Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Why the 49ers should fire Jim Tomsula after just one season

Al Sacco
Dec 1, 2015 at 9:48 AM51

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You could make the argument that Jim Tomsula was dealt a losing hand. After all, the San Francisco 49ers had one of the most disastrous and bizarre offseasons in the history of the NFL, and not many coaches could succeed with that kind of roster turnover. Okay...I guess that's valid. The thing is, the cupboard wasn't exactly bare. There were still good players on this team, as well as young and promising ones. While the talent level wasn't anywhere near what it had been in recent years, the expectation of being competitive was still front and center, although not necessarily at a playoff caliber level. You can win five or six games and still be trending in the right direction. The issue is, the 49ers aren't.

Thus far, through 11 games, the negatives have far and away outweighed the positives, and much of it falls on Tomsula and a coaching staff that appears to be filled with has beens and never will be's. Sure, the general manager and owner should take most of the blame for putting the organization in this position to begin with, but for now let's just concentrate on what's happening on the field.

The 49ers' record currently sits at 3-8 and they are in every way a 3-8 football team. To start, they're absolutely abysmal on the road. In five games (all losses), the Niners have been outscored 176-71. As bad as that is, the point differential doesn't even tell the whole story. You see, the 49ers have gotten their doors completely blown off from the get go in all but one game (at the Giants in Week 5), and have found themselves in halftime deficits of 29-3, 31-7, 13-6, 20-6, and 20-7. That's not good, especially when you're defense is giving up 464 yards and 35 points per game. Ouch.

As bad as things have been on the road, Tomsula's bunch has shown some promise at home, currently boasting a 3-3 record. The defense is still giving up yardage (342 per game), but is keeping opponents off the scoreboard and not allowing more than 20 points in any game. The issue is, the offense still stinks. The 49ers are averaging a mere 13.5 points per game at home, versus 14.2 on the road. Pretty terrible, no matter what state they happen to be in. Part of the problem on the offensive side of the ball is how slowly they tend to start. San Francisco is yet to score a first quarter touchdown this season.

The results listed above are mostly the product of poor game planning, scheme and well...just plain bad coaching.

Given how inept the overall staff is, it shouldn't come as a surprise that they were unable to further develop Colin Kaepernick. Actually, they helped make him worse. Look, I am not a Kaepernick guy. I just don't think he's very good and doesn't have what it takes upstairs to play the quarterback position in the NFL. Still, you can't ignore the fact that he has extraordinary physical tools and he can make some plays if you center your offense around what he can do (running, throwing on the move, etc). Good coaches coach to their players strengths, but the 49ers didn't do that. Overall, they probably stayed with him as the starter a game or two too long on top of it.

The whole Kaepernick scenario is puzzling to me though, and here's why:

If you don't have a quarterback in this league you're in trouble. Going into this season, if Kaepernick didn't work out, the 49ers had an issue at the position moving forward. The one thing they HAD to do this season was develop their quarterback. The guys they entrusted to do it? Career defensive line coach Tomusla, Geep Cryst, and Steve Logan. Not exactly Bill Walsh and Mike Holmgren.

Anyway, Tomsula has also been too slow to pull the plug on what isn't working in other areas. Case and point: the offensive line. I understand injuries and retirements put them in a bind, but to stick with a combination that just wasn't working for so long made no sense. Let's look at the Jordan Devey situation. Devey, a career backup at right guard, was acquired a few weeks before the season started for a sixth string tight end. He was named the starter shortly there after. Not surprisingly, Devey has graded out as one of the worst guards in the league with a -16.1 rating over 397 snaps (according to Pro Football Focus) . Despite the fact that his play was clearly hurting the team from the word go, Tomsula was reluctant to make a change. Eventually, Andrew Tiller was given more playing time, but Tomsula insisted on him splitting snaps with Devey instead of just pulling the plug. Tiller was eventually given the starting nod, and has responded with a +2.5 rating over 288 snaps. But again, why not make a change sooner? Devey wasn't exactly a proven player.

