I had met and talked with Jim Tomsula several years ago while he was still the defensive lines coach. He was a good man. He knew his craft. His players respected him.
When the 49ers tabbed him as head coach, I thought that there may be a chance that he could get through to the players. But since I didn’t think he had the X’s and O’s background to really succeed as a head coach, it was hard for me to see how far he could take this depleted roster.
Now that it looks like he’s done, I wonder what this means for the organization. Tomsula was not the best option as head coach at the time. The 49ers could have tried harder to find a new coach with higher qualifications. But instead, it seemed like Jed York just went the easy route.
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.