We've had plenty of discussion about the San Francisco 49ers coaching change, with opinions varying on what might come of the Jim Tomsula era. It is hard to make predictions given the drastic turnover, but that won't stop us from speculating!
One thing I occasionally is a discussion of Jim Tomsula in the context of Mike Singletary. Although Singletary was technically assistant head coach prior to his promotion, both were essentially elevated from position coach to head coach. We see Tomsula as a motivational type, and that has led to the occasional comparison with Singletary, as though that makes them similar coaches.
In reality, I'm of the impression that Jim Tomsula is better suited to take over a head coaching job. NFL Europe was not the NFL, but his work over there required learning a lot of the intricacies that come with running the show. We've heard nothing but positives from current and former players about his breadth of knowledge about football. Combine those two together, and you've got a guy who has a lot more going for him than some would have you believe.
This past week, a discussion developed on Twitter about Tomsula vs. Singletary. In a brief exchange with Kyle from Bay Area Sports Guy, he sent along this tweet:
@NinersNation he's probably smarter than Singletary, but you could also argue Singletary had a better team in 2010— Kyle McLorg (@Kyle_McLorgBASG) July 22, 2015
Mike Singletary's coaching career went down in flames in 2010, and fittingly enough, Jim Tomsula coached the team the final game of the regular season. I don't know how much that impacted Jed York and Trent Baalke's decision to promote him into the role this offseason, but it certainly did not hurt.
I decided to take a look back at the 49ers 2010 roster, and come up with a basic comparison with the 2015 roster. I pulled out what was essentially the starting lineup for 2010, and put together a rough look at the potential 2015 starting lineup. It's not my final projection for 2015, but just something with which to work for purposes of this discussion. I also added in a list of a few key reserves for each season. Again, this is not a complete list for 2015, but just something to provide some context.
In comparing the rosters, I would contend we can't consider how players performed after the fact. Alex Smith finally emerged in 2011 and 2012, but in 2010, he was losing his job at times to Troy Smith. It was the year of "We Want Carr!" and was a disaster on so many levels.
Crabtree and Morgan is a tale of what could have been. If Morgan did not get hurt in 2011, I think the 49ers probably beat the New York Giants, and have their first strong duo of receivers in some time. He might still have departed in free agency, but 2011 is a significant "what could have been" for the wide receivers. This year, the 49ers will have their best wide receiver duo in some time.
On defense, the 49ers current line could prove to be an improvement on 2010. Justin Smith is incomparable, but the combination of Dorsey, Williams and Dial could very well impress. It is too early to say anything for certain, particularly until we know those three roles, plus those belonging to Darnell Dockett and Tank Carradine. But I am at least moderately optimistic for now.
Looking at the rest of the defense is loaded with blasts from the past. In 2011, the team would make some significant changes to the lineup. McDonald would move into the lineup, with Sopoaga moving to nose tackle. Bowman would replace Spikes, while Brooks would move into the starting lineup, and Aldon Smith would take on a huge role. And the secondary would see significant change. Donte Whitner would move in at safety, with Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown taking over the two starting cornerback spots, and Chris Culliver getting extensive work in the nickel defense.
This year, the 49ers defense sees another huge turnover. Retirements and free agency departures will result in new starters at at least five defensive positions. And this is where it comes down to Jim Tomsula's coaching staff more than Jim Tomsula himself. There will be plenty for Tomsula to deal with, but 49ers success in 2015 might have to do more with the work of the coordinators on both sides of the ball. Tomsula will surely have his hand in the defense, but it is Eric Mangini's work that will likely prove vital. Bet you didn't think you'd be betting on Eric Mangini so soon?
|QB||Colin Kaepernick||Alex Smith||LDT||Glenn Dorsey||Isaac Sopoaga|
|RB||Carlos Hyde||Frank Gore||NT||Ian Williams||Aubrayo Franklin|
|FB||Bruce Miller||Moran Norris||RDT||Quinton Dial||Justin Smith|
|WR||Anquan Boldin||Michael Crabtree||ILB||NaVorro Bowman||Patrick Willis|
|WR||Torrey Smith||Josh Morgan||ILB||Michael Wilhoite||Takeo Spikes|
|TE||Vernon Davis||Vernon Davis||OLB||Aldon Smith||Parys Haralson|
|LT||Joe Staley||Joe Staley||OLB||Ahmad Brooks||Manny Lawson|
|LG||Alex Boone||Mike Iupati||CB||Tramaine Brock||Shawntae Spencer|
|C||Daniel Kilgore||David Baas||CB||Shareece Wright||Nate Clements|
|RG||Marcus Martin||Chilo Rachal||FS||Eric Reid||Dashon Goldson|
|RT||Erik Pears||Anthony Davis||SS||Antoine Bethea||Reggie Smith|
|K||Phil Dawson||Joe Nedney||P||Bradley Pinion||Andy Lee|
|Res||RB Reggie Bush||OT Barry Sims||Res||DB Jimmie Ward||SS Taylor Mays|
|TE Vance McDonald||QB Troy Smith||OLB Aaron Lynch||LB NaVorro Bowman|
|OG Brandon Thomas||TE Delanie Walker||OLB Eli Harold||DT Ray McDonald|
|OL Joe Looney||RB Brian Westbrook||DT Darnell Dockett|
|DT Tank Carradine|