COHN: Falcons' Nolan will have hands full with 49ers

  • Atlanta Falcons new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan watches over NFL football practice, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Flowery Branch, Ga. For much of the free agency period, it appeared likely the Falcons would lose John Abraham, the team's top pass rusher. Instead Abraham has returned to find his new defensive coordinator is Nolan, who was the Jets' defensive coordinator for his 2000 rookie season. Abraham says it's a perfect fit. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

This was not the game we wanted. I'm being presumptuous speaking for you. I didn't want the 49ers to play Atlanta in the NFC Conference championship game. I wanted Seattle. I'm assuming you did, too.

That story line would have been an instant classic — two monsters of the NFC West facing each other the third time. Kind of like Ali vs. Frazier, Seattle and San Francisco, maybe the two best teams in the NFC, duking it out in Candlestick, and we'd have Jim Harbaugh vs. Pete Carroll and their personal rivalry and animosity and what's your deal.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers


But we didn't get that game. Life has a way of lousing up great story lines. Life also has a way of presenting new story lines.

Get this, the defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons is our old friend Mike Nolan. Some of you may be snickering at that name. He got fired as head coach in San Francisco and may be a joke around here — although not in the Mike-Singletary joke category.

Let me start by saying Nolan is a nice man and I like him — same goes for Singletary. While Singletary never made his bones as any kind of football coach, Nolan most certainly has. He is not a good head coach, but he is a dynamite defensive coordinator, one of the best in the business. Football people I know have the greatest respect for Nolan as a coordinator. You need to understand that.

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