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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Win With Class? The 49ers Can't Even Lose With Class

The 49ers fired Jim Tomsula only two hours after the Niners won their final game of finish the season with a losing record (5-11). An organization that claims to want to win with class can't even lose with class. Surely, they could've let Tomsula savor his final victory for one night. Maybe even two. What's worse is that they didn't even do it in person. Neither GM Baalke nor CEO York showed up for today's game, and York announced Tomsula's firing through a press release. York and Baalke are looking for a scapegoat, but most people know that Tomsula had little to do with the Niners' dismal season ("The Yorks Shouldn't Blame Jim Tomsula for the 49er's Terrible Season"). The blame for that lies with York and Baalke, who collectively believed they knew more about football than Jim Harbaugh, whom they fired last year and then watched several of their best players retire or bolt the team as a result (does anyone really believe that all of those departures would have occurred if they hadn't fired Harbaugh?).

That doesn't necessarily mean that Tomsula shouldn't have been fired. At times he appeared in over his head, and some of his strategic decisions were dumbfounding (e.g., electing to punt against the Rams rather than giving place kicker Phil Dawson a shot at winning the game in regulation -- the Niners escaped with a win only because the Rams botched an attempted field goal in overtime). Moreover, there is some evidence that York sought to undermine Harbaugh during the 2014 season, which may help explain Harbaugh's somewhat cryptic tweet shortly after Tomsula was fired ("Do not be deceived. You will reap what you sow."). Of course, that could've been directed at York and Baalke too. It may have been directed at all three.

Still, it is somewhat surprising that Jed York was willing to fire Tomsula. Tomsula has been a York family favorite for years. York reportedly wanted to hire Tomsula back in 2011. In fact, he named him interim head coach for the last game of 2010 after he fired head coach Mike Singletary with one game to go. However, because he needed to generate support for the construction of a new stadium, he hired Jim Harbaugh instead. However, once the stadium was built, York apparently believed he could fire Harbaugh, hire Tomsula, and the Niners would be fine. What a mistake that turned out to be.

The question is, who will be willing to become the head coach for an organization that is clearly dysfunctional? Adam Gase, Hue Jackson, Chip Kelly, Sean Payton, and David Shaw have all been mentioned as possible candidates. My favorite is Mike Holmgren. He would bring some class back to the Niners and may have the ability to out-politic Trent Baalke. In a future post I'll consider these possible candidates in more detail.

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