A little more than a year after Jed York and Jim Harbaugh engaged in the awkwardest hug in football history that didn’t include Roger Goodell at the NFL Draft, Jim Tomsula may be coaching his last game for the San Francisco 49ers. As a head coach, anyway.
Per a league source, G.M. Trent Baalke is expected to return. Coach Jim Tomsula is expected to be fired.
Confirming PFT report that Jim Tomsula likely out with #49ers
— Jason Cole (@JasonColeBR) January 3, 2016
But to be clear, no final decision has been made on Tomsula by #49ers
— Jason Cole (@JasonColeBR) January 3, 2016
The only truly surprising part about this is the prospect of Jed York’s decision to replace Harbaugh with Tomsula — a long-rumored move that seemed misguided while at the same time completely Yorkian in nature — will be looked upon as one of the grandest embarrassment’s of the family’s ownership tenure.
What’s not shocking whatsoever is the assumed return of Baalke. He outlasted Harbaugh. Does anyone think he can’t outlast Tomsula, especially when by all appearances he was more of an Adam Gase fan?
The 49ers can’t even say they’re behind the Browns on the NFL Laughingstock Power Rankings, because they lost to the Browns — handily, in fact. That could’ve been Tomsula’s undoing, because a loss to Johnny Manziel, followed by soon-to-be-fired Mike Pettine’s claim that the 49ers didn’t play all that hard, couldn’t have registered well with the Ohioans who own and profit greatly from the 49ers.
— The same Ohioans who are undoubtedly getting some flack from major sponsors about the team’s image. Like, I don’t know, Levi Strauss.
— The same Ohioans who expected Levi’s Stadium to be a huge hit, but are now faced with the reality that the season ticket-holders feel like they were duped and are letting the Yorks know in a big way.
— The same Ohioans who are subjected to the same boring football we’ve all watched since Tomsula took over.
— The same Ohioans who employ a GM who felt the need to coach specific players, which sends a message that Tomsula and his staff probably aren’t doing enough.
— The same Ohioans who were forced to sit through Tomsula’s nonsensical, rambling press conferences that included no highlights except for an audible fart that 49ers PR blamed on a reporter’s movement in a leather chair. (Uh, sure. If you believe that, you probably believe Tomsula wasn’t tattling on Harbaugh and secretly campaigning for his job.)
I wouldn’t say Tomsula’s exit is a done deal yet. Cole hedged his bet, and Mike Florio’s reporting isn’t exactly bulletproof.
And Ian Rapoport posted this today:
Niners coach Jim Tomsula: Just one season after parting ways with Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers organization is at a crossroads again. Word is no decision has been made on whether to retain Tomsula. The team’s performance as of late will be watched closely. Those in charge will meet on Monday to hear Tomsula’s plan for improvement and figure out what is in the best interest of the organization. But it is no sure thing Tomsula returns.
That’s not exactly fantastic news for Tomsula, but it would appear the door could be open just a crack … provided the 49ers win today and Tomsula wows the organization with his “plan for improvement.” This obviously sounds very unlikely, but Tomsula clearly has his ways to charm the Yorks.
Plus, Tim Ryan and Ted Robinson have been speaking as if Tomsula was backed into a corner of sorts by the roster he was given. They haven’t blamed Baalke explicitly; a more accurate depiction would be to say the retirements and free agency departures, along with the NFL’s natural cycle of rise-fall-rise, put the 49ers in a personnel pickle this season. Robinson hasn’t been quite so adamant in his defense of Tomsula as Ryan — he actually called for Vic Fangio to get serious consideration as Harbaugh’s replacement, then praised Fangio some more this season for what he’s done in Chicago. But Ryan has noted several times in radio interviews that the NFL is about players, not scheme. The 49ers analyst also proclaimed that Bill Belichick would only go 5-11 or 6-10 at best with this roster, and that’s partially because the 49ers would enjoy a more friendly whistle with Belichick at the helm.
Also, Denise Debartolo-York loves Tomsula and hates spending money.
If Florio ends up being correct, we’ll get inundated with lists of potential replacements including …
But I still see this as Eric Mangini’s job to lose.
- He’s already in the building and seems to have been working for this chance for several years.
- He comes from the Bill Parcells AND Belichick coaching trees.
- He said all the right things about “Coach Trent.”
Besides, which offensive coach with a brain and options would choose the 49ers, who aren’t offering personnel power and have a defense-first GM? As of right now, candidates would go into the interview process without knowing who — besides Blaine Gabbert — will play quarterback for the team in 2016. As of right now, the offensive line is a big weakness and the only skill position players with much promise are Torrey Smith (who had a disappointing 2015), Carlos Hyde (contact-loving running back who hasn’t shown an ability to stay healthy) and Blake Bell (unproven tight end who needs 19 yards today to surpass 200 for the season).
But money is the greatest concern, as always. If the 49ers do fire Tomsula, it’s because the Yorks were forced to admit a terrible mistake because everyone who paid for Levi’s demanded change, and “reassigning” Paraag Marathe wasn’t good enough. However, whatever pressure the Yorks face probably won’t force them to pull off another Harbaugh-like hire and overpay (in their minds) someone like Shaw, Payton or either Kelly, because they already have their stadium and all of those SBL checks. As for the assistants on that list of coaches, Baalke’s ability to lure a great offensive mind has to be a major question at this point.
Unless they have some secret plans for Trent Dilfer (I’m only halfway joking), the favorite has to be Mangini. I can already picture the pregame scene.
Mangini: “Hey Jim!”
Tomsula: (Takes off headset, looks at it quizzically)
Mangini: “Hey Jim, it’s me! Eric!”
Tomsula: “Hey Eric, sorry, I was just surprised to hear someone in my ear cushion. I was just checking to see if this thing still fits right before the kicker kicks the ball and the clock starts, OK? Usually it’s just Garth Brooks playing on this thing since you guys don’t want me to ‘pull a Jimbo’ with the play-calling.”
Mangini: “Yeah, we’ll have you listening to ‘Low Places’ at 1:25. Just wanted to tell you that Jed is on the field. You should go talk to him!”
Tomsula: “Why?” (sees Jed strolling toward him)
York: “Jim, I just want to tell you that, whatever happens, you’ll always have a spot at our dinner table.” (grabs Tomsula’s elbow with his left hand, brings Tomsula chest-to-chest, lightly pats Tomsula’s back with his right hand)
Tomsula: “Can I still be defensive line coach?”
York: “Of course you can.”
Tomsula: “Is anyone going to take away my friend?” (Pulls large dead rodent out of his his track jacket pocket)
York: “No, don’t worry. No one will take him away. I know how much rats mean to you.”