McCarthy's Former Boss Impressed

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49ers Head Coach Mike Nolan & Mike McCarthy

As the San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator in 2005, Mike McCarthy experienced first-hand the implementation of a new program by a first-time head coach, Mike Nolan.

Leaning on Nolan at times for advice, McCarthy successfully established his program in Green Bay in 2006, and his former boss is impressed with what he's seen from the Packers and McCarthy thus far.

"I thought in totality he did an outstanding job," Nolan said in an interview with Packers.com from the NFL Scouting Combine late last week. "Naturally it started a little bit slow, as it did for us even, but he finished strong, which is the way you want to finish a season."

Nolan did that with a struggling 49ers team in 2005, bouncing back from a 2-12 start to win the final two games and finish 4-12. San Francisco then improved by three more wins in 2006, to 7-9.

"It helps you build into the next year, and that's a better indicator of how you're doing than starting fast," Nolan said. "If you start fast, who knows why that is, but as the season wears along you have to be better to beat people.

"It's hard to luck into a win late in the year. You can get them early, but late in the year it means too much, just like them beating Chicago in the last game. It wasn't like a one-point game."

The 19-point win over the Bears in the season finale gave the Packers a four-game winning streak to end the year and an 8-8 mark, after going 4-12 in 2005.

The start of that four-game winning streak was against Nolan's 49ers, a 30-19 win on Dec. 10. In preparing for that game and reviewing the film afterward, Nolan saw a Green Bay team becoming a reflection of its head coach.

"Mike's a tough guy, a Pennsylvania tough guy, and his team is a tough team," Nolan said. "You could see him trying to mold that. Early in your first year like that it's hard to say your team is your team, but you're going in that direction, which is why I think he won some games (in the final month) like he did."

Upon becoming the Packers head coach in 2006, McCarthy turned to Nolan at times for advice on certain aspects like scheduling and fostering the right atmosphere within his new team.

Nolan said because McCarthy had gone through it with him the previous year, those conversations turned into more of a reinforcement than any groundbreaking knowledge.

"He makes his own decisions," Nolan said. "When he did call, a lot of times it was to ask, 'Why did we do it this way?' Because sometimes as an assistant (coach) you just do it. You remember it, but you just do it, and you don't really remember why it was set up. So it was questions like that."

{sportsad300}Nolan also credited McCarthy's strong relationship with General Manager Ted Thompson for the solid start to his head-coaching career, which holds future promise in his eyes.

"Mike's already a very good coach, and he's just going to get better," Nolan said. "He knows what it looks like, he's extremely hard working. He's a great match for Ted. They complement each other very well, and that's critical.

"In another situation, you could be with somebody where you feel you're a good coach but it's not going to work because the marriage isn't right. They've got a good thing going right there, and they'll only get better. I think Mike's going to be a head coach for a long time."

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