Tomsula's slow approach to making changes shouldn't come as a surprise though, given the fact that his careful nature also comes through in his actual coaching. It almost seems he approaches games as if he's scared, trying to keep it close enough not to get blown out. Even with the playoffs not being a remote possibility, Tomsula is still reluctant to go for it on fourth down or push the envelope to try and get big plays. He seems content prodding along and taking what other teams are giving him.

Jed York said he wanted a teacher when he was looking for someone to replace Jim Harbaugh. What exactly is Tomsula teaching? The defense to be wildly inconsistent and terrible away from home? The offense to be conservative and inept? Even with the unit moving the ball more consistently with Blaine Gabbert under center, they have still only managed 43 points the last three games.

The long and the short of it is, if the 49ers really care about their future, they have to fire Tomsula after this season. He's not the answer and he never will be. Giving him another year to go 5-11 will only stunt to development of the franchise. What are they going to do, draft Jared Goff and leave him in the hands of this staff? Even worse, they could hire a new offensive coordinator for next year, and then fire him too when Tomsula's finally given the boot, further stunting the development of players.

The truth is the answer to the team's coaching issues were probably right in front of them when they could have had the combination of Adam Gase as their head man and Vic Fangio staying as defense coordinator. But York tried to push Tomsula down Gase's throat and he resisted. Now you have the position coach no one wanted as a coordinator running your whole team.

