Following Jim Harbaugh's departure and hiring of Jim Tomsula as head coach, 49ers fans have been through quite an emotional test. Depending on how you process the "mutual parting of ways" of Harbaugh or the selection of Jim Tomsula, Jed York has become a villainous imbecile or brave owner wanting to rid the franchise of chaos and turmoil.
There has always been a strong like for Jim Tomsula within the 49ers organization and with fans. From my vantage point, Tomsula served as a perfect fall back option coach. But, it appears from reports and a retrospective look at the press conference, Tomsula was probably the 49ers first pick all along.
Jed York stated the 49ers expected the interview process to take approximately 7-10 days, which sounded extraordinarily quick by any metric. Trent Baalke followed up with the usual "as long as it takes" mantra, but the timeline given by York gave most the impression they already had someone in mind. In fact, York talked about wanting a teacher. On the 49ers coaching staff, Tomsula comes across as the very best teacher. You may disagree with the hire, but no fan can say Tomsula is not a teacher.
So, why go through the interview process and even float the idea that 49ers were making a strong push at Adam Gase?Who knows for sure. My feeling is they were looking to see if there was anyone better than Tomsula. And by better, someone who is completely on board with the direction of the team as outlined by York and Baalke.
And, for whatever reason, even with the knowledge defensive coordinator Vic Fangio would probably leave in this scenario -- it was not a shocking surprise. Disappointing or underwhelming, but the choice of Tomsula was not a complete surprise to 49ers fans.
So here we are, a little over two weeks since Harbaugh's departure, and it feels like there is still no direction and the organization is somewhat flailing.This goes back months for me and I touched on it in the Mark Jackson comparison. When 49ers lost Super Bowl XXVII, Harbaugh lost York. Since then, the turmoil and chaos -- which undoubtedly fueled a ridiculous amount of national and local leaks over the past year -- had to spawn some kind of resolution to the 49ers front office.
While it is my belief Jim Harbaugh is a superb coach, whatever magic Harbaugh brought to the 49ers had largely dissipated by mid-season (or perhaps even earlier). We saw it on the field and were hammered with reports of dysfunction from the media for over a year. Harbaugh and his personality had worn out its welcome. The front office likely mishandled a variety of things as well. Regardless of all those things, in the end, they couldn't work together.
Now that York has pulled the trigger, there are reports that York indicated to people in the building he was pretty sure Tomsula could win more games than Harbaugh. And, according to local media, Harbaugh got wind of that management sentiment. He and Tomsula barely spoke in the last several weeks.
We do not really know why the 49ers brass prefer Tomsula over Fangio. However, we are aware of Fangio's blunt personality. What is endearing to fans could be very difficult on an every day level. It is not too far fetched to believe management was not willing to deal with another hard-nosed, stubborn, blunt coach. Perhaps with Tomsula, management felt he could put an end to the adversarial relationship between the head coach and the front office. If Tomsula was chosen based on the belief, it could very well unify the team.
And, to maintain football credibility, it would be difficult to retain any of Harbaugh's assistants. While it is not impossible, management needs to be 100% sure everyone is one the same page.
After the reports Baalke had flown to Denver this week to meet with Gase and the Broncos coordinator was all but signed, the narrative became York versus Baalke. Yet, everyone (who happen to be in the loop) have said the same: Baalke and York are together in this process. Even if Gase was better than Tomsula, neither are the type to simply hand over the team and they know what they have in Tomsula -- a company man.
And, a company man is not necessarily the worst thing, as long as he can coach. We know Tomsula can coach and "teach" well. He will work in tandem with Baalke in the selection of coordinators and if done well, all is not lost. What is more, Baalke has a direction and has the support of York. While it is not completely transparent, it gives me confidence there is indeed a plan in place.
The local scuttlebutt is Baalke wants to return to the power run game and possible switch to a 4-3 defense. While the head coach selection is somewhat underwhelming and the release of all former assistants is surprising, my faith in the 49ers general manager will definitely be tested, but I do not think it is displaced. It may work and it may not. But, it is not quite the apocalyptic failure, either.