Jed York

49ers move to new stadium, spend less on coaches

Levi's Stadium debut 49ers Bears

Jim Harbaugh was making $5 million per year. Jim Tomsula will “earn approximately $3.5 million annually, making him one of the lowest-paid head coaches in the NFL, league sources told”

Harbaugh’s staff was reportedly one of the most expensive in the NFL, if not the most costly. That’s why the idea that they’ll add Lane Kiffin is probably even sillier than it sounds on the surface. Are the 49ers in a mood to pay market value for coaches anymore, let alone overpay?

We’ll see. For now, let’s take a look at how Joan in Payroll’s financial planning responsibilities will change with Mr. Tomsula’s new deal.

Tomsula received a four-year contract, the Sacramento Bee reported last week. His pay ranks ahead of only the original deals signed by Gus Bradley (Jacksonville) at $2.9 million a year, and Mike McCoy (San Diego) and Ron Rivera (Carolina), both at $3 million, according to a source. Rivera has since signed a contract extension.

We all knew this would be the case. Harbaugh had multiple suitors four years ago. Tomsula, like several NFL head coaches — including Jack Del Rio, who’ll make similar money with the Raiders — accepted the only offer he had a chance of receiving.

In 2011 the 49ers needed Harbaugh — or someone like him — to stop the losing and change the team’s overall reputation (or “culture,” if you’re a corporate weasel). Coaches’ salaries aren’t capped, and the 49ers quickly made everyone think they were a prime destination when Harbaugh accepted their offer. That wasn’t the case before he arrived, as the entire organization seemed awfully second-rate after years of losing and strange stories about infighting (Nolan vs. Alex, McCloughan’s mysterious disappearance, Singletary and Raye vs. dad-gum Yahoo).

Just for fun, let’s take a minute to remember the Singletary thing:

Now, Singletary has done it again. He was asked by Dennis O’Donnell of San Francisco’s CBS 5 about a recent article by Yahoo! Sports’ own Jason Cole which said that tension between offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye and certain players was mounting because Raye was, according to sources who spoke with Cole, having trouble getting the right plays to quarterback Alex Smith in time.

Problems with getting the play in on time, a 49ers tradition unlike any other! Now, let’s take you back to our regularly scheduled program: Taking The Ownership To Task, Vol. 43.

It’s not that the 49ers needed Harbaugh to build what become Levi’s Stadium (the politicians and voters in Santa Clara helped just as much as Harbs McKhakis). However, the Nolan-to-Singletary momentum wasn’t exactly sustainable and the natives (in San Francisco, Santa Clara and wherever else you might see Niners flags on cars) were getting restless.

Harbaugh, by all accounts, pushed for a name brand coaching staff and made sure his assistants were paid handsomely. At some point along the way, the 49ers decided they didn’t need a popular head coach. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict “Tomsula’s” staff won’t cost nearly as much as Harbaugh’s. We were already told that the staff would be “streamlined,” meaning Joan will be tasked with sending out fewer paychecks than in previous years.

What exactly are the fans seeing from this switch to Levi’s? The NFL salary cap ensures that teams can’t go the extra mile from a payroll perspective — like Eddie Debartolo’s teams famously did in the 1980s. They spent less on players than the San Francisco Giants last season, and the season before that.

So, who’s exactly benefitting?

The fans weren’t exactly glued to their seats throughout the stadium’s first season. The players may enjoy the new amenities (nicer locker room, training rooms, meeting rooms, etc.), but good luck finding a correlation between luxury and production. Football coaches couldn’t care less about fancy things, and the 49ers aren’t a team that rests its hopes on luring the top free agents.

The Yorks went from Steve Mariucci (Eddie’s hire) to Dennis Erickson (cheap — a college guy who wanted one more shot at the pros) to Mike Nolan (cheap — a coordinator who also served as the team’s GM until that idea proved disastrous) to Mike Singletary (cheap — no tangible experience besides looking and talking like a badass after a badass playing career) to Harbaugh (not cheap) to Tomsula (bottom-five-in-the-NFL cheap).

They may believe that Tomsula is the next great NFL coaching star, but Denise Debartolo York is pocketing a lot of money with this coaching change. And that’s where I’m hesitant to lay all of the blame for what’s gone on in the past year on Jed. It’s not his money. He may have control over how certain amounts of money get spent on various things, but it’s not his team. He may have stake in the game and a loud voice, but the final say on all decisions based on money? Highly unlikely.

Just like how Thursday’s events raised my concern over Tomsula’s preparatory skills, all I’ve seen over the past decade leads me to believe the Yorks are cheap, at least relative to their standing as a top-five revenue generator. There’s also the question of reputation.

The 49ers went from paying a flawed-yet-extremely-successful head coach market rate money and paying his assistants generously … to embarking on a clumsy public breakup with said head coach, firing most of those assistants, and replacing that flawed-yet-extremely-successful head coach with an inexpensive coach no one else interviewed during this offseason. All after selling thousands of stadium builder’s licenses. As Marty Lurie might say: Hey, that’s business.

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