Moving forward, there are strong candidates that will be available this upcoming offseason. Gase (although that ship has probably sailed), New England Patriot's offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Stanford's David Shaw, or even the New Orleans Saints probably soon to be ex-head coach Sean Payton. Any of them would be excellent choices that would infuse some life back into the team. The thing is, would any of these guys (all of whom will probably have options) want to work for someone like York?
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Marty
    Only the 49ers would leave themselves with Kaepernick as their only option at QB. Gabbert is a surprise. But he is a back up at best. Hyde ended the season injured in 2014. Why would you pick up an old RB like Bush as your only option. I do not fore see any changes in the near future. If the 49ers are lucky it will be 8&8. Of coarse Jed will talk about SB or bust. And the one thing the media should look at is the division. 49ers are 0 & 5. With Pete Carrol & Bruce Arians in the West & Tomsula as the HC you can the 49ers in serious trouble. 49ers can kiss off winning games in the West.
    Dec 9, 2015 at 10:59 AM
  • Frank M
    Give Tomsula a comparable roster to Harbaugh's and then you have a reasonable case for an argument either way. 'Til then, you're doing nothing but shooting arrows at him. For those who think losing to gain draft spots is ok, I'd say this...players and coaches do what they do to win. That's the name of the game. That's why they're in that business. You're not a true fan if you think they should tank the season for the draft. Disgusting.
    Dec 9, 2015 at 8:05 AM
  • Lucky Phil
    Hear that? Thats the sound of Vic Fangio's s#$t hitting his pants.
    Dec 6, 2015 at 2:08 PM
  • Jed Cork
    The smart teams lose meaningless games. The dumb teams win meaningless games. We have found a winning formula here in SF. This what I'm talking about people. "Winning With Stupidity" thats what my team is all about.
    Dec 6, 2015 at 1:57 PM
  • Niner
    Sadly Jed won't get rid of Tomsula . 1) He would never pay Tomsula and another coach and Tomsula at the same time. 2) he could never admit he was wrong...incomprehensible for the trust fund baby. 3) winning is leass important than keepin salaries of coaches and players low. Besides it really appears the harbaugh, mooch Walsh types mentally intimidate him, he like the more simple suit Nolan, pants dropping, total lost Tomsula types.
    Dec 2, 2015 at 2:46 PM
  • Dallas Niner Fan
    I can't believe what has happened to my beloved 49er's due to poor management decisions. It leaves me feeling empty with not much to look forward to. The NFL overall has really gone downhill. Several owners (York, Jones) only care about revenue from their over priced stadiums and care little about their fans. Officiating is horrible and very inconsistent as evidenced from last week's game. How many times have we seen great plays being called back for a stupid penalty. Games are becoming long and boring. On top of all that the product on the field gets worse and worse. I mean the top team in the NFL East is leading the conference with a losing record....Really!!!! Because of all this I find myself watching college much more and find it very enjoyable. Just wondering if anyone feels the same way?
    Dec 2, 2015 at 2:00 PM
  • BILL
    Dec 2, 2015 at 10:10 AM
  • Gary Rice
    Excellent article! Your last sentence 'hits it out of the ballpark." What quality coach would ever want to work for York or Ballke? The only wise decision York has made was to hire Harbaugh. He will never again hire a strong- take-charge coach because York's ego cannot take it.
    Dec 2, 2015 at 9:47 AM
    Response: Thanks Gary
  • Dan Waterman
    Key words here are Half Empty stadium, an all out fan mutiny, boycott the team merchandise. Influence the sponsors that they are promoting a crappy product. Stop watching games on TV rating will drop. That is the only language papa York and his incompetent president and sleaze ball GM will understand.
    Dec 2, 2015 at 9:41 AM
  • Ron
    What a mess.... A baby couldn't mess up their diaper better than this debacle! Tomusala is in way way over his head. Enough of this nice man wonderful person bullshit. Mr York... Mom and Daddy are going to get a little upset next year when the stadium is half full. Someone needs to slap you silly. You can fix this tragedy by hiring a seasoned winner who knows football...
    Dec 2, 2015 at 7:14 AM
  • Nflguy
    When your pretending to be a qualified executive with track record of success you want to be surrounded by ass kissers willing to play along with your fantasy. The last thing you want around is someone that doesnt care about office politics and won't kiss ass or play along with your bs. That's how you go from an excellent coach (Harbaugh) to a loser like Tomsula.
    Dec 2, 2015 at 7:12 AM
  • nflguy
    Harbaugh could attract excellent coaches to join his staff. Tomsula couldnt get coaches to answer his calls. Its also why the Niners ended up hiring a qb coach (Logan) that had been out of football for years . His last coaching job was runningbacks coach for Tampa in 2011. They also hired him before hiring the OC. After all halfway decent coordinators told SF to take a hike they were left no option but to promote crappy coaches already on staff. It was embarrassing for the franchise and clear sign the "leadership" at the top is a joke.
    Dec 2, 2015 at 7:08 AM
    Response: From what I heard, there were a number of coaching candidates who were leery to be part of Tomsula's staff until they saw what he could do as a HC. That's why they ended up with castoffs and retreads on their staff. I mean, teams weren't exactly lined up for Cryst and Mangini as coaches, let alone coordinators. They have to reset everything. Not ideal, but there's no other choice.
  • Nflguy
