Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Honoring a mentor and friend

Read in Gwen Knapp's column yesterday where 49ers coach Mike Singletary, following his first win as a head coach recently, drove over to the home of Mike Nolan -- the man he'd replaced as head coach a few weeks earlier -- and gave him a game ball.

"I wanted to make sure that I let him know that I am always indebted to him as a friend and as a mentor."

In the same column, I learned that, "shortly after taking the interim job, [Coach Singletary] persuaded the 49ers to hire Ron Blum, a retired NFL official, and install him as an adviser in the booth upstairs."

When Singletary explained the decision to hire Blum, he sounded very much like an ardent and curious student of the game. He said he had started thoroughly reviewing the NFL rules a few years ago, and called referees and visited at least one, trying to get inside their heads.

"It's so gray that you begin to think, 'You know what, I need to go about this in a different way. I need to have someone around me who has some awareness that can explain some of these rules. Because I know what the rule is, but then it's ruled differently. Either I'm going to drive myself nuts trying to figure this out, or you get someone who speaks that language."