“I would say this; we’ve got several years of Jimmy T’s salary left and we’re going to eat it. Whether he’s coaching somewhere else or not, we owe him that. That’s not a concern. I could have easily come out here and said, ‘Hey we had a lot of injuries this year. A lot of things didn’t go our way. We’re going to stick with this.’ That’s not where we are. We’re willing to spend what it takes to get everything right to get back to a championship culture.”
When Jed York wasn’t saying the word “uncle” seven times during his Jan. 4 press conference or reminding us that his skin is thinner than tissue paper, he was making grand statements like this.
Let’s push to the side the ridiculous notion that York needed to explain that they would pay out the rest of Jim Tomsula’s contract. (All NFL teams do this when they fire coaches, and the fact that the 49ers had to confirm they’d pay off the rest of his deal shows just how little credibility they have around here.)
The key here, since York also made it known that Trent Baalke and Paraag Marathe will have the same roles (so nothing has changed in the front office), is that they’re willing to spend. That brings us to the team’s search for a head coach.
Hue Jackson: No offer made by 49ers (and we don’t know the reasons why); signed with the Browns today
Dirk Koetter: Also a candidate to replace Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay; never a head coach in the NFL
Chip Kelly: Made approximately $7 million per season in Philadelphia
Tom Coughlin: Made approximately $7 million per season in New York
Mike Shanahan: Made approximately $7 million per season in Washington
Mike Shanahan strongly back in the mix with the 49ers. Looks like they are closing in on a decision per sources. #49ers
— Dianna Marie Russini (@diannaESPN) January 13, 2016
If they’re seriously considering Shanahan (or Coughlin, or Kelly), that means the 49ers are willing to spend $7 million per season. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be serious. They’d just be floating names out there to stay in the news cycle and show candidates that they aren’t desperately seeking one specific coach. And if they really want Shanahan, and don’t get him because they can’t agree on money, personnel power or the starting quarterback in 2016, there will be further delays and the realization that whoever the 49ers hire will be their fourth, fifth or sixth choice.
Reportedly the 49ers are nearing the end of their coaching search, which means offensive coordinators like Josh McDaniels and Darrell Bevell probably aren’t contenders. They paid Jimmy T a league-low salary a year ago … are they going to make a “big splash,” or are they even willing to outbid the Bucs for Koetter? Or will they hire someone like Bills assistant Anthony Lynn or Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, and pay them the same as Jimmy T or slightly more?
Coughlin probably isn’t a great choice for a rebuilding team that’s at least two years away from contention. Kelly’s team quit on him at the end of the 2015 season and he’s got some … how do I put this … questions about his personality. Shanahan has been a head coach for 20 seasons — his teams had seven playoff wins in 1997-98 and one playoff win over his other 17 seasons (in 2005).
In short, spending huge money on a head coach won’t guarantee success. But after talk of Sean Payton, then Jackson, along with the three high-profile names in the previous paragraph, hiring a lesser-known assistant at a lower price won’t quite mesh with York’s message that his family will turn over a new leaf next season and start spending like his uncle.