Jed York — may he remain in charge of the 49ers in perpetuity — has fired Chip Kelly (in a classless way, natch) and post-postmaturely fired Trent Baalke. We’ve been through this before, but the recent sequence of major 49ers decisions is one of the most astoundingly inept you’ll ever see outside of a Republican administration:
- The 49ers hired Jim Harbaugh, who immediately proved himself one of the best coaches in football, turning a 6-10 team into an instant contender, ultimately getting within one play of a Super Bowl and another play from a Super Bowl appearance.
- There was a power struggle between Harbaugh and the legendarily incompetent GM Baalke. The Yorks sided with…Baalke. It’s amazing. As Tanier puts it, “Baalke Deficiency Syndrome is caused by years of Baalke‘s boldly counterintuitive drafting, mixed with the kind of blatant boardroom skulduggery that makes a franchise unappealing to both its own veterans and available free agents. Baalke gave Kelly a roster with little that was even worth damaging.”
- Did they get rid of Harbaugh to hire a coaching super-prospect? Nope — they promoted a company man who had never even been a top-level coordinator.
- They were so committed to the company man they pushed out a great coach for that they fired him after one year, and to replace him handed over the worst roster in the NFL to a coach who is an outstanding tactician but a dubious judge of talent (although, to be fair to Chip, he’s still a better judge of talent than Baalke.)
- They finally recognized the obvious and fired Baalke, which practically required them to fire yet another coach after a year as well. How does their third attempt at replacing one of the 3 or 4 best football coaches in the country look? Well:
The 49ers want to recreate their “championship culture,” but they’re apparently trying to do so on a budget as well.
Whether or not it’s connected to the buyouts they’re paying Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly, the list of candidates emerging so far certainly leans toward the young and less expensive.
Via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, the list of candidates includes Seattle offensive line coach and former Raiders head coach Tom Cable, Bills interim coach Anthony Lynn, Jaguars interim coach Doug Marrone and Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, along with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
So a failed former Raider head coach and current offensive line coach presiding over a world-historically terrible offensive line, a guy with less than a full season as an offensive coordinator whose head coaching experience consists of losing by 20 points to a 5-11 team, a somewhat more experienced former Bills retread, a guy with one year of experience as a defensive coordinator, and Mr. Josh McDaniels. Have I mentioned that I hope Jed York stays in charge of the 49ers forever?
Some other Black Monday notes:
- McDaniels seems to be getting actual interviews this time, although I think he’d be even crazier to take any of those jobs than the teams would have to be to hire him.
- Good deep dive into the Age of Rex by Jenny Vrentas.
- It’s hard to know what to make of Chip Kelly at this point, but I’d say he deserves another shot as a head coach. The 49ers were a hopeless situation, and seemed to do a better job with player management — despite the firing being leaked the team played hard for him in the final game and there didn’t seem to be a lot of grumbling. The problem with someone whose strength is more in tactics than team-building is that it’s hard to find the right fit; organizations with coaching vacancies are more likely to have issues with the latter. I bet the Titans would be in the playoffs had they hired him, though. (The Tanier article linked above is a good case for skepticism.)
- On reflection, I think I was too dismissive of Kubiak yesterday. The record he compiled with Houston feat. Matt Schaub looks pretty impressive in retrospect. And while Phillips deserves a lot of credit for the Broncos winning a championship with unprecedentedly bad QB play (play that, as we now know, was definitely not Kubiak’s fault), we should also remember that he had been out of work for a year: not every coach of a contending team is willing to bring in a star coordinator and work with him effectively. Maybe Kubiak is very good rather than great, but as Phillips and many other top coordinators have shown, “very good” is a hell of a high bar to reach as an NFL head coach.
- “McCoy had John Fox levels of conservative play.” Ouch!
- Looks like Lynn will be staying in Buffalo in any case, and it’s not necessarily a bad hire, although while he’s clearly an outstanding position coach it would also concern me that the Bills seem to remain fixated on ground-and-pound. I am curious to see how Gus Bradley does as a defensive coordinator without Carroll.
- The Jets are stricking with Bowles, which after one good year and one bad year is defensible if not compelling. I might have made a change if only because it’s hard to change the GM and not the coach, and if the GM has any idea what an NFL QB looks like he’s kept it very well hidden. But can I see there’s a clearly better candidate than Bowles out there? Not really.