Prince Richard: He's here. He'll get no satisfaction out of me. He isn't going to see me beg.
Prince Richard: When the fall is all that's left, it matters a great deal.
-The Lion in Winter -
As the 49ers find themselves in the precarious position of 1-6, the murmurs and speculation that hovers over the franchise all bear the same common denominator – new coach(s). And what speculation it is! Calls for experience, SuperBowl pedigree, a "big name", a college dynamo, someone with the emotional stamina, intellect, tactical nous and swagger that can lead this once universally-feared team back into the upper echelons of top-flight football. No small feat, to be sure, but such a position comes without the monumental responsibility of completely rebuilding the franchise from the ground up. In essence, to find a coach that can take a good team playing mediocre football, and turn them into a good team playing great football – same players( perhaps some minor alterations),different philosophy, psychology, execution and mental toughness. Mike Singletary seemed to have been that guy, rousing strong performances from an unenthusiastic roster and making them competitive again. But, sooner rather than later, gesturing must give way to cunning, and emotion give way to cold-hearted strategy.
Indeed, this isn’t the only glaring problem for the 49ers franchise, with the front office structure (or lack thereof) igniting constant debate and displeasure. It would seem obvious to many that the easiest way to build a championship-calibre front office would involve the "difficult" task of:
1. Find an NFL franchise with excellent front-office structure (Indiannapolis, New England, Baltimore, Atlanta).
2. Copy and paste into Santa Clara front office. ("Really, that’s all?" – Jed York)
Nevertheless, back to the issue of a potential new coach. Considering the possible lockout that looms next season, all franchise owners may be hesitant to appoint new coaches in case they have to fork out a year’s wages for a lame-duck season. Nevertheless, here are, in no particular order, some options for consideration as Head Coach. They will be broken down into two posts, this being NFL pedigree, the other College pedigree. This should be taken as an opportunity to consider options outside the Gruden/Cowher/Harbaugh merry-go-round, to cast the net further and explore all avenues. Feel free to add any other candidates you feel would be capable. All feedback is welcomed and encouraged, with manners, logic and humour in equal measure.
Head Coach Candidates via NFL:
- Leslie Frazier, DC, Minnesota Vikings: Coming through the ranks of the Tony Dungy hierarchy. Excellent ability to rebuild flagging defenses, calm under pressure, big game experience with a stoic personality.
- Gregg Williams, DC, New Orleans Saints : Creator of exotic, aggressive defensive packages that confuse many teams. Sean Payton took a $250,000 pay-cut so the Saints could sign him. DC of current Superbowl champions. Strong history of success.
- Kevin Gilbride, OC, New York Giants : Responsible for play-calling the Giants past the Packers in 2008, on route to defeating the undefeated Patriots in the SB.
- Mike Heirmerdinger, OC, Tennessee Titans: Dynamic football brain. Has made Tennessee one of the most potent offenses in the NFL this season. Strong play-off history.
- Brian Schottenheimer, OC, New York Jets: Son of Marty, and will be a future head coach somewhere someday. Lost out to Rex Ryan for the Jets gig. Has big potential.
- Marty Schottenheimer, Free Agent (205-139-1): Fired after taking the Chargers to a 14-2 season, probably due to his poor post-season record. If Cowher goes for 16 years to get one ring, then Marty surely get’s another shot. At the very least, an excellent OC option.
- Bill Cowher, Free Agent (161-99-1): A popular choice. Built a strong culture of continual success in Pittsburgh (15 seasons), culminating in a Superbowl win in 2005.
- Jon Gruden, Free Agent (100-85-0): Another popular choice. Won a Superbowl with Tampa Bay before his popularity plummeted as he drove players and the franchise into the ground.
Here is part 2 of the potential Head Coach list, with this one coming from the college ranks. While some may be hesitant to acquire a college HC as, for the most part it turns out to be somewhat of a big gamble, should the 49ers go down that path, many hope we strike gold and unearth a new Bill Walsh. The odds are unlikely, but hope springs eternal. This list is short but varied, and some of the names may seem unconventional. However, considering the long winter of disenchantment that has lingered around Candlestick, with the odd dose of hope and expectation thrown in here and there before that balloon bursts around the bye-week, the need to take a 'measured risk ' by delving into the college ranks may be upon us. Maybe. Again, this list is up for commentary and feedback, and if there are candidates that some like that aren't on this list, feel free to throw their name into the mix for discussion. Indeed, many of these coaches could be considered for Co-Ordinator positions as well.....
Head Coach candidates via College:
- Jim Harbaugh, HC, Stanford: Favourite of many due to his aggressive, smart brand of football that has rejuvenated Stanford and turned them into a contender. Excellent pedigree and football knowledge.
- Kirk Ferentz, HC, Iowa: The perennial head-coaching candidate who seems content to stay at Iowa. Would take something special to let him leave a program that he has done wonders to turn into a constant threat. Re-igniting a once all-powerful franchise might do the trick.
- Jeff Tedford, HC, Cal: Has done wonders at Cal with a tough budget and a healthy dose of politics. Could be a steal as an OC.
- Les Miles, HC, Louisiana State : ‘The Mad Hatter ‘ is an exceptionally creative, risk-taking coach who isn’t afraid to shake up the play-calling in any given situation to achieve results. Thinks outside the box. Would be a dynamic steal as an OC.
- Chip Kelly, HC, Oregon – Made the ducks an exciting,creative team with dynamic offensive packages and a relentlessness to score points and get the ball to playmakers.