Jim Tomsula Loses His Team
Harbaugh sent out congratulations to all his former coaches who got new jobs, ignoring Tomsula, but it was Tomsula who started this by saying the 49ers turnaround came when Alex Smith gathered the players together and had workouts before the coaches were allowed to work with them in 2011. In other words, Harbaugh really did nothing to change the teamís direction.
The players know differently. They know what a difference Harbaugh made when he came, turning around a dismal program and getting them to at least the conference championship game his first three years, an unprecedented achievement.
And, despite the rumors planted during the season by the front office, the players loved him. That showed after the end of the last game when player after player came up and hugged him, and then, they gave him a Gatorade shower which is the ultimate display of affection for a coach. Silly? Of course. But athletes are not known for their sophistication.
So now, Tomsula has insulted a coach they loved and who brought them unparalleled success. The defensive linemen Tomsula coached may still love him but the rest of the team will have, at best, a show-me attitude when workouts start.
Tomsula has only one minor bit of experience as a head coach: He coached an NFL Europe team for the last 10 games of the leagueís last season. But that league was a competitive joke, in place only to give the NFL a chance to sell more merchandise. Marketing has always been what the NFL does best.
In my experience around NFL teams, 47 years and counting, there are two types of assistant coaches: (1) Those who are destined to be head coaches; and (2) Those who are excellent assistants but donít have the ability to move up. In the first class are two coordinators who worked under Jim Howell with the 1950s Giants Ė Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry. The latest example of the second kind is Dennis Allen, a good defensive coordinator who didnít have a clue as the Raiders coach.
These coaches, take note, were coordinators, though the term wasnít used in the Ď50s. Tomsula has been only a position coach. John Madden was asked if heíd ever heard of a defensive line coach who was promoted to head coach. He couldnít think of one. Of course, his NFL experience only goes back to 1967.
There are occasionally players who make it to the NFL because of their physical ability though they come up short in intelligence. Hello, there, JaMarcus Russell. But they usually flame out because you have to make many adjustments in the pro game, which is far more sophisticated than college.
And one thing players recognize is a phony. Probably the biggest reason Mike Nolan was ineffective as a head coach was the fact that the players realized he was more interested in projecting an image than in the actual coaching. He even took notes at practice so he would have talking points when reporters asked him about the practice.
Most of all, players know when a coach is kissing the rear of an owner or general manager and they donít like that because they know that, if the owner or GM doesnít like a player, the coach will throw him under the bus.
So, the defensive linemen may like Tomsula but the rest of the team will be very skeptical.
Iíve been asked how I think the Niners will do next season. I donít usually predict this far in advance but I feel confident in saying that there will be lean years ahead and that Tomsula probably wonít last beyond this season.
And, meanwhile, Harbaugh will be bringing Michigan back to national prominence.
What do YOU think? Let me know!
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