Good riddance, Kevan
Last weekend, the 49ers made their ninth trade under head coach Mike Nolan, sending Kevan Barlow to the Jets for a conditional fourth-round draft pick. After a very promising start to his career, Barlow has been a disappointment. Most notably, there are whispers about his character – that he’s the kind of player who expects success but doesn’t like working for it. Personally, I saw a lot of early Ricky Watters in him – dancing laterally instead of putting his head down and pushing defenders back for that extra yard. Watters, despite being a nincompoop, eventually figured it out – but the jury is still out on Barlow.
And after learning of his trade, Barlow’s outburst makes me wonder how he’ll do in the New York media:
”Nolan just doesn't know what he's doing. He's a first-time head coach with too much power," Barlow said via cell phone from New York. "He has too much power as a first-time head coach. He walks around with a chip on his shoulder, like he's a dictator, like he's Hitler. People are scared of him. If it ain't Nolan's way, it's the highway.”... Barlow said his teammates "can't believe" how the trade occurred so abruptly before a game and in the wake of last week's talk with Nolan.
"It was dirty. He had no respect for me or the organization," Barlow said in the initial phone call. "He doesn't know about the 49ers way, and that's too bad because even his dad (Dick) was coach of the 49ers. Bill Walsh set the standard there, and he ain't living up to it."
Now, I think I was supposed to read that and be worried about the 49ers, but – aside from the Hitler comment (which Barlow quickly apologized for), of course – this reads to me like the kind of coach I want on my team. And players who don’t like that are the kind of players I’d prefer to go elsewhere. This is why Pete Carroll didn’t do well in New England but Bill Belichek did. Why Dave Campo was an outright failure in Dallas but Bill Parcells is turning things around. It’s why Norv Turner couldn’t ever be a head coach – they are all too nice, too focused on wanting people and players to like them. That’s an admirable trait, but it’s not what you need from a head coach.
And here is another thing, Kevan – what gives you the right to talk about Bill Walsh and the 49ers way? You weren’t here for any of that. And Walsh might have looked like a college professor, but he was tough as nails on people. Who let Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott and a host of other legends go before their time, simply because he thought he could make the team better without them? Walsh.
A memo to Kevan Barlow – put your head down on the field and off of it.