(KPIX 5) – A couple of years ago I was on the sidelines of a 49ers practice attempting to memorize the roster for an upcoming pre-season football game.
It wasn’t long before my attention was diverted by a defensive line coach breathing fire into his defensive line during a drill with tackle dummies. Jim Tomsula’s booming voice could be heard from every corner of the practice facility.
Forget HBO’s Hard Knocks. Just strap a mike onto Tomsula and let him go. Even the tackle dummies were laughing. This was so good that I recommended to the game producer that we mike Tomsula during the wretched second half of the final pre-season game. I mean, who would you rather watch in the dog days of August, Tomsula’s fire and brimstone or Jewel Hampton carry for three yards and clump of sod? Unfortunately, the 49ers PR staff shot us down.
Jed York didn’t shoot down Tomsula. Just when everyone though Adam Gase was the new face, Jed York calls an audible. While players almost unanimously supported the hire, the 49er Faithful wondered, “Who?”
If you followed the inner workings of the demise of Jim Harbaugh, those who follow the 49ers closely speculated that Tomsula was the odds-on-favorite to get the job. He was reportedly working behind the scenes to get the gig.
But was Tomsula the best man for the job?
Wasn’t defensive coordinator Vic Fangio the man most responsible for the defense? Why didn’t he get the job? If the primary problem with the 49ers was offense, why did a defensive line coach get the head coaching job? With a team still primed for a deep post-season run, wouldn’t a more seasoned head coach have been a wise choice?
Jed York’s words were clearly a shot across the bow at his former coach. Said York via statement, “Jim Tomsula clearly is the right man to lead this team. Jim is a great teacher and a tremendous mentor who conducts himself with great class and integrity.” There’s that class and integrity narrative again.
York’s pick is being met with skepticism because Tomsula is an unknown. He has no head coaching track record. He’s an easy target to criticize when you simply make the comparison, “Tomsula for Harbaugh, really?” But, in the words of the former coach, that’s low-hanging fruit.
I don’t know if Jim Tomsula can be a winning head coach. Neither do you. Neither does anyone. But here’s what we do know. Tomsula inherits a pretty damn good football team. Patrick Willis will be back along with NaVorro Bowman, Chris Borland, Tremaine Brock and Chris Borland. And if Aldon Smith doesn’t get in trouble, he’ll be ready go on Week 1. The defense will be Super Bowl material.
The key to the 2015 49ers might not be Jim Tomsula. It might be whoever is named the offensive coordinator. The 49ers ranked 25th in scoring last year with an offense that had about as much identity as a stool pigeon in the Witness Protection Program.
And you don’t have Greg Roman to kick around anymore. Colin Kaepernick has to improve and Trent Baalke has to find a receiver that can stretch the field.
The grading of a new head coach is similar to a draft pick, the truth will come in time. Until then, I just hope that Jim Tomsula approaches the press conferences with the same vigor as his practice.
See you on TV.
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