There's a fine line between Raymond Babbitt and Bobby Boucher, and San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula, like most of us, probably falls somewhere in between. The man who first introduced himself to most of the 49ers Faithful in a bumbling, awkward and sweaty press conference has slowly improved his public speaking but really, after that performance, where else could you go but up? Now, over 12 weeks into the season, what do we really know about the fearless leader of the team from Santa Clara?
Tomsula is a player's coach, he is a people person. When he meets you, he gives you a firm handshake, and in his warm and jovial way tells you that he may not remember your name when he sees you the next time. He lumbers around the facility in his track suit like a veteran basketball player who has spent too much time on his feet. His open collar, and push broom mustache are the trademarks that have launched thousands of memes.
Tomsula commences every press conference with an injury report, which implies a transparency that was non-existent with the previous regime, but his seeming lack of knowledge about said injuries is almost laughable. When repeatedly asked about Carlos Hyde's foot injury, his response was a very vague "It's sore up in there." It's doubtful that Tomsula is actually that uninformed, but rather that he distributes information as he sees fit. If he deems the information necessary to share, he does so. If not, he pleads ignorance and goes on to other topics. It's a very effective method of avoidance. What more can reporters ask once he says "I'm not sure" or "I don't know."
Being the choice of the front office has its perks and disadvantages. Tomsula was hand picked by CEO Jed York and GM Trent Baalke as someone who would seemingly not contradict them as his predecessor had done. He has been portrayed as a puppet of the front office and what more can he do as he is shackled to their beliefs and choices in talent. Tomsula may want to make changes in the roster and lineup but he must also not bite the hand that feeds him. If he shuns the talent that Baalke has picked, he is sure to bruise his ego in the process. Baalke has drafted several "projects" that have yet to fully develop and the natural attrition of injuries that occur throughout the season have exposed those inadequacies. If Tomsula wanted to make sizable changes, we would likely never know. Would the front office ever let him do things his way?
Contrary to the popular opinion that Tomsula is not the brightest bulb on the tree, you don't keep your job for nearly 10 seasons with the same organization unless you have a good head on your shoulders. In over his head? Quite possibly, but he's also smart enough to know what he was getting into. Not having been a head coach or even a coordinator in the NFL before 2015, he knows that he is in uncharted territory. He has enlisted former HC Tony Sparano as his closest consultant in regards to game time decisions. Punting late in the 4th when down 16 points? That decision wasn't made without some input from other members on the coaching staff. Not that Tomsula would ever lay blame on another person, but it's obvious he is not making decisions alone. If that's not just a little bit of a safety net, I'm not sure what is.
He doesn't exude rocket scientist intelligence, but Jim Tomsula has carved out a role for himself in the 49ers organization that will mostly likely be around for at least another season. He knows who he needs to keep happy and does a very clever job of it. He strategically disseminates information as he sees fit and innocently enough creates a safeguard for his decisions while repeatedly saying "It starts and ends with me" after losses. It just might be the greatest fleecing of a fan base in the NFL.