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Mike Nolan (born March 7, 1959) is an American football coach is currently the linebackers coach for the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL), a former head coach for the 49ers, and a former defensive coordinator for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, Washington Redskins, New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, and Atlanta Falcons.[1]

Mike Nolan
Chest-up casually posed photograph of Nolan wearing a light colored button-up shirt with an Under Armour logo and sunglasses
Nolan in 2008
New Orleans Saints
Position:Linebackers coach
Personal information
Born: (1959-03-07) March 7, 1959 (age 60)
Baltimore, Maryland
Career information
Career history
As coach:
Head coaching record
Regular season:18–37 (.327)
Career:18–37 (.327)
Coaching stats at PFR

College yearsEdit

Nolan attended the University of Oregon and was a three-year letterman in football and starter at safety.

Coaching careerEdit

He has coached at the collegiate level at Stanford University, Rice University, and LSU before moving on to the National Football League.

The son of former San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints head coach, Dick Nolan, he signed with the 49ers in 2005 to be head coach, following in his father's footsteps. He also served as his own general manager. Nolan came to the Niners after establishing himself as the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, a position he held with three other teams: New York Jets (2000), Washington Redskins (1997–99), and New York Giants (1993–96).

Nolan and the 49ers selected Alex Smith with the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. Nolan thought Smith to be cerebral, introspective, and non-confrontational. Nolan also evaluated Aaron Rodgers but did not believe that Rodgers' attitude could co-exist with him.[2] Nolan finished the 2005 season with a 4–12 record. Nolan led a late season run and the 49ers improved in 2006 to 7–9. That led to expectations for the 2007 season, which included at least 9 wins and a playoff appearance. The season started well at 2–0, but an 8-game losing streak ended all hope of a playoff run. During the season, he publicly disagreed with Smith over the severity of the quarterback's shoulder injury.[3] Nolan had been under intense scrutiny in the Bay Area. After the season, Nolan lost his general manager position and on October 20, 2008, Nolan was fired and replaced by his assistant head coach Mike Singletary.[4]

In early 2009, Mike Nolan became the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos under Josh McDaniels. With a new 3-4 defense the Denver Broncos gave up the fewest points in the NFL (66) during the first six games of the season, and made their way to their first 6–0 start since the 1998 season in which they won Super Bowl XXXIII. The Broncos went 2 and 8 the rest of the way, and missed the playoffs. On January 18, 2010, Mike Nolan and Josh McDaniels mutually decided Nolan would resign as the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos.[1]

On January 19, 2010, Nolan was hired by the Miami Dolphins as Defensive Coordinator. On January 17, 2012, Nolan was hired by the Atlanta Falcons as Defensive Coordinator.[5]

Suit issueEdit

Following his hiring by the 49ers, Nolan asked the NFL for permission to wear a suit and tie on the sidelines as a tribute to his father. The league initially denied Nolan's request because of the contract it had with Reebok for its coaches to wear team-logo attire, a ruling that was changed during Nolan's second season as coach. In the new NFL policy, coaches were allowed to wear a full suit for only two home games per season. The suits were designed, marketed and labeled under the Reebok corporation. Nolan debuted the suit in a game at home against the Seattle Seahawks on November 19, 2006. A day later, Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio sported another Reebok suit on Monday Night Football.

After further lobbying by Nolan, the NFL and Reebok reached an agreement to allow suits to be worn at all home games in the 2007 season.[6]

After his firing from the 49ers, however, he has simply worn team-issued apparel in all subsequent coaching jobs.

Coaching treeEdit

Nolan has been linked to more than one coaching tree. He was a defensive coordinator for Brian Billick (who is part of the Sid Gillman/Bill Walsh coaching tree), Al Groh (who is part of the Bill Parcells coaching tree), and Norv Turner (part of the Jimmy Johnson tree). However, Nolan is most directly related to Dan Reeves. Reeves brought Nolan with him from Denver (where he was linebackers coach) to be the New York Giants defensive coordinator in 1993. Nolan excelled at the position and his success served as a springboard for later success with other teams.

NFL head coaching recordEdit

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
SF 2005 4 12 0 .250 4th in NFC West
SF 2006 7 9 0 .438 3rd in NFC West
SF 2007 5 11 0 .313 3rd in NFC West
SF 2008 2 5 0 .286 (fired)
SF Total 18 37 0 .327 0 0 .000
Total[7] 18 37 0 .327 0 0 .000

Personal lifeEdit

Married (to Kathy Nolan) with four children, and a devout Roman Catholic.[8] His sons are sometimes seen on the sidelines. He has three brothers and two sisters.

Attended Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, California and Woodside High School, the alma mater of Julian Edelman.

Nolan's father, former 49ers and Saints coach Dick Nolan, died at age 75 on November 11, 2007, just a day before Mike's 49ers were to take on the Seattle Seahawks. Nolan decided to coach the Monday Night Football game in honor of his dad, but was not able to get the win.


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Peterson, Gary (January 26, 2001), "Peterson: 49ers fans can play fantasy football over Aaron Rodgers vs. Alex Smith and Mike McCarthy vs. Mike Nolan", San Jose Mercury News, archived from the original on October 6, 2012, retrieved January 26, 2011, Nolan was no-nonsense, a strong personality who didn't like to be challenged. He met with Rodgers and Smith before the draft. He caught a whiff of attitude from Rodgers, and that was that.
  3. ^ Lynch, Kevin (October 20, 2008). "Why Mike Nolan was Fired". Hearst Communications. Archived from the original on August 18, 2013.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Dolphins hire Nolan". January 19, 2010.
  6. ^ Archived from the original on June 19, 2007. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Jim Mora Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks -
  8. ^ - Your expert source for NFL Football stats, scores, standings, blogs and fantasy news from NFL Football columnists Archived January 20, 2009, at the Wayback Machine