Head coach Mike Nolan and his staff will be coaching in January after all. Although the team did not qualify for postseason play, Nolan and his assistants will once again be coaching at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
This marks the third straight season that Nolan and his staff will have coached the all-star game, which will be played on January 26 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
Through the Senior Bowl's working agreement with the National Football League, the NFL office selects coaching staffs for the two teams of top NFL Draft prospects that participate in the event each year. The North team coaching staff is expected to be announced on Saturday.
"I think coaching the Senior Bowl is a great opportunity and a blessing for the entire San Francisco 49ers organization," Nolan said. "It's the best way to evaluate players that I've come to know. I think it's an exciting game, and it's an exciting bunch of players. 95 or 100 percent of the players make a team in the NFL, so that's huge."
The 49ers have certainly made the most of their recent opportunities to serve as a coaching staff in the 2006 and 2007 Senior Bowls.
In 2007, the 49ers selected six Senior Bowl players in the draft, more than any other NFL team, and the group included both of their 2007 first-round draft picks in linebacker Patrick Willis, named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year on Friday, and offensive lineman Joe Staley. The coaching staff also directly worked with third-round pick Ray McDonald while having additional interaction with some of their eventual picks in Jason Hill, Jay Moore and Thomas Clayton who played on the North squad.
The 49ers also drafted four players out of the nation's top bowl game the year before in Parys Haralson, Marcus Hudson, Manny Lawson and Michael Robinson.
"For us to have an opportunity to coach those guys and evaluate them first-hand in meetings, get to know them, eat with them and do all those things for an entire week puts us one up in the evaluation process" Nolan said. "Last year we had a chance to get a close look at both of our first round picks in Patrick Willis and Joe Staley. It is just a great opportunity."
Entering the 2007 NFL season, over 575 former Senior Bowl players were listed on the active rosters of the 32 NFL clubs, and the 49ers featured more former Senior Bowl players than any other team with 25. That list included several 49ers starters such as recently retired Pro Bowl defensive lineman Bryant Young, 11-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Larry Allen, wide receiver Arnaz Battle and safety Michael Lewis.
In addition to their coaching staff, the 49ers will also be bringing their training, video and equipment staffs to Mobile to maximize the many benefits that the players will receive through their participation in the Senior Bowl.