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 SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -The 49ers' empty suit finally got the boot.
Mike Nolan, San Francisco's dapper head coach, was fired Monday night after seven games in his fourth consecutive dismal season, ending his attempt to rebuild the five-time Super Bowl champions.
After four straight losses culminating in Sunday's 29-17 defeat to the New York Giants, the 49ers didn't even wait until their bye next week before replacing Nolan with assistant head coach Mike Singletary. The former Hall of Fame linebacker in Chicago will take over for the rest of the season, general manager Scot McCloughan said.
Although Nolan cut a striking figure on the 49ers' sideline in his custom-made dress suits and ties, his team's performances never matched his sartorial splendor. He was 18-37 in nearly 3 1/2 seasons with the 49ers, who hired the veteran defensive coordinator to run every aspect of the club in January 2005.
easure of respectability to a franchise that finished with the NFL's worst record in 2004, but he has the lowest winning percentage (.327) among any San Francisco coaches who made it through more than one season with the team. He barely avoided dismissal after finishing 5-11 last season, but couldn't even make it to midseason this fall.
``The decision was difficult, because Mike has been both a friend and valued coach of our team,'' said McCloughan, who was hired by Nolan but gained authority over the coach last year. ``My first obligation is to do what is in the best interest of our fans and the entire 49ers organization.''
Instead of logically delaying a decision on Nolan's fate until the bye following Sunday's home game against Seattle, McCloughan and owners John and Jed York suddenly couldn't wait another day to get rid of the family's choice to fix the 49ers, who have endured five consecutive losing seasons and haven't made the playoffs since 2002.
Nolan was the third NFL coach to be dismissed during the season, joining Oakland's Lane Kiffin and St. Louis' Scott Linehan. The Rams have won two straight games under interim coach Jim Haslett, and the Raiders are 1-1 under Tom Cable.
uncement.
Nolan seemed to have no idea he would be fired when he conducted his usual news conference earlier Monday, and he didn't return a phone call from The Associated Press. Several team executives - including Jed York - and coaches either wouldn't comment or didn't return phone messages, e-mails or text messages, while most 49ers players only knew what they heard on TV.
Such abrupt, secretive decision-making is no surprise from an organization run by the mercurial York family, which took over the 49ers after beloved owner Eddie DeBartolo lost control of the team in 2000 to his sister, Denise DeBartolo York.
The 49ers' fortunes have plummeted under the Yorks, who improbably gave power over every aspect of the Niners' football operations to Nolan, a career assistant who had never been a personnel executive. The unorthodox arrangement finally reached the conclusion many expected when Nolan was shown the door.
Singletary, the famed centerpiece of the Bears' dominant defense on their 1986 Super Bowl team, has been at Nolan's side since 2003, when he worked for Nolan on the Baltimore Ravens' coaching staff. Singletary interviewed for a handful of head coaching vacancies in recent years, but was out of the NFL from the end of his playing career in 1992 until joining the Ravens.
oach, gives him the ability to turn our season around,'' McCloughan said.
The 49ers didn't manage a winning season or make a significant impact on the league in Nolan's tenure. In fact, he might end up being best remembered in San Francisco for his insistence on wearing a suit and tie on the sideline for the 49ers' home games.
After two years of protracted negotiations with Reebok, which has a contract to supply clothing to the league's coaches, Nolan got permission to wear his specially designed suits for two games in 2006 and a full home season last year. He claimed they projected an image of authority while paying tribute to the league's former coaching greats, including his late father, Dick, who coached the 49ers and New Orleans Saints.
The 49ers fielded the NFL's worst offense during two of Nolan's first three seasons, including last year. His first two offensive coordinators - Mike McCarthy and Norv Turner - left after one season for head coaching jobs, and Mike Martz became his fourth offensive coordinator last winter.
Nolan's future also was heavily tied to quarterback Alex Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in 2005. Smith never became a consistent starter in his first three seasons, and had an embarrassing public spat with Nolan last year over the severity of the quarterback's shoulder injuries, which forced him onto injured reserve.
e quarterback went on injured reserve before the season began. The 49ers promoted veteran journeyman J.T. O'Sullivan to the starting job, but a decent offense under Martz's direction hasn't been able to counteract a defense that has yielded a league-high 196 points.

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