When the San Francisco 49ers hired Jim Harbaugh, they had it easy. The team immediately saw success and didn’t have to entertain the idea of wondering whether or not the hire was a good one. It was a great hire. The 49ers were contenders for the Super Bowl in the first three seasons of Harbaugh’s tenure. Then in the fourth season, due to some power struggle and undermining, the team faltered to an 8-8 record and Harbaugh was gone.
Rather than thoughtfully seek a new head coach, the 49ers under CEO Jed York took the easy way out and hired Jim Tomsula and revamped the coaching staff to this collection of misfit ideas. It was a poor hire and one year later, the 49ers let Tomsula go. He couldn’t wait to get rid of Harbaugh instead of resolving the issue. He quickly then dismissed Tomsula (with news surfacing before season ended).
So the 49ers knew they had to get it right. They can’t afford to screw up once again. After interviewing the likes of Hue Jackson, Tom Coughlin and Mike Shanahan, the team settled for Chip Kelly.
On paper, it’s a decent hire with possibilities of being great. Kelly was successful in Philadelphia but his desire for more power with the Eagles cost him his job. He didn’t have a great season this past year but his innovative thinking could save this team. There is a lot of potential. But the real success of this hire will fall on the front office staff.
General manager Trent Baalke will still have control of the player decisions and that is one step in preventing the power struggle that cost Kelly his job in Philly. York has to realize that this team can be a contender for a championship. But he has to be patient with it.
The 49ers roster is still recovering from the exodus of key players last offseason. The team had no realistic chance of succeeding with Tomsula and his staff in 2015. Now in 2016, the team is hitting the reset button. This is a clean slate for the team. They need to be patient.
As much as York desires for the 49ers to be competing for championships, he cannot expect it to happen immediately. Kelly brings in a different system and different approach. Kelly might want to fix a broken Colin Kaepernick. Kelly is bringing in his own staff, which requires an adjustment period for the team. He might find instant success. But if not, the 49ers have to be patient.
For the hire to reach its full potential, the 49ers have to allow Kelly to work his style and his system into place. With the team, Kelly has to be given time to succeed. If there is progress, York has to hold his tongue.
York knows that he can’t be in the public like he once did. He can’t go on Twitter to throw shade at his coach. The toughest thing for York and the front office is to believe in their hire.
Whether or not the hiring of Kelly is the right move remains to be seen. But to get the answer, the 49ers have to be patient and wait. That’s the only way to go about it. And it starts with York setting that standard.