As mentioned several times already, this is the third straight year that head coach Mike Nolan and his staff are coaching the Senior Bowl, a fairly unprecedented run for the annual Mobile all-star game.
Even more unlikely than that is the fact that Nolan is on his fourth offensive coordinator as he embarks upon his fourth season as head coach of the 49ers.
"It's hard to believe, but yes, this is our fourth," said Nolan. "This week does at least allow the guys we retained on the offensive staff to work out any kinks if there are any, and to get more acquainted with each other."
Mike Martz joined the club about two weeks ago and instead of having to wait until March or April when the players come together for throwing school, the new coordinator has already been thrust into action because of the Senior Bowl.
"This is awesome," said Martz. "We had to get down here and get together quick without any preparation beforehand so it was full press court, but it gives us a chance to coach together before the mini camp and it allows you to get a feel for each other, how we run the drills and all of those things. So, this is nice for us."
Martz uses similar terminology installed two years ago by Norv Turner, and says he and the offensive assistant coaches are already speaking the same language.
"I've known these guys for a long time," said Martz. "I coached with George Warhop and go way back with Ted Tollner and Jerry Sullivan so it has come together real quick. I love their teaching and enthusiasm, and it's really been a lot of fun."
The 49ers coaching staff has a long and intense off-season awaiting them, but they believe this early on the field experience with Martz will give them an early foundation.
"We can look at some things, how we look at it, how we block it, how we want to scheme certain things, how we think about that, how we call things, how we look at things and how he looks at things," said Warhop. "It's a real benefit and gives us a head start on what we'll do this off-season."
While Warhop has been part of three of the 49ers Senior Bowl coaching stints, Martz last coached the all-star game while with the Washington Redskins, which is also when he worked with, and earned the respect of Nolan.
"I'm really excited to have Mike here," said Nolan. "He was successful as an offensive coordinator and as a head coach. He's got great command presence – he's very detailed and demanding of the players. I think at that position you've got to be able to inspire the players and make them better, and he has that. Players want to perform well and when they have a coach like Martz coaching them, they find out real quick that he'll make them better."
Martz is primarily working with the quarterbacks this week which for the South are Erik Ainge, Colt Brennan, and Andre Woodson.
"The thing that is so neat about this young men is they are just sponges and they hang on to every word and try to do it just the way you ask," said Martz. "They get frustrated because we are very demanding and they might not be used to that stress, but they have started to understand the sense or urgency. I'm really pleased with their efforts."
Nolan said he's noted a very high level of attentiveness from the players when it comes to Martz' demands.
"They are attentive as they ought to be because if they want to learn and be an NFL player, he's a great one to listen to," said Nolan. "I don't know if they'll have someone as good as Mike coaching them when they get to the NFL. So, they are all ears and they listen very well, and he's very direct and to the point with them."
Martz and Nolan are still hunting for a few more offensive assistant coaches, needing a running backs coach, a quarterbacks coach and an offensive assistant.
Ted Tollner is expected to stay on staff and could fill any one of those roles.
"Over the years I've had a chance to be most of the roles – head coach, coordinator, and position coach," said Tollner. "At this point in my career, I just want to be with some good guys and try to help the program win. What that role is, really isn't as important to me as long as it's something I think I can contribute in."
This week, Tollner is currently working with the running backs. .
"It's fun with the running backs because they want to be here and they want to show everyone what they can do," said Tollner. "They are all eyes and their effort is good and their concentration is good and they are talented."