The San Francisco 49ers coaching search has been going on for over a month now. It started with Jim Harbaugh departing, picked up steam through the search for a head coach, and now is coming down the stretch with the search for assistant coaches.
Through it all, there has been quite a bit of turmoil among 49ers fans. It has become an us vs. them situation, which has often been the case with a variety of 49ers-related topics. Lately, it has become a battle of people viewed by one side as cynics versus people viewed by the other side as "Yorkists" or overly optimistic people, or whatever you want to call them. This is not the first time battle lines have been drawn. In the recent past, we can look at the Alex Smith debate as what some might view as a framework for the us vs. them "black and white" type of debate. Colin Kaepernick's emergence as the 49ers starter and then inconsistencies this past year have only further pushed the black and white debate people seem to view with the quarterback position.
With all of these debates, if you disagree with someone, you're quickly labeled a "hater". If some people choose to agree on a topic in support of a 49ers player (or the front office or whatever), you're viewed as a homer who is blind to reality. I realize this does not apply to everybody here, but it has developed as a vocal minority in the comments, on Twitter, and with 49ers fans in general. In reality it can be applied to any fanbase, but obviously we're here to talk about the 49ers.
As we look at the 49ers search and whatever plan they may or may not have, I think it is important to remember that both sides of this debate can be seen as having reasonable viewpoints. Obviously some express this better than others, but the viewpoint is there.
If someone is not happy with this offseason, and skeptical about what is going on, it does not mean they are haters. The 49ers moved on from one of the more successful head coaches in NFL history. The constant media storm of negativity makes it easy to view this as a personality conflict that should have been resolved in the name of winning. It wasn't resolved, and so the team went into a coaching search. This search resulted in the promotion of a guy that was being discussed as potentially the next head coach back in November. It is easy to see this happen and think the process was a farce.
The follow-up with assistant coaches has not exactly provided confidence in the team's direction. We have heard numerous names connected to various jobs, and many of these names have then either leveraged the 49ers for a raise at their current job, or made another choice. We can point to reasons for some of them, but in the cumulative, it is easy to be skeptical.
Trent Baalke said the team was not going to be transparent in this process, and they have not. While that is perfectly reasonable for the team to not be transparent, it leaves a huge void that people are going to fill with their own inferences. And with football still seven months away, that's a lot of time without much rock solid information to work with in discussion.
On the other side of the debate, some people are viewed as homers for not being willing to jump down the throat of the front office for this process. For some, this is simply a matter of a wait and see process. The team has a lot of talent, and until they get on the field, we don't actually know how this will play out. Jim Tomsula is an incredibly popular coach, and has extensive experience working with some of these players. It is entirely possible this won't work out well, but until we see the team hit the football field, we can't really say anything with certainty.
One of the key arguments on this side is the faith that Trent Baalke has done enough to buy some credibility. If he is the one actually in charge of this whole process, he gets the benefit of the doubt for now with this chance to implement his vision. The counter is that the York family is in charge, so Baalke is inherently going to have to answer to them. That is true, but this side of the debate is viewing this in the hope that they are generally deferring to Baalke's decisions in implementing his football vision.
There is nothing wrong with healthy debate about whether or not this situation is going to work out, and what to make of the decisions that may or may not be happening. We don't know what exactly the plan is, but that does not mean we can debate what we think is going on. After all, the 49ers are leaving a void by their decision to have no transparency in the process.
However, I think it is important that we try and avoid the black and white "hater" and "homer" type labels. Someone supporting the decision-making does not need to be yelled at as a "Yorkist", just like someone who is unhappy with the process does not need to be declared a "hater". Using those labels only serves to make this more personal than it really needs to be.
Personally, I am skeptical about what I am perceiving in this process, but I also am prepared to wait and see what happens when the team hits the field in September. Once football gets here, we will finally start to get answers to all these questions we are currently debating. That does not mean we can't debate them in the meantime, but whether this team ends up in the Super Bowl or turns out to be an absolute train wreck, the fall will at least bring some answers. In the meantime, debate away, but remember to try not to make this too personal. We all love the team and want what's best for it. Maybe that is happening now, maybe it's not, but don't take it out on each other.