Welcome back to another edition of the “Midweek Musings”. As I write this the Jim Tomsula era is only hours old, but the reactions are coming in the 100s as every minute passes by. Most of 49ers Nation is reeling right now. It isn’t because they are disappointed in the hiring (well maybe some of them are). It is because if the Niner Brass was going to hire from within, everyone thought that it was going to be long time Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio. By passing up Fangio with someone who was working underneath him, it heightens the likelihood that Fangio’s days with the Red and Gold are numbered. We’ll look at the “Winners”, and the “Losers” in this whole saga that was the 49ers Head Coaching search. I will also look into the theory that maybe this is what Jed York and Trent Baalke wanted to do all along, regardless of what the Broncos were willing to do with Adam Gase; but we’ll get to that at the end.
1. Jim Harbaugh
Even though the “Jim Harbaugh Era” didn’t attain the ultimate goal that it desired and sought after an adventurous 4 years, Jim Harbaugh exited his situation and landed on his feet like no one has since Nick Saban left the Dolphins. He will undoubtedly save the University of Michigan from the doldrums of where they now reside. He may even win a National Championship (after all Ohio State just won the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship Game this last Monday) in the next 3 years. In the end the only thing that took a hit was his professional coaching reputation (and some would argue that didn’t even take a hit given how his situation played out throughout the 2014 season). So in “Losing”, Jim Harbaugh came out of this situation a “Winner”.
2. Jim Tomsula
The now former 49ers Defensive Line coach is in set to be introduced as the next Head Coach in Franchise history. I know what a lot of people in the Niners Nation are thinking right now:
And I know that the Faithful have a lot of questions for the duo of Trent Baalke and Jed York
I am with you all in that, I didn’t think that this was the direction the 49ers were going to head in. Tomsula has a couple of things going for him though. The players love him and they will play for him. He may be able to convince Justin Smith to come back for one more year before heading off into retirement. He has been a part of the 49ers organization for the last 8 years as their D-Line coach so he knows the “49er way”. The thing that he doesn’t have going for him? He isn’t Vic Fangio (the fans choice), and his leapfrog move makes it unlikely that Fangio will be back as the Defensive Coordinator. Tomsula is looking to still be a winner this time next year, and not just a one year mistake on the unemployed coaches heap.
3. Adam Gase
Well, let’s see what has happened for one Adam Gase in the last 72 hours:
1) Broncos lose to the Colts 2) John Fox gets fired 3) Gase is rumored to be the next 49ers Head Coach 4) Gase talks with Elway to become Broncos new Head Coach 5) 49ers hire Jim Tomsula as their next Head Coach.
If Gase can get a 100% healthy Peyton Manning this up coming season, and if C.J. Anderson is the real deal in the RB position, Gase becomes the biggest winner on this list. Looks like it’s good to be the “Mastermind” of a Peyton Manning led offense.
4. Arizona Cardinals
It is rumored that if Vic Fangio does indeed leave his position as the Defensive Coordinator of the 49ers, he is heavily considering making a lateral move within the NFC West. Bruce Arians has been stumping on behave of Vic Fangio, “He has great knowledge of the game. I think he has a good rapport with his players. I think that’s the big thing. We’ve worked together a number of times. I have a lot of respect for him. I think he’d do a heck of a job.” The two have a relationship from being on the Colts staff from 1999-2001. If the Cardinals can replace their just departed DC with Fangio, the Arizona defense won’t miss a beat in 2015.
1. Vic Fangio
Whether, or not, Fangio leaves the 49ers it won’t be the same after today. Not between the 49ers and Fangio. It will be the same between him and his players, him and the “Faithful”. If Vic comes back he will have to live with the fact that his Defensive Line coach was picked over him for the Head Coaching gig. Fangio is an “NFL Lifer” so no doubt he has been passed over for other Head Coaching jobs, but this was one of the few (if not the only one) that Fangio has publicly stated that he wanted. Let’s see if Fangio swallows his pride and stays in San Francisco, if that happens then the Jim Tomsula Era will get off to a little less bumpy of a start.
2. 49ers Defensive Unit
There is a good chance that they are going to lose their Defensive Coordinator. Their Defensive Line coach is now their Head Coach so there is going to be a new coach there. Justin Smith could retire, that is still to be determined. They are getting older in some key positions, and Patrick Willis just went through Season ending surgery. There is a huge chance that the defense is about to take a step backwards in 2015. While I personally hope, as a diehard 49ers fan, that I am wrong……things may be trending down in 2015 for the 49ers defense.
3. Jed York and Trent Baalke
There were 3 (maybe 4) ways that Jed York could have come out on top during this whole saga:
1. Have a Jon Gruden, Mike Holmgren, Tony Dungy, Brian Billick, Bill Cowher, or Jimmy Johnson ready in the background as their Head Coach
As unlikely as this scenario is, this would have made the most sense of the situation unfolding. Why would you push out a young Head Coach who amassed 44 wins over 4 years while taking you to 3 NFC Championship Games, and 1 Super Bowl appearance? Well because they have a “Legend” waiting in the wings to take the 49ers to that “Next Level”. Interview the minimum amount of people through the proper processes and then BAM! Now you have your press conference and you’ve actually reloaded, like Baalke wanted to do. Instead they took 16 days interviewing a lot of “sexy names”, and then ultimately hired a man they didn’t even interview formally.
