

Smart enough to hire Norv Turner (now the head coach of the San Diego Chargers).

Smart enough to hire Mike Singletary (football’s favorite interviewee for head-coaching jobs).

Smart enough to select with the 11th overall pick last year linebacker Patrick Willis (the Defensive Rookie of the Year).

Nolan, along with McCloughan, brought class and a competitive nature — but apparently not enough wins — back to the 49ers. And this is how they repay him. With a public humiliation. By allowing him to return with his tail between his legs as only the football coach.

Mike Nolan deserved better. The Yorks don’t deserve him.

Random thoughts:

» My new favorite story regarding Bryant Young: Nolan told Peter King of Sports Illustrated that, in practice, Young loved to "be first in all the drills and he’ll hustle to get there, just to be first. Now, he’s got guys who will actually race to get to the drills in front of him." The Niners will be reminded of what Young has left them every time a player races to be first for a drill next season. A priceless contribution.

» As great as Randy Moss has been this year, I can’t get out of my head what a petulant quitter he was while with the Raiders. Playing football is easy when the team you play for is winning. It’s hard as hell to play when that team is losing. Moss couldn’t do it.

» Beware the Washington Redskins this playoff season. Over the last four weeks, what was the worst bad-weather team in football beat the Chicago Bears in the cold, beat the New York Giants in the slop, beat the Minnesota Vikings in a dome and beat the Dallas Cowboys in a downpour.

» It’s official. College football’s bowl games are too long.

» How’s this for the other end of the Bay Area’s place in sports: From the fourth game of the AL Championship Series through Sunday, the Boston sports fan has witnessed the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics combine to win 48 of 51 games.

» Still can’t get over Saturday’s New England Patriots-Giants game. That was why sports fans care about these silly games. What looked like a mismatch, just-get-it-over-with game on paper blossomed a titanic football game that elevated everybody who witnessed it, reminding us of Flutie-Kozar, Ali-Frazier, Borg-McEnroe, et al.

» Anybody who second-guesses Tom Coughlin or the Giants about their approach last week against the Pats — and how that affects their effort against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this weekend — has a cowardly approach to competing.

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner.

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