When Jim Tomsula was hired as the next head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, there were many fans and pundits who felt the move was more Jed York and GM Trent Baalke getting their puppet more than anything else. In fairness, given the way the coaching situation played out, it’s easy to see how someone can jump to that conclusion.
The 49ers held a clumsy and sometimes bizarre search, that saw names like Vic Fangio and Mike Shanahan connected to the opening, and then there was that strange last minute flirtation with Adam Gase. All of it made San Francisco seem like an organization without a clear cut idea of what direction they wanted to head in. This, in my opinion, put Tomsula in a bad spot initially.
But lets just say for argument’s sake, that York and Baalke had Tomsula pegged as their guy the whole time (which was previously rumored to be the case), and hired him almost immediately. Would those bashing the choice still feel the same way? Is it Tomsula’s fault his bosses looked disorganized?
What I’m getting at is this…Tomsula is a good football coach, and the players seem to love him. He could ultimately be a diamond in the rough, and may be just what the 49ers need after a tumultuous year.
For starters, Tomsula has had nothing but success since joining the Niners as their defensive line coach in 2007. Over the eight season in which Tomsula was in charge of the unit, the Niners rank fourth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (98.4), second in yards per attempt (3.72) and third in points allowed (19.4). In 2011, the defense set a record by not allowing a rushing touchdown in their first 14 games and only allowed three the entire season.
Need more proof? How about the individual results of the players under Tomsula’s guidance?
DE Justin Smith made five Pro Bowls and was selected to three All-Pro teams after joining the 49ers in 2008. He had never received either honor in the seven seasons prior to working with Tomsula.
Linemen like NT Aubrayo Franklin, NT Isaac Sopoaga and DE Ricky Jean-Francois made an impact with the 49ers, but were virtually invisible after leaving the team.
NT/DE Glenn Dorsey, who was the fifth overall pick in the 2008 draft, was seen as a disappointment during his five year stretch with the Kansas City Chiefs. He flourished as a nose tackle with the 49ers in 2013 before getting injured last season. Dorsey is still a big part of the team’s plans moving forward.
DE Demarcus Dobbs, NT Ian Williams and DE Tony Jerod-Eddie all went undrafted, but have gone on to be successful role players for San Francisco under Tomsula
Despite never even being a coordinator in the NFL, Tomsula did spend a year as head coach of the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe in 2006. He went 6-4 that season, before leaving his post to join the 49ers.
Tomsula also took over to coach the final game of the 2010 season after the 49ers fired Mike Singletary. Under his guidance, San Francisco played free and loose on their way to a dominating 38-7 win over the Arizona Cardinals. The defense forced three turnovers, sacked Arizona quarterbacks six times, and scored a touchdown.
Like any coach with limited experience, there could be a transition period for Tomsula, but the front office has taken steps to help alleviate that by giving him a deep, experienced coaching staff. Also, the players seem loyal enough to him that they won’t abandon ship if the season starts out rocky and it takes some time to settle the ship.
I look forward to fighting for Jim Tomsula,” said Vernon Davis. “Tomsula, just the energy that he provides during the games and having a relationship with him, I can tell that (for) players, he’s one of those coaches players wouldn’t mind playing for. Just his spirit. He’s a good guy and a terrific coach. He’ll allow you to go out and do whatever you can do. He’ll put each and every individual in place to perform at a high level.”
Smith had also made his support of Tomsula vocal, once telling reporters he was the best coach he’s ever had in the NFL. He also noted that it’s well known around the league how much knowledge Tomsula has.
Now, does any of this guarantee success? No. There are still many other factors to consider like health, how the new coaching staff will mesh, whether or not the offense can finally find it’s footing, etc. But despite what some want you to believe, the 49ers are not a sinking ship, and Tomsula won’t be in over his head. It could take some time, but Tomsula may ultimately be the right guy to lead the team into the future.