The San Francisco 49ers have not even formally fired head coach Jim Tomsula (or at least, announced it), and already big names are being connected to the position. Jay Glazer reported the team would be looking to make a splash with a big name, and other NFL media have started supplying some of those names.
We heard about Mike Holmgren's interest last week, but now we can potentially add Sean Payton, Chip Kelly, and Mike Shanahan to the list. It is important to take all these leaks with a grain of salt. After all, agents for coaches want to boost the market for their clients, and the 49ers might want to just push some big names out there to calm down fans until they end up promoting Eric Mangini into the position and underwhelming everybody. The 49ers could very well hire a huge name, but until it actually happens, I think it's reasonable to be skeptical.
49ers thinking on Jim Tomsula began to change midweek with firing of Chip Kelly in Philly. Kelly under strong consideration in San Fran...— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 3, 2016
Among those who have reached out to express interest in a potential 49ers opening: Chip Kelly and Mike Shanahan. Others to come...— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) January 3, 2016
Payton has privately discussed his interest in the Chargers opening, and in the past, he's let it be known he'd be interested in the 49ers job, as well. If the Chargers retain Mike McCoy and the Niners let go of Jim Tomsula, that's one to watch.
Latest on Mike Holmgren:
Regarding Mike Holmgren's very real interest in #49ers. He's not interested in personnel control; money unlikely to be a huge issue.— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) January 3, 2016
I would not discount Mike Holmgren's interest in 49ers vacancy in the least. Could put a top staff together. He is a Bay Area legend— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 3, 2016
These are are not the only names that will be connected to the 49ers potential head coach search, but they obviously are the names with some significant buzz. Do they make sense though?
Sean Payton: He and Trent Baalke share the Bill Parcells connection. However, there is the belief that Payton would be looking for more personnel power at this next stop. That is speculation for now, but if that's the case, I'm not sure how you'd fit him in with Baalke and Tom Gamble.
Chip Kelly: Speaking of Gamble, he is the connection to Kelly. Gamble and Kelly are reportedly good friends, and Kelly is reportedly looking to focus on coaching and not the personnel side of things. If that's the case, this actually makes a lot of sense. However, 1) Kelly reportedly did not put up much of a fight when Gamble was fired by the Eagles, raising questions about how close their friendship is, 2) does Kelly really mean it when he says personnel power is not on his wish list?, and 3) Kelly is a pretty big personality, which did not exactly work well with Jim Harbaugh.
Mike Shanahan: He was connected during the coaching search last year, and obviously has extensive 49ers connections. He had significant personnel power in previous jobs, but maybe he would be fine just coaching under Baalke. I don't expect this one to happen, but it does make at least a little bit of sense.
Mike Holmgren: He's got even bigger 49ers connections than Shanahan, having grown up in the Bay Area. He has offensive background, and if he can stay out of personnel, maybe it could work. Whether the 49ers actually want to interview him is another question entirely.