I remember when I met Jim Tomsula for the first time. I had seen him on the sidelines and did stories on him, but it wasn’t until an impromptu meeting with the media in the 2011 season. At the time, the media had some limitations to their access to the players under Jim Harbaugh. It was Harbaugh’s first season and understandably, he was trying to ensure that his first season went well without distractions.
However, the 49ers’ defensive line was excelling that year. Rookie Aldon Smith and fellow pass rusher Justin Smith were both making big waves. Aldon was starting to gain traction in the rookie of the year discussion and Justin was a serious candidate for defensive player of the year. (Tomsula was a major advocate for Justin Smith when the pass rusher was a free agent after the 2007 season.) We in the media wanted to speak with the coach behind the resurgent defensive line and Tomsula obliged with an almost hour-long discussion with the media in December.
Here is the piece I wrote following the discussion.
My first time at Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers won the game 20-17.
Since I live in LA, I rarely have time to come up to the Bay Area. Even though I was there for the construction of Levi’s Stadium, I had never actually step foot inside the building. Yesterday I finally did that to catch the 49ers’ season finale. How appropriate that I was at Jim Harbaugh’s first ever game and now I attended his last game.
The stadium itself look gorgeous from the outside. I was smart enough to take Light Rail to the stadium and I got there early so I didn’t have to worry about getting too packed in trying to get inside. The area right outside the entrance with all the booths was really nice. Great way to keep people occupied as they wait. Once inside, I was amazed at how nice it looked. There doesn’t seem to be a bad view from any spot. I like that once up the stairs, you get a nice view of the field.
It was spacious. This was something Candlestick never had and it was a huge improvement. I didn’t eat everything but I did try a torta and a seafood chowder bowl. Not bad. One thing that I wish I had done was go to the museum, but I didn’t have time for it. Instead I just walked around. There wasn’t a lot of things to occupy me when I walked around. It just seemed very big. But I guess that’s fine.
We saw this coming. Now it has come.
I’m not going to blame or point fingers as to why the 49ers failed this season and all this unraveled. There is blame to be put on both the front office and Harbaugh himself. I don’t even know how much influence the players had in the season-long struggle. But both were unable to resolve their issues and now we’re here.
But even with Harbaugh leaving, the 49ers should be thankful for what he did. Three straight winning seasons, all with trips to the NFC title game. The team’s first Super Bowl appearance in 20 years and great fan interest rejuvenated after nearly a decade of futility.
Does one bad season diminish his accomplishments? Of course not. But this bad season is the reason why this four-year era is over. There was a clear discord between Harbaugh and the front office. Despite three years of great success, it ended up being a battle of power and this is where most problems in the NFL originate. When the two most important sides don’t see eye to eye, then the foundation becomes shaky.
Earlier this year I wrote that Ray McDonald’s legal troubles and the 49ers’ insistence to let the legal process sort it out would define the reputation of Jed York and the team. And in the end, the 49ers came out on top. Of course, the rumblings of whether or not the officer helping McDonald had any connection with the team is the what if that still remains.
Now, another what if hovers over the team involving Ray McDonald. It’s not whether or not the decision to release him was right (I believe it was) but it’s more on what if the 49ers were still in the playoff hunt?
Remember, the 49ers stuck with McDonald the first time and because of that, McDonald was able to play instead of serving a punishment. If the 49ers were not eliminated from the playoff hunt, would the 49ers have held on to McDonald just a bit for his services on the field?
In 2010, I was interning at Bleacher Report. My job was to send out newsletters to various subscribers of certain teams. I had a lot of responsibilities for SEC college football teams and one of the teams was South Carolina. Naturally during that season I kept a close eye on Marcus Lattimore as he was just dominating the running game for the Gamecocks. I felt that I was learning so much about college football and a lot about South Carolina. Instantly, I became a fan of Lattimore as he was just impressive to watch and follow.
When he suffered the knee injuries I was devastated. The player I watched and cheered for may not be able to play again. Fortunately he was able to make himself a prospect worth considering and the 49ers saw that. Combining a favorite player of mine and my favorite team was just a wonderful idea. I saw the NFL Films documentary on Lattimore and the joy he and his family had when the 49ers called him while he was eating lunch at Benihana.
I knew that also the 49ers were taking a risk on a player that wasn’t fully healed and it was an investment.
The investment ended today and I wish Lattimore the best. He never got a chance to do what he loved but knowing what he was able to accomplish in the past, he was primed for greatness. Most importantly, he has been a humble guy and would have been a great leader on this team. Good luck where ever you go, Marcus. I’ll always remain a fan.
The face you make when the NFL says you didn’t use a racial slur and still fines you $5500? *shrugs* back to my grind! #IDontGetTired #WhoDoYouLove #Se7enPounds
So the initial fine for the racial slur has been cut in half because a racial slur was never said. So why is Colin Kaepernick still being fined? If it was just for a general profanity, then that must be singling him out. Tons of non-racial profane words are said on the football field yet these players don’t get fined.
I don’t know how the league can police these things. They’re trying and by this situation, it is clear that it isn’t clear at all.
A lot is on the line for the 49ers and it rides on the outcome of the Ray McDonald investigation.
Throughout the entire Ray Rice domestic violence news that has overtaken us this past 24 hours, we are reminded that the 49ers are dealing with a similar situation. “Ray McDonald is not Ray Rice,” 49ers CEO Jed York told KNBR this morning. He is right. But it’s tough to try to sift through all the discussion with domestic violence right in the forefront and not find similarities.
Ray McDonald is not Ray Rice. That is true. His situation is not similar to that of Rice’s. But with Rice ordeal still in our minds, the 49ers are very aware of the potential consequences if McDonald’s alleged domestic violence attack is true.
But of course, the 49ers are not the type of organization to be the judge, jury and executioner on their own. They wait when they’re demanded to be swift. The same way they waited and allowed Aldon Smith to play one game before hearing the outcry of the public. Then did Smith receive some sort of punishment in the form of rehab. It was only then after did the NFL suspend Smith for nine games.
They knew that Smith was out of control, yet they balked at making a move.