Over at the SB Nation mothership, I was asked to write a post taking a look at which NFL coaches could be on the hot seat heading into the coming season. This is something I've been doing for the site for a few years now, but the San Francisco 49ers haven't appeared on that list because Jim Harbaugh was, in my mind, safe. But it seems like coaches can be ousted for things other than their record, and the 49ers have a new head coach in Jim Tomsula.
The post I wrote is not yet live so I cannot link it, but I did include most of the guys you'd expect to see on that list. St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley and New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin are all on the list, among others. When I got to around 1,400 words and several coaches, I was ready to turn the post in.
But I decided one more addition should be made: Tomsula.
Now, this isn't some huge declaration as to Tomsula's abilities as a coach or the ownership's confidence in his abilities. It's not even a statement as to the quality of San Francisco's roster. But at this point, the 49ers are a huge wild card to me and I have no idea how things will shake up. If Harbaugh can lose his job in the way he lost it after the success he had over his first three seasons .. anything can happen.
The 49ers are a finicky team at this point. The whims of Jed York are impossible to calculate but I do know one thing: York declared that the new 49ers' head coach would be expected to win a Super Bowl immediately, otherwise things would need to be evaluated. That's a massive declaration and a ton of pressure for Tomsula, but more than that, it's definitive.
No, that doesn't bind the 49ers to firing Tomsula if he doesn't have a successful season, but it reveals a bit of the ... unreasonable quality we've observed in York over the course of last season and this offseason.
On top of all of that, we have all of the leaks from last year, the accusations that Tomsula was always gunning for Harbaugh's job and was himself a rat for the owners and all of the other things that were rumored, reported or simply suggested. We have players who either did or did not like Harbaugh, and I'm sure a few of the veterans didn't feel great about the way things went down either.
I'm not going to claim I have intimate knowledge of what exactly went down, but there was some highly questionable [site decorum] at the very least, however unliked Harbaugh may have been. Then we come to the head coaching search, in which it was reported that Adam Gase was offered the job, given the all-clear on his coordinators, and then told he had to make Tomsula his defensive coordinator or there was no deal.
Did that happen? I believe it did, at the very least. While that might demonstrate a commitment to Tomsula, it could also simply symbolize a desire to do right by him. If the 49ers' 2015-16 season is a total unmitigated disaster, and if part of that is bad blood following Harbaugh's ousting, the only correct move would be to remove him, if you're the ownership.
Most first-year head coaches aren't on the hot seat. It might not even be correct to suggest that Tomsula is on it either. But it sure is a weird, unpredictable situation.