2. Hire Josh McDaniels from New England, Adam Gase from Denver, or stay in house with Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio
Either one of the two aforementioned young guys would have made a great choice since they were offensively inclined. They both also would have an opportunity to retain Vic Fangio as the DC. Or if you stayed in house EVERYONE (well mostly everyone anyway) expected the 49ers to promote Vic Fangio to Head Coach especially after his 6+ hour interview with the Brass. Instead they leapfrogged the Defensive Line coach over Fangio, and possibly alienated their Defensive Coordinator into leaving the Organization.
3. Hadn’t fired Jim Harbaugh and instead signed him to a 5 year extension, fired Greg Roman and then went out to hire Norv Turner as their new Offensive Coordinator
If we are going to talk about scenarios that won’t happen, I am allowed to imagine as crazy as I can. I really have nothing more to say about this scenario other than…
Instead they hired Jim Tomsula as their next Head Coach. In doing so they have made the 49ers Nation go off into a state of panic and despair.
which brings me to my last loser in this whole scenario….
4. The 49er Faithful
The Faithful are wondering, “What just happened?” Just 3 years ago a dynamic Jim Harbaugh came into town and saved the 49ers from the mediocrity that had been plaguing them for the last 10+ years. Just 2 years ago the 49ers were in the Super Bowl against the Ravens. They were 1 yard away from joining the 6 Super Bowl Title Club. They never got there, and then the next year lost in the NFC Championship Game against the eventual Champions, the Seattle Seahawks. This year through injuries and personal discontent the 49ers stumbled to a 7-9 record and missed out on the playoffs. That wasn’t the worst of it, all season there were rumors that Jim Harbaugh wouldn’t be back next season (even if he had won the Super Bowl). The fan base was shocked to hear such things. Harbaugh had turned around Alex Smith’s faltering career. He had made the 49ers perennial playoff contenders, and yearly Super Bowl favorites. No way one bad year would be enough to wipe away the previous 3 years of genius and bliss, right? Then the season ended. Harbaugh left for Michigan, and landed comfortably on his feet. Baalke and York sat there in front of the media and declared that they were “reloading, not rebuilding”, that they wanted their next Head Coach to be a “teacher”, that they were committed to winning and that they went into every year “expecting to win the Super Bowl”. These are all big words from a duo that needed to sound big that day in front of the media. They promised “7-10 days” (although they left themselves an out by saying that “they would take as long as necessary”) and the search would be over. Then York got grilled on KNBR in an interview by Brian Murphy. It was awkward, and awesome at the same time (awkward for York, awesome for the 49ers Faithful that couldn’t be Brian Murphy but wanted to be). Yet the Niners Nation had hope. They hoped that the duo had a real plan, a real “Plan B”. Something realistic and progressive. Something that was indeed a step forward. Then they hired Jim Tomsula. It wasn’t a step back (although people might argue otherwise), but it wasn’t a step forward either. It was a sort of lateral movement that would have made sense had they promoted Fangio, but Tomsula? Now we (the 49ers Nation) are left here to wonder what else is going to happen. What other dominoes will be falling now? Who’s going to run our Offense? What does the future hold for our Franchise if the last 4 years weren’t it? Only time will tell, and history shows that nothing is as predictable as it seems so we shall see I guess. It’s okay Faithful, it’ll be okay.
Final thoughts from the mind of a Madman
Jed York and Trent Baalke better know what the hell they are doing with this Tomsula promotion. If they don’t have any idea what they are doing then the Head Coaching search is going to look like a County Fair compared to what is coming down the road for the duo. If things fall the way they are falling they are in line to lose out on a Defensive Coordinator. They need a new Defensive Line coach because he’s their Head Coach now. They had already lost their assistant Secondary coach and their strength training coach to Michigan after Harbaugh left. The Free Agent coaches out there are dwindling fast and if the brain trust of York and Baalke don’t act fast they could be left holding the bag. I get this weird feeling that they didn’t really have a plan, and they were hoping that either McDaniels or Gase would be there Head Coach after their playoff runs were done. Then Gase played the “I may be staying in Denver” game, and McDaniels may be unavailable until after the Super Bowl, and by that time he may not want to leave New England. So I think in the end they panicked and instead of going with the obvious choice, they went with “their guy” and picked Jim Tomsula. If you think I am crazy that’s fine but think about this:
If they were going to promote Tomsula from the beginning they would have interviewed everyone that one time through and then just promoted Tomsula. Why did they take 16 days? Why were there reports, that Gase was about to be offered the position? Why didn’t they formally interview Tomsula?
All of these questions lead me to believe that they missed on one of their 2 guys and panicked. They didn’t want to be left holding the bag if McDaniels told them “no”. So they made a rash decision disguised as an informed decision.
I’m hoping that next year the “Us against the World” mentality will be enough to mask a lot of the deficiencies that the 49ers will be facing in 2015. Good Luck to Jim Tomsula, you’re fighting a battle you cannot possibly win….unless he wins Super Bowl 50, in Santa Clara. 😉
Thanks for reading. I will see you on Monday with my “Monday Heckle”. Cheers!