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Well, it is official. The Jim Tomsula era is over in San Francisco and if we are perfectly honest with ourselves, did we ever think it would make it much past this year anyway? At least this way, the 49ers do not have to fire him in the middle of next season, deal with a stopgap, and possibly miss a really good candidate this off-season.
While the rumor mill is likely to be in full effect over the next few weeks as we look to fill our coaching position, there are many names already floating to the surface, some are interesting, and some are not so much in my opinion.
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The Old Guard: The Two Mikes
Rumors have already surfaced that former 49ers assistant coaches Mike Holmgren and Mike Shanahan have expressed interest in a return to the 49ers. On paper, both of these guys make real sense from a historical and nostalgic standpoint. They both come from the Bill Walsh coaching tree in some form and what 49ers fan doesn't like that?
I have nothing against Mike Holmgren. However, I do worry about coaches that have been away from the game for an extended amount of time and I also worry about coaches that want personnel power. Unless your name is Bill Belichick, that tends to not work out so well. In general, it becomes a dumpster fire. That being said, every so often you will find a coach that can do both and it works. Is Holmgren that guy? It is really hard to tell since his last stop was a mess in Cleveland. Although, he had success in Seattle in the dual role. Of course, this is all a moot point since Baalke is not being relieved of his duties, so if this Mike gets the job, he will likely have to deal with the structure the York's have set up.
Mike Shanahan is a good choice from the standpoint of how his commitment to the ground game, as well as his blocking schemes that the 49ers have already implemented this year to some degree of success. The 49ers are set up to have a very strong running game, assuming Hyde can stay healthy and we can figure out what is going on with the offensive line. With new rumors that Anthony Davis is coming back next season, that is certainly a step in the right direction if it is true.
Both the Mikes would inherit a team with some talent, but with many holes. The offensive line is a mess and likely will be replacing Alex Boone this offseason as well as looking to repair the awful right side of the line. Defensively, the team does not feel far off as there is a young group of players that generally have played good despite the circumstances.
The Parcells Guy: Sean Payton
Baalke is a disciple of Bill Parcells, and while that is not a bad thing I still hold some Parcells resentment for ruining our shot at going for the three-peat in 1990, but that is a topic for another day. Sean Payton is the most intriguing person on this list because of his offensive mind. He has a championship resume and has done some great things in the Big Easy. The biggest question is what would be the cost to bring him in?
The 49ers currently have the seventh overall pick in the draft, and considering Drew Brees is not getting younger, it makes sense that New Orleans would love to get that pick to get a younger franchise quarterback. However, depending on how the 49ers are approaching the Colin Kaepernick situation, there is likely to be a few young quarterback choices the 49ers would like to bring in house with the seventh pick. Unless Payton is outright fired today or tomorrow, which may be unlikely, the Saints are going to want at least a 1st rounder and that price might be a bit much to pay this year. Unless Payton thinks that he can fix Colin Kaepernick, and that is the biggest mystery of them all.
The Outside Guys: Chip, Adam, and David
Chip Kelly has already expressed interest in the position and I can tell you that I for one am not a fan of that marriage at all. I will stand up in church and protest until he is out of town. I do not like the guy, I do not like his system, and I really do not like the fit with our team. However, if the 49ers are going to continue to have Colin Kaepernick on the team, then Kelly makes really good sense because if anyone can harness Kaepernick's skill set, it would be Chip. Frankly, I just do not like what he did in Philly and think that he will likely end up in Tennessee.
Adam Gase was the leader in the clubhouse last year, until the Baalke and York tried to stuff Tomsula down his throat as defensive coordinator, which ultimately led to Tomsula getting the nod. Gase is young and innovative on the offensive side of the ball. He has helped Jay Cutler settle down a little bit in Chicago. The biggest issue is would he even want to be interviewed again after the snub the 49ers laid on him last offseason? He clearly liked the team last year, so we can hope the love remains. I like him as a hire because I think this team is always better with an offensive minded coach. It is just in our blood.
David Shaw is the last of the outside guys that I think the 49ers will at least reach out to. He has done a great job at Stanford and looks poised to make the next step into the NFL. Anyone that has caught his coverage of the NFL draft the past few years has seen a guy that clearly has an eye for talent. This is a coach that could come in and take advantage of the 49ers personnel by running a system that fits our offensive line better. The big question is would Shaw want to follow Harbaugh's footsteps to the 49ers, given the ugly divorce that it was?
The Inside Guys: Who knows?
We have many former head coaches on our coaching staff and really the only one that makes sense is Eric Mangini. I do not like it, but it makes sense. It really would depend on the staff he could put together. Likely, there could be a lot of holdover, and I do not know if that is a good thing or not. Under this scenario, I would like to see Tom Rathman promoted to offensive coordinator. He has been a coach long enough in this league and I think would be an interesting choice.