The San Francisco 49ers and head coach Chip Kelly head to South Florida this weekend to take on the Miami Dolphins, led by Adam Gase. The 49ers pursuit of a top pick, and the Dolphins current five-game win streak are the more notable aspects of this matchup, but the Gase storyline is still something to remember.
Gase and the Dolphins are playing some solid football over the past month. They struggled out of the gate 1-4, and naturally that had people saying Gase was a bust as a head coach. However, he stuck to his guns, and the team has now won five straight games. Ryan Tannehill has struggled for extended stretches, but he has come through late for Miami. In the team’s ugly last second 14-10 win over the Los Angeles Rams, Tannehill completed 12 of his final 13 passes for 115 yards. It has not been pretty, but the Dolphins are getting it done lately.
I spoke briefly with Kevin Nogle from The Phinsider to get a few thoughts on what to make of Gase thus far.
I think Gase is absolutely the right coach to finally turn around the Dolphins. He is great at making adjustments and putting players in the right position. He has done a great job in tailoring his offense to the Dolphins' strength - running behind the starting offensive line when it is healthy - rather than trying to stick to the passing game that was struggling as Ryan Tannehill was getting crushed each week. Gase still has work to do on being able to fully manage the game, and there are times where I wonder if being the head coach and play caller pulls him in two different directions, but he is doing and saying all the right things thus far.
If the Dolphins make the playoffs, or at least finish with a winning record, Gase will continue to get plenty of praise. And of course, there will be plenty of “what ifs” among 49ers fans.
Two years ago, the San Francisco 49ers “mutually parted ways” with Jim Harbaugh. Whether you want to say he was fired or stick with Jed York’s interpretation of events doesn’t really matter at this point. What does matter is events that transpired after Harbaugh departed.
The San Francisco 49ers launched a search for a new head coach that would get them back to Alex Boone’s mountaintop. The 49ers interviewed numerous candidates, but most fans and local pundits figured Jim Tomsula was all but certain to land the job. Tomsula was a loyal assistant, serving as defensive line coach for much of the past decade, and even getting a single game in as interim coach after Mike Singletary was fired in 2010.
The 49ers went through an extensive search, and at one point, it actually seemed like they were set to hire Adam Gase. There were reports of multiple interviews, including one on January 2, and another on January 13. The second interview was followed by reports Gase was going to get the job. Then just as suddenly, things broke off and the team announced Tomsula was the new head coach.
Back in February 2015, Tim Kawakami wrote extensively about what led to Gase not accepting or getting the head coaching job. There were reports that a deal was all but settled, and a source told Kawakami that Gase’s choices for coordinators had been approved. However, Kawakami reported Baalke returned to the Bay Area, and Gase was subsequently told he had to hire Tomsula to be his defensive coordinator. Gase did not agree to that, and everything fell apart from there.
Barring Jed York or Trent Baalke acknowledging what happened, we are never going to know for sure how this all played out. Given all the scuttlebutt with Gase, and Tomsula eventually getting the job, it is hard to not believe Kawakami’s report. But whatever the case, Gase moved on to join the Chicago Bears as offensive coordinator, and then was hired to be the Miami Dolphins head coach.
And now, Gase meets the team he might have almost been close to taking over following Jim Harbaugh. We’ll never know for sure, but we do know the 49ers organization is in a tailspin. I could see the Dolphins potentially having a letdown in this game, but I also could see Gase wanting to put the screws on the 49ers and run up the score a bit if the Dolphins can get the offense going.
If you want to follow the reports on Adam Gase, here is everything we wrote about him during the post-Harbaugh coach search process: