The San Francisco 49ers announced the release of Aldon Smith on Friday, and the person who ended up facing the music with the media was head coach Jim Tomsula. CEO Jed York was in Canton, Ohio for Charles Haley's induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and general manager Trent Baalke was not available to the media. While those two have been viewed as the two guys in charge of this organization, it was Tomsula who stepped up and took care of business at Friday's media session.
Tomsula met with the media again on Saturday, and was asked about facing the media by himself on Friday. He stated right off the bat that he felt he did better in situations where it was just him, and nobody else and no prepared comments. He made a joke about people pointing out his shortcomings from the first press conference, and so he felt it was best done by himself. He also said that he felt it was his job to handle that kind of press conference.
Bruce Jenkins put together a column on the topic over at the San Francisco Chronicle, and it is a great read. Jenkins talked about how Tomsula's presence and what he said is something we rarely see among coaches in professional sports. Tomsula showed the kind of compassion that is not often seen in such situations. Whatever you think of Aldon Smith's numerous bad decisions, Tomsula's opening comments could be viewed as somewhat profound in the rough and tumble world of football:
"Usually, we are on the injury report, but I'll get to that in a second. I think you're all aware; the San Francisco 49ers released [LB] Aldon Smith today. It's a sad day. This is a day that doesn't have anything to do with football. Although he won't be playing football for the San Francisco 49ers, he will be supported and helped and he will not have to walk this path alone. That comes from our ownership down. He will not have to walk this path alone. We're not worried about football. It has nothing to do with football. The other thing I would like to say is there are people who, I understand the platform that we are on, I understand where this goes in the news. And what I would like to say is, if one person out there reads this, and you're struggling, get help. Go get it. You're worth it. You're worth it. There's value in every human being. Get the help. You don't have to walk alone. Find it, it's there. And although Aldon will not be playing football here, we will be supporting him. He will not be alone.
Jenkins made a good point about what we know about Jim Tomsula, and what we don't know. We don't know how he will perform as an NFL head coach when the action starts in September. He has made some notable changes in practice and meeting mechanics, but we don't really know how it will translate on Sundays. And any success the 49ers have this year will come from more than just what Jim Tomsula can do.
What we do know is that Jim Tomsula is a good man. Some might remain skeptical about any public figure, but what we saw on Friday was something you don't see too frequently in professional sports. You can read the words above, but I would also recommend watching video of the press conference.
The 49ers could still struggle mightily when regular season football gets started. Whether it be poor coaching, a questionable offensive line, or the attrition on the defensive side of the ball, there are plenty of questions facing this team. One thing we do know with some certainty is that the 49ers are coached by a good man. That will be forgotten for significant stretches, but it is still some kind of good thing.