    It was obviously a huge blunder to promote Tomsula to head coach. This wasn't a move that surprised everyone that it failed. It was rightfully viewed as another bonehead York mistake from the start. Remember the embarrassing Press conference announcing Tomsula as HC? A major factor in what a good head coach brings to the table is the ability to attract good coaches that want to come work for him. Harbaugh good attract
    Dec 2, 2015 at 7:02 AM
  • Matt
    Tomsula = Peter Principle He was a good d line coach, but rose to be a bad HC
    Dec 2, 2015 at 2:55 AM
  • michael Gardner
    The narcism displayed by little deep...tbe value of the franchise..was built by Eddie D..he put the money into his players and expected wins..championships...and super bowls...he showed up and his players took care of buisness...and his players loved him...he made forty niners now yorky us more interested un season ticket money than gettinv a 20 million dollar QB...that can rup
    Dec 2, 2015 at 1:41 AM
  • JCNinerBaller
    Jed York needs to fire Paraag Marathe, then resign as CEO so he can assume that position. So Eddie DeBartolo can come back as CEO, to get this Franchise back to winning ways & be a mentor to Jed. So he can learn first hand from the best !!
    Dec 1, 2015 at 10:55 PM
  • Silly21
    This reminds me of the Padres when they wanted a new stadium. The put together a world series team, got their stadium then traded away everyone that was good. They haven't been good in 17 years. So...I guess its not another 8 years of bad 49er football, but 20 plus years of being the joke of Cali. Fans need a blackout day..a day in which no one goes to a game and no one watches it on t.v. See how the react to their loss of money.
    Dec 1, 2015 at 8:52 PM
  • Cliff Peanis
    We're done. We're so fucking done. Stick a fork in it and flip the s**t over.
    Dec 1, 2015 at 8:43 PM
  • RishikeshA
    This deception and back biting going on behind the scene gives a bad image to the Nation about this franchise. The only qualifications needed to run an NFL team are super wealth or inherited super wealth, nothing else. The final results are not winning with class or Super Bowl wins, it's show me the money. The Yorks won "their" SB when the Stadium became a reality.
    Dec 1, 2015 at 7:37 PM
  • Jose Ponce Jr
    Forget all the B.S. PERIOD !!! Since JED York & Ballek or what ever his name is! "Their choices" have destroyed a WINNING TEAM TO TODAYS NINERS !!!!!! Every Coaching change,player trade & probally a couple PLAYERS decision to retire who still had 4 or 5 great years left. I hope you have the guts to do the right thing & retire yourselves or please TRADE YOURSELVES SOMEWHERE ELSE!!!! AND GO NINERS !!!!!! M Y T E A M.
    Dec 1, 2015 at 7:25 PM
  • Lucky Phil
    In the words of the immortal Andrew Meyer, "Don't Tase Me Bro, Don't Tase Me!". Isn't that how it feels every Sunday? You sit down on the Lazy Boy with a bowl Bizquick pancake mix and pitcher of anti-freeze, just trying to relax and un-wind. And then the 49ers game comes on, your butt cheeks clinch, your ass sphincter tightens. You know that feeling, the feeling you have when you are bracing yourself for the inevitable ass job of all #$@&ing Ass Jobs. Thanks Jed, Thanks! Next Sunday, Cleveland? Great I'll be there! Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu$#@@$$k!
    Dec 1, 2015 at 7:14 PM
  • Big C
    Tom is just the next fall guy after Kap, you have to cut the head off the snake the 49ers are run by a bunch of ass kissers with no reguards to the product
    Dec 1, 2015 at 6:40 PM
  • steve
    Yea Im also not happy with the way our team is headed but can we please stop with the "dump York" comments. They own the team, they make money with the team and they aren't selling the team. They knew they screwed up with the Singletary hire and ate that contract. A winning team makes more money for them so I believe they will get a different and hopefully better staff in next year.
    Dec 1, 2015 at 6:39 PM
  • Jim Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
    In the words of the late great Ernie Banks, "It's good day for blueballs, let's play with two".
    Dec 1, 2015 at 6:23 PM
  • Brian B
    @ Jim Tomsula, By: Jim Tomsula Date: December 1, 2015 at 6:08 PM Comment: Go F Yourself 1st solid comment made all season! If you only could transfer that killer instinct on the field!
    Dec 1, 2015 at 6:20 PM
  • Jim Tomsula
    Go F Yourself
    Dec 1, 2015 at 6:08 PM
  • "The Real" Jimmy T.
    Answers to Lucky Phil's questions. 1) confidence in my ability to count to four. 2) I like to be ready and able to yell at all times. 3) I have lock jaw. I haven't shut my mouth for three years. 4) I don't worry about a mouthfull of pigeon crap, I have bigger problems. 5) After. 6) 10 months and counting. I haven't blinked in a meeting with York for five years.
    Dec 1, 2015 at 5:26 PM
  • TJ
    That's just it... & I'm afraid we are screwed, cause like the article says who would want to work for York or Balkee?? That's why York needs to step down & Balkee needs to be fired!!
    Dec 1, 2015 at 5:13 PM
  • Terry B.
    Al, will you please just give it up already? The 49ers should fire Tomsula "if the 49ers really care about their future." For the last time, the 49ers DON'T care about their future, except in a financial sense. If the 49ers really cared about their future on the field, they wouldn't have even DREAMED of hiring Tomsula in the first place. To say that the 49ers "should" fire Tomsula is equivalent to saying that there "should" be peace on earth. You're absolutely right, but you're absolutely wasting your time. Please, please just give it up.
    Dec 1, 2015 at 5:06 PM
  • hector
    Also Niners are 30th on 3rd down conversions and describes what the offense has failed miserably on current season. Gabbert has managed the games but is not kind of performance gives any confidence for playoff hopes.
    Dec 1, 2015 at 4:09 PM

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