I spent most of yesterday wondering how we'd feel about the San Francisco 49ers' offseason if everything was the same except for the Jim Harbaugh drama. I'm not saying "what if Harbaugh never left," I'm saying "what if Harbaugh left, it was actually amicable, and Jim Tomsula took over?"
We've heard rumblings that Tomsula was on his way to being an NFL head coach in the past, and we all knew that he's been a long-time favorite of this organization. What if Harbaugh desperately wanted to go to Michigan, the 49ers let him out of his contract and we didn't have any of the ridiculous drama surrounding Jed York, Trent Baalke, Harbaugh, Tomsula and all of the involved assistant coaches.
I think, at the end of the day, people would be a lot more confident in Tomsula as a head coach. I know how he was received on this site prior to all of this and while there are plenty of people who will pretend that they always disliked the guy or they always thought he doesn't have what it takes, I know better than to take those people seriously.
The indisputable fact was that he was well-liked around here, and a future in which Tomsula was a leader of men for the San Francisco 49ers was not generally considered a bleak one.
The rest of the coaching staff, admittedly, doesn't seem to inspire a whole lot of confidence. But I do have to wonder how people would have felt about Geep Chryst if, again, it was a more smooth transition. I personally am inconsolable when it comes to Eric Mangini so I will not attempt to argue a point I myself don't occasionally believe in, but if somebody else feels strongly, go ahead and carry that torch.
Obviously, the Harbaugh to Tomsula transition is most important here, and we've already addressed that. The whole issue wasn't that transition, but the way it happened. We can't trust York, who really just needs to go away for awhile and Baalke, a man who was basically idolized on here, is nothing more than York's partner in crime. We've got what appears to be a coaching staff of "yes men," and that's coloring many of the opinions about San Francisco's offseason as a whole.
That's justified, but at the end of the day, what the 49ers roster look like should count for an awful lot and according to everybody with a mouth, the ability to speak, a keyboard and the ability to type or some other form of communication and the ability to use it -- it's been an unmitigated disaster.
But has it?
We have the departure of Frank Gore, Chris Culliver and Mike Iupati, the potential departures of Michael Crabtree and Perrish Cox, the retirement of Patrick Willis and the potential retirement of Justin Smith. But anybody who won't admit that every single one of those things, sans the Willis retirement, weren't at least partly expected is nothing more than delusional.
Granted, the cornerback position is a concern the 49ers need to address. There are no arguments there. But the 49ers have four players potentially battling for the left guard and center spots and I'm pretty confident in at least two of those players. They like Carlos Hyde a lot and are working at getting another running back to join him and Kendall Hunter in the backfield. Torrey Smith is much, much better than Crabtree, a receiver whose skillset has always lent itself to an aging veteran moreso than a young first-round pick.
With Smith, they've got Darnell Dockett, and guys like Glenn Dorsey, Ian Williams and Tank Carradine to hopefully provide a strong defensive line. They still likely need one more starter there, but show me a team in this league without a hole and I'll show you yet another delusional fan.
Which brings us to Willis. As shocking as it was, and as terrible as it makes me feel as a fan who pours his heart into this team, the 49ers are better-prepared for his sudden departure than they could have dreamed. The 49ers already had an embarrassment of riches at the position with both Willis and NaVorro Bowman, and then both Michael Wilhoite and Chris Borland showed they are above-average starters at worst when both Willis and Bowman went down with an injury.
San Francisco has promising young players at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, along the offensive line, at outside and inside linebacker spots, at safety and even at cornerback. There are some question marks at cornerback and defensive line, and the tight end position could go either way.
I can't rightly tell anybody here that they should calm down and wait to see what the product looks like on the field. I cannot even imagine telling you guys to take a chill pill after the way the man in charge of these team conducted the last 12 months.
But I can most certainly tell you that, if some of the more intangible things hadn't happened this offseason, and if a handful of conversations went in a different direction, we'd all be sitting here having the same stupid arguments as every other fan of every other team has when their team isn't signing the biggest and best free agents. Sure, we'd be a little more nervous with the coaching changes and the tough NFC West, and we'd be a little more shaken than normal with guys like Gore and Willis leaving. But we'd be fine.
And we might be yet.