While we get to enjoy the start of the 2012 NFL Playoffs, the St. Louis Rams have quickly begun the process of searching for a new coach and general manager. A day after wrapping up a 2-14 season, the Rams fired head coach Steve Spagnuolo and his entire coaching staff and also canned general manager Billy Devaney. The Rams seemed to be on the return to relevance last season when they finished 7-9. However, things went south quickly as injuries and inconsistency ravaged the Rams. In Spagnuolo's three seasons as head coach, the Rams were 10-38.
As we learned last year during Harbaugh Watch 2011, the coaching rumors fly fast and furious once big names are available and positions start opening up. The Rams are reportedly in heavy pursuit of former Titans coach Jeff Fisher and our old friends the Miami Dolphins are trying to get in on the action. This whole situation took on an added wrinkle when word came out that the San Diego Chargers were actually going to retain head coach Norv Turner and GM A.J. Smith. There were some rumors of a Smith/Gruden pairing in St. Louis, and if San Diego opened up, Jeff Fisher might have been easy to entice there.
Aside from the Rams and the Dolphins, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking for a new coach and the Indianapolis Colts may follow suit sometime in the near future once they figure out their front office. The Bucs reportedly are interested in Fisher and have also begun interviewing some other candidates. You can check out Bucs Nation for more on that process.
The 49ers are thankfully in a good position with their coaching staff, but it is still worth noting how the rest of the division will be shaking out in the coming days. As we have seen in San Francisco, the right coach can do wonders for a struggling franchise. The Rams roster is in a worse position than the 49ers, but if they can get healthy and build up in free agency and the draft, we could be on our way to an eventual four-horse race in the NFC West. I'm all for the 49ers dominating the division from here to eternity, but if the NFC West could develop into a heavyweight in the NFL, I wouldn't be completely heartbroken over that.