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Mike Singletary Fired: Jim Harbaugh, Jon Gruden, Etc, Please Pick Up The White Courtesy Phone

Fooch's Note: Jed York and Jim Tomsula will have a press conference at noon pacific time today. We'll have an open thread with streaming video up at 11:45 pacific time.

Last night, upon returning to their Santa Clara offices following a disappointing 25-17 loss in St. Louis, 49ers owner Jed York lowered the boom and fired head coach Mike Singletary. While the move was inevitable, particularly in light of the playoff contention-ending loss to the Rams, the immediacy caught many of us off guard. With only one week left in the season, most folks figured he'd ride out the string, particularly in light of the sizable chunk of change remaining on his contract.

And just like that, the San Francisco 49ersfind themselves on the threshold of the most important month (or maybe even weeks) they've had since 2005. In early 2005 the 49ers canned Dennis Erickson and eventually handed over almost total control to Mike Nolan. We know how that turned out as Nolan was fired midway through the 2008 season and replaced by the recently fired Mike Singletary.

People are questioning the timing of the firing given the single week remaining in the 2010 NFL regular season. However, with speculation quick to development around the likes Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, and numerous others in the coming days, the timing could prove essential. In fact, any chance of landing Jim Harbaugh may center on discussions this week.

For those that don't know, Michigan fans are desperate to get Wolverine alum Jim Harbaugh coaching there. Rich Rodriguez is the current head coach and has them in a bowl game but has struggled quite a bit given high expectations. If Michigan fires him they owe a buyout of $4 million. However, if they wait until after the New Year it's reduced to $2.5 million. There's a rumor floating around the Internet that Harbaugh has a deal to go to Michigan to be announced after the Orange Bowl. So, maybe Jed feels that firing Singletary now gives him time to make a week long push for Harbaugh. I'm not saying that's the case, but it's certainly one reason for the decision last night.

Three weeks ago I put together a FanPost to brainstorm coaching candidatesin the event the 49ers decided to fire Mike Singletary. That has quickly become a reality and the time has come for the 49ers to put together a plan of attack. As comments came out from Jed York over the course of yesterday afternoon and evening, we have heard that money will not be an issue and that the team wants to get a GM in place to help with the coach search.

Given all that, the GM search is likely going to take priority in this initial week (which might kill the Jim Harbaugh theory above). In a quick scan of twitter (Maiocco and Barrows) I noticed some York comments that could provide some insight into this whole process. Maiocco tweeted that the 49ers will not interview any GM candidates currently with NFL teams until the end of the regular season. Barrows tweeted that York said the team has already placed some calls. If those two tweets are both accurate, we're talking about some outside parties (Kawakami tweeted NFP's Mike Lombardi as a possible candidate).

Assuming that gets worked out sooner rather than later, there are then numerous potential options for the head coaching position. Jim Harbaugh is one of the few names mentioned that does not have NFL head coaching experience. The other in the FanPost and in previous discussions is Rob Ryan. The rest of the list includes the likes of Jon Gruden, Mike Holmgren, Brian Billick, Bill Cowher, Jeff Fisher. Are there any coordinators that get you excited or are people generally looking for NFL experience unless it's Harbaugh?

I've included a fairly basic poll. Jim Harbaugh and Jon Gruden are arguably the two most mentioned names as potential replacements, but there are plenty of others to consider. As interviews are announced and we get a clear idea of candidates we'll have a new poll. In the meantime, let's hear what you have to say based on this fairly basic poll.