The San Francisco 49ers stagnant coaching staff search livened up some over the past several days with notable hires of Tony Sparano as tight ends coach, Eric Mangini as defensive coordinator, and Jason Tarver as linebackers coach. The 49ers also are reported to be pursuing former New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell for a role as well.
Niners Nation's own James Brady put together a great piece analyzing the 49ers new coaching acquisitions and brought up some interesting questions about possible motives and what it all means.
Reading the tea leaves on these recent moves can lead to a bunch of different hypotheticals. Now before anyone goes nuts, a disclaimer: this is quasi-educated speculation. At this point, given what little, murky information ownership provides to the public, that's the only option those following the team are left with.
From one angle, the 49ers want to bolster Jim Tomsula-a defensive line coach lacking NFL-level head coaching experience-with a proven, veteran support system; one he can lean on to give both parties the best opportunity for success.
Fair enough, makes sense, right? This scenario seems like some smart, strategic rationale by owner, Jed York, and general manager, Trent Baalke.
Then there's the possible flip side of that:
The notion that the 49ers front office is putting the heat on Tomsula, the proverbial short leash, and already preparing for the event that he falls flat on his face.
The ones that suffer most in that possible situation are Tomsula and the fanbase. The front office is actively putting Tomsula in an incredibly stressful situation. Yes, he has on-field talent working in his favor. But beyond that, he's the following act to the 49ers' second-greatest coach of all-time, possibly being driven in several directions by Jed York and Trent Baalke, and now, he has a staff full of men who are at (or at least approaching) head-coaching level. And after seeing Tomsula and York/Baalke during that introductory press conference, a former head coach would seemingly only want to come to town if he knew he had a very good shot at becoming a head coach again, right? Why else would you come here to work under Jed York and Trent Baalke after seeing how the Harbaugh situation devolved and the shaky introduction of Jim Tomsula?
So will these guys really be there to help Tomsula look good and focus on game-planning each week? Or are they waiting in the weeds for Tomsula to falter so they can seize the throne? Or maybe it's an opportunity to work with talented players and look good despite him to land a leading gig elsewhere? I'm sure that's crossed Tomsula's mind—the prospect of these coaches breathing down his neck for their shot at a promotion. Now, much has been tirelessly said about the press conference and the interview, and I know that a press conference environment doesn't indicate a whole lot in trying to assess the man's acumen on the sidelines, but that press conference was a pressure situation. In many ways, it was far less of a pressure situation than coaching a live NFL game; and Tomsula did not handle it with aplomb.
Then, you can look at it from the potential perspectives of Trent and Jed. Is Trent covering his butt and preparing for Tomsula failure by staffing or at least "helping to staff" (since Baalke and York make it very clear that everything is a collective decision in the front office) previous head coaches? As James noted in his article, York is never one to hide his voracious, impossible desire to start winning multiple Super Bowls, right now.
The final act remains the most intriguing. Who will be the 49ers offensive coordinator? The smart money is that the 49ers are putting all their eggs in Chudzinski's basket, a dangerous proposition given the details we do know about.
The team has already requested to interview him and if they truly wanted someone else, wouldn't they have hired them by now? There's nothing yet indicating that Chudzinski won't re-sign with Indianapolis. They've already blocked San Francisco and St. Louis from interviewing him until his contract expires next week. If the 49ers miss out on him, where do they go? And if them banking on Chudzinski does turn out to be true, and they don't nab him, don't they end up looking a little silly? How would that look to the man they eventually name as offensive coordinator, possibly knowing you were the backup choice?
Like everything that's transpired over the past seven or eight months, it's all very foggy at the moment; who knows where the truth really lies. If nothing more, these are some scenarios to think about as things move forward. But even if it's only visceral, something about all of it just doesn't feel right.