Cowboys fire ex-49ers coaches Nolan, Tomsula after 6-10 season

Mike Nolan

The Dallas Cowboys' coaching staff won't be a safe haven for former 49ers head coaches again next season.

The Cowboys fired defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula on Friday after just one season with the team. Nolan was the 49ers' head coach from 2005 through '08, while Tomsula served in the same position in 2015.

Mike McCarthy, the Cowboys' current head coach, was Nolan's offensive coordinator with the 49ers in 2005 and Tomsula was Nolan's defensive line coach for parts of two seasons in 2007 and '08 before the 49ers fired Nolan.

“I am appreciative of my relationships with both Mike and Jim, and I am grateful for the contributions that both of them made to our team under difficult circumstances in 2020,” McCarthy said Friday in a statement. “These are never easy decisions to make, and we wish them, and their families, the very best in the future.”

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The Cowboys allowed the 10th-most yards per game (386.4) just a season removed from giving up the ninth-fewest (327.0). Dallas failed to contain the run, allowing a staggering 158.8 yards per game on the ground in 2020.

While the Cowboys didn't have the defensive success they envisioned under a pair of former 49ers coaches, former 49ers defensive end Aldon Smith had a strong season. Smith recorded 5.0 sacks in 2020, after missing the entirety of the previous four seasons due to suspensions. 

Although, the 31-year-old is set to become a free agent this offseason, The Athletic's Bob Sturm wrote last month that he "[believed] they ... have every intention of keeping [Smith]" in Dallas.


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