Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Be Careful What You Wish For

Be careful what you wish for. Trent Baalke won the power struggle with Jim Harbaugh but then discovered that most top coaches don't want to work for someone who isn't going to give them some control over the operation. Instead, they hired Jim Tomsula, who everyone in the 49er organization, including the players, apparently likes. But likability doesn't necessarily translate into wins. Almost everybody loved Mike Singletary, and most 49er fans wanted him to succeed (including me), but he turned out to be a terrible head coach. Owner Jed York reportedly said that it helps having everybody (i.e., York, Baalke, Tomsula) on the same page, that it helps that everyone is like-minded, but as I pointed out almost a year ago ("Why the 49ers Need to Keep Both Baalke and Harbaugh"), that often isn't the case. Tension, disagreements, and heated arguments often lead to better outcomes, not worse.

This is not to say that Tomsula will not succeed. In fact, I hope he does, and I won't be surprised if next season the Niners do better than they did this past season. But that will most likely have nothing to do with superior coaching. Instead, it will have more to do with the fact that in 2014 the Niners suffered numerous injuries and that in close games the breaks didn't go their way ("Regression to the Mean and the 49ers Next Head Coach").

I hope I'm wrong on this count. I really hope Tomsula turns out to be a genius, that he hires a great offensive coordinator, and that next year the Niners reach the Super Bowl (since it's going to be held at Levi's Stadium). I'm not holding my breath, however. The 49ers' most glaring weakness this past season was their offense, but the brain trust of York and Baalke decided to hire a defensive coach rather than an offensive one (they did this with plenty of great offensive minds willing and available -- Mike Shanahan, Mike Holmgren, Josh McDaniels), and now they are scrambling to find an offensive coordinator who wants to work for them (oh, that's right, for Tomsula...). What a surprise.

If I'm right that the Niners are in trouble, I'm torn as to what I'd like to see happen. I've been a fan for too long to root against them, but there's a part of me that can't help but wonder what would happen if the Niners fall flat on their face over the next couple of years. Would Jed York finally wake up, smell the coffee, and realize whom he really needs to get rid of (hint: Trent Baalke)? If so, a couple of years  of the Niners in the tank might be worth it in the long run.

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