Why It’s Time For the 49ers to Admit Mistake and Cut Ties with Jim Tomsula


With six games remaining in the NFL season, it’s time for the San Francisco 49ers to face a fact that is already staring everybody else in the face, Jim Tomsula is not fit to be the head coach of an NFL team.

The 49ers are 3-7 and, in all likelihood, will be 3-8 by the time Sunday’s game with the Arizona Cardinals – who are deservedly regarded as one of the best teams in the league – has come to an end. And, although Tomsula has been dealt a rough hand with the talent San Francisco lost in the offseason, he has to shoulder the responsibility for a dismal campaign.

What is most mystifying about the change to Tomsula is not that the 49ers chose to part company with a coach as good as Jim Harbaugh. Instead it is the list of candidates the Niners passed over, who are enjoying varying degrees of success, which should raise eyebrows. Here’s the list of coaches interviewed by San Francisco, per ESPN.com’s Paul Gutierrez, before settling on Tomsula.

Dan Quinn – Hired as head coach by the Atlanta Falcons

Vic Fangio – Became the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears

Adam Gase – Appointed as the offensive coordinator of the Bears

Mike Shanahan – Not in the league

Josh McDaniels – Remained in New England as the offensive coordinator of the Patriots.

Rex Ryan – Hired to be the head coach of the Buffalo Bills

Teryl Austin – Still serving as the defensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions

Todd Bowles – Replaced Ryan as the head coach of the New York Jets

The one thing the majority of the coaches on this list have in common is that they are enjoying better seasons than Tomsula. Atlanta has fallen away since their 6-0 start but at 6-4, former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Quinn still has his team in the thick of the wildcard hunt.

Ryan and ex-Cardinals defensive coordinator Bowles can say the same with both the Bills and the Jets at 5-5, with the latter’s defense ranked at No. 5 in the league through Week 11 by Football Outsiders.

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Fangio, having managed a stellar defense in his four-year stint in San Francisco, is overseeing a defensive improvement in Chicago. The Bears have given up just six touchdowns in their last four games and produced a marvellous performance defensively in their 17-13 Thanksgiving win over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

On the offensive end Chicago was ranked No. 12 in the league by FO prior to the victory in Green Bay under Gase, who joined John Fox in moving across from Denver.

The frustrating aspect of Chicago’s resurgence is that, per Tim Kawakami of The San Jose Mercury News, the Niners were in serious talks with Gase, but he walked away from the discussions after San Francisco management insisted he make Tomsula his defensive coordinator.

Meanwhile, McDaniels – a former head coach with the Denver Broncos – continues to enjoy life as the offensive coordinator of the seemingly unstoppable Patriots and Austin’s Lions defense has kept the offenses of the Packers, Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles in check in recent weeks.

All of the other coaches San Francisco interviewed also had the benefit of being a coordinator or head coach in the NFL. Prior to his appointment, Tomsula did not have that experience, and it shows.

Indeed, anything that was expected to go well under Tomsula’s stewardship has not gone well. Many thought having a players’ coach in the locker room would be a positive aspect of his hiring, yet when Ahmad Brooks – per Eric Branch of The San Francisco Chronicle – is indicating the 49ers, having come off a bye, were not prepared ahead of their 29-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, it is clear the players are responding to their head coach.

Any hopes the 49ers would be more fun with Tomsula at the helm, they have been extinguished. Aside from the wins over the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens, and the last-second defeat to the New York Giants, the Niners have been a dismal watch.

Most brief moments of excitement have soon been replaced by crippling conservatism from Tomsula, who was bizarrely willing to settle for field goals when two scores down in Seattle last week.

The 49ers offense performed thanks mainly to the play of Blaine Gabbert, who has the keys at quarterback following the benching of Colin Kaepernick.

Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Kaepernick was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury last Saturday, ending a 2015 season for a player who was never placed in a position to win.

Upon his appointment, Tomsula – per Gutierrez – said he wanted Kaepernick to have fun playing football. That did not happen. Before his benching Kaepernick spent most of his time looking like a deer in the headlights behind a porous offensive line instead of being allowed to do damage with his arm and his legs.

Tomsula’s decision to start the equally bad Jordan Devey and Erik Pears at right guard and right tackle, and his subsequent call to rotate the former with the clearly superior Andrew Tiller, hamstrung Kaepernick and the running game, although Carlos Hyde’s foot injury has been another key reason why the rushing attack has been unable to get going in 2015.

On defense the 49ers have struggled on the road in comparison to their solid efforts at home and, while some may attribute that to a lack of experience following the losses of the likes of Patrick Willis and Justin Smith, it again speaks to an inability to correctly prepare the players.

Some of the blame has to fall on offensive and defensive coordinators Geep Chryst and Eric Mangini, and Tomsula is certainly not responsible for the apparent toxic atmosphere in the front office, which – combined with the drop-off in talent on the roster – has been the primary reason for the demise of the 49er organization.

However, Tomsula has to take the responsibility for the extremely sub-par product on the field. In all but four weeks of the season, teams have handled the 49ers and handled them with relative ease.

Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole recently reported Tomsula would keep his job if San Francisco remained competitive but, although the 49ers have only been embarrassed in a couple of games, they have found it difficult to compete on a regular basis.

"“If the team nosedives, and this is a team that has lost five out of six games by two touchdowns or more. If that trend starts again, and this team gets blown out in game after game in the second half of the season, starting with Seattle this weekend, and continuing with Arizona then Tomsula could be in very serious trouble.” – Jason Cole"

In the final shakeup, the Niners’ final record will not be a competitive one. Unless something drastic happens, the 49ers will continue to be outcoached and outplayed due to this coaching staff’s failure to harness the most of the young talent that is present on the roster.

Jed York and Trent Baalke will have hoped the 49ers’ players would respond to Tomsula’s player-friendly approach. That hasn’t happened and his lack of experience is dragging the team down. Parting with him now won’t do much to turn things around, but the front office has enough of a sample size to make the decision to let Tomsula go come the end of the season.