How Else Did The 49ers Screw Up Their Coaching Search?

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Nothing about this Niners offseason, from the inevitable Jim Harbaugh divorce to the awkward promotion of Jim Tomsula, has been easy or painless. The coaching staff was assembled of cast-offs and no-names, and the team was accused of doing everything on the cheap now that it's got that new stadium. Now comes another report that portrays the 49ers' front office as an unorganized, dysfunctional mess.

The San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami, who's really in his element now that CEO Jed York and GM Trent Baalke have lost most fans' benefit of the doubt, has a report on the process that led to Tomsula being bumped up from defensive line coach to head coach. Kawakami's source claims that the Niners were close to hiring Broncos OC Adam Gase, but he could not abide by their condition that he keep and promote Tomsula. A condition, apparently, that they didn't spring on him until after they basically had a handshake deal.

According to an NFL source, Gase and Baalke did indeed come very close to an agreement for Gase to replace Harbaugh, down to the details of his prospective coaching staff, and Gase understood that his choices for the coordinator spots were approved.

Tomsula's name was not involved in the discussions with Gase about the defensive coordinator slot, I was told.

Then, the next morning, after Baalke flew back to the Bay Area, things changed: Gase, the source says, was informed that he could only have the job if he made Tomsula his defensive coordinator.

No Tomsula, no offer.

Gase turned that suggestion down flat, and that's when the 49ers immediately tabbed Tomsula as the head coach to follow Harbaugh.


Gase was certainly the bigger, sexier name of the two, and was more in-demand around the league. So what did the 49ers do after Gase balked at having Tomsula as his DC, and they hired Tomsula to be head coach instead? They asked Gase to be offensive coordinator under Tomsula. He declined, naturally. (Gase instead followed John Fox to Chicago.)

I'm loath to call any hire a mistake, since no one knows how Tomsula's tenure will work out or how Gase's might have. But if it went down as Kawakami reported it, this was Mickey-Mouse stuff. The Niners had one of the hottest young coaching candidates ready to sign, then tried to undercut him by forcing their chosen company man upon him. Then they still tried to bring Gase on, in a role that would have undercut Tomsula. Neither of these could possibly have worked well. So, rather than this latest story only being about the Niners failing to get their first choice coach, just think of it as another symptom of a place where this sort of thing is allowed to go down. That's a bad, bad sign.


(Another bad sign? Kawakami's column isn't even about any of this; the Gase stuff is thrown in at the end. It's about how the Niners fired Harbaugh, and are now inexplicably lying through their teeth about it being a "mutual parting." What a mess.)

[Mercury News]