There’s nothing wrong with promoting from within the organization, but choosing Jim Tomsula, formerly the defensive line coach for the San Francisco 49ers, feels like a huge step down for the franchise after getting rid of its most successful coach in over 20 years.
Tomsula has been the defensive line coach for the 49ers since 2007. He’s well respected by his players and within the organization, but it’s rare to see someone getting the head coaching job without any experience in both pro and college ball either as a head coach or even a coordinator. Vic Fangio, the team’s defensive coordinator (maybe not for a whole lot longer), seemed to be the favorite to win the part, but Jed York and Trent Baalke continue to be full of surprises.
Well, Tomsula does have some experience: He was the interim coach for the Niners in 2010 for one game, and has a 1-0 record, so he has that going for him. He also coached the Rhein Fire in Europe, leading them to win the World Bowl in 2006. He is quite popular with a lot of the players and the Niners have been the second best team in stopping the run during his time as the DL coach in the NFL, trailing only the Ravens.
So why Tomsula, despite interviewing Fangio, now-Bills coach Rex Ryan, Mike Shanahan, Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and now-Jets coach Todd Bowles? We don’t have to dig too deep. Just need to remember why Harbaugh, despite all of his success, eventually left to sign with Michigan.
Harbaugh was let go for personal reasons, nothing professional. Tomsula is probably a lot more comfortable to work with, and he’s not a Harbaugh hiring. This means an easier life for the general manager and a lot less power struggles behind the scenes that eventually had an effect on how the team performed, leading to missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
There isn’t a lot of faith from the fan base in the ownership. Not just for letting personal grievances with Harbaugh get in the way of success, but also for the decision to move the team to Santa Clara instead of renovating their previous stadium, while also letting someone like Ray McDonald stay on the team for almost an entire season while all of the league was going in the opposite direction in terms of handling these legal issues.
So is their Tomsula choice a bust right from the start? That’s not fair to say, because he does deserve to be given a chance. But the track record of this management and ownership group was unimpressive until Harbaugh came along, and they managed to sour that good thing as well. It doesn’t bode very well for this new era that’s about to begin.