What Off-Season Coaching Hire was the Worst?
After finally parting ways with Jim Harbaugh after a tumultuous season, the San Francisco 49ers could have had their pick of any other high profile coach or assistant coach in the NFL. After interviewing the likes of Rex Ryan and taking a look at Adam Gase and kicking the tires on other potential candidates in the league’s hiring pool, the team decided it was best to remain in-house and promote Jim Tomsula to the head coaching position.
For months, the 49ers appeared to be held hostage by the struggle and conflict between Harbaugh, who took the 49ers to three straight conference title games before a gaff this past season, and team general manager Trent Baalke. The move was mutual as the 49ers decided it was time to move on up in its pursuit of a Super Bowl title.
Tomsula, a highly respected offensive line coach in the NFL and with the organization, appears to be the safe pick for a team that had to deal with an intensity and control of Harbaugh since he came to the team form San Francisco. Now, with a clean slate and a bit of fresh air in the bay area, was the move the best it could have been? Would Rex Ryan, who is now in Buffalo, or Case, who followed John Fox to Chicago, have been a better move?
An article on SI.com ranks the hiring of Tomsula as the worst of the offseason, giving the 49ers a “D+” as an organization for the move. The team must deal with Colin Kaepernick’s issues behind center, where he took a step back, look to make sure the defense rededicates itself and also find a way to get back to playoff football and overtake the likes of Seattle, Arizona and a soon-to-be better St. Louis.
It could be argued the 49ers were the fourth best team in the NFC West last season.
One of the most obvious reasons that 49ers GM Trent Baalke and the organization's front office went this route can be found in this quote from OT Joe Staley: "I really honestly don’t think we need a full overhaul," Staley said. "I don’t think we need to make drastic changes. There are things we need to change as far as mentality, accountability, different things like that. But as far as an overall scheme and huge change, blowing up the place, that doesn’t need to happen. We’ve got the talent and the guys in the locker room to get it done."
If the changes were not to be drastic, then why did the 49ers fall apart and can Tomsula, who is not as rigid as Harbaugh in his approach to the game, correct these small issues to make the team better?
The story goes on to say that, “If nothing else, Tomsula maintains that level of familiarity. He even served as interim head coach in 2010, bridging the gap from the Mike Singletary regime to Harbaugh.
“However, that is Tomsula's only experience at a level above positional coach in the NFL, with his only prior head-coaching stint coming in 2006 for the Rhein Fire of the now-defunct World League of American Football.”
I’m not sure a team with as much history as the 49ers want to hang their hat on that and if the team did make the wrong choice, how long will Baalke wait to pull the trigger on change?
Those answers cannot be given until the start of the 2015 season. But until then, the waters are calm in the San Francisco Bay. Will they remain that way, or does the waters get a little more choppy as the season moves along?