Two days after completing a 1-11 season, the Charlotte 49ers announced Monday they are sticking with football coach Brad Lambert but parting ways with three assistant coaches.
“This has been a profoundly disappointing season for our team, department and fans,” 49ers athletics director Judy Rose said in a statement. “We have to win games, plain and simple. With that said, coach Lambert and I have been in constant communication throughout this season. Coach Lambert is fully invested in making necessary changes to strengthen our program. ... Last year, we took a step forward. This year, we did not continue that trajectory but I am confident in coach Lambert’s ability to continue to lead us.”
The 49ers’ one-victory season came in their fifth year of football existence, all under Lambert, who is 17-41 with the 49ers with a contract that runs through 2020. After a 2013 start-up, the 49ers moved from the Football Championship Subdivision to Conference USA and the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2015. They are 7-29 in the three seasons since making the move and 4-20 in C-USA play over that time, including 1-7 this season. Although the 49ers were 4-8 in 2016, they also endured a 10-game losing streak that spanned the 2016 and ’17 seasons, at the time the longest in the nation.
“It’s important to remember that we took the quickest possible path into FBS play,” UNC Charlotte chancellor Phil Dubois said in a statement. “When the opportunity to compete beginning in 2015 in Conference USA presented itself as a result of conference realignments, that was an opportunity that we simply couldn’t pass up and that virtually all of our fan base supported with enthusiasm. But it certainly presented its own set of challenges for coach Lambert and his players.”
Lambert, who said after Saturday’s season-ending 31-12 loss against Florida Atlantic that he “was the right guy for this place” also announced Monday he had fired defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt, quarterbacks coach Jeff Mullen and receivers coach Damien Gary. Also, offensive coordinator Greg Adkins was demoted and will now coach the offensive line and running backs.
The 49ers finished near or at the bottom of nearly every offensive and defensive team statistical category in Conference USA this season.
“These are extremely difficult decisions for me to make,” Lambert said in a statement. “... Moving forward, we have to find ways to win games. We have got to get better and we have to win games.”
Mullen was one of Lambert’s original hires, spending four full seasons as the program’s offensive coordinator until he was replaced by Adkins in September and moved to quarterbacks coach. Mullen’s son, Nate, is a sophomore receiver/punt returner for the 49ers. Gary had also been with the program since its inception. Wallerstedt joined the 49ers in 2015.
David Scott: @davidscott14