It's like it's 2005 all over again. The 49ers will head into the offseason looking for the three key elements to be a successful team: a general manager, a head coach and a quarterback. But unlike in 2005 when the team hired a head coach, Mike Nolan, who then picked his top personnel man, Scot McCloughan, this time the process will go in reverse order.
Team President and CEO Jed York today laid out a plan by which he will first hire a general manager and then that general manager will hire a head coach. He said the 49ers will consider former head coaches, up-and-coming assistants and current head coaches who may be out of work next month. But he said the identity of the next head coach will be decided by the general manager. "There's a broad array" of head coaching candidates, York said. "But that's not me putting that list together. Our general manager is going to put that list together. I'm not going to say, 'You're the GM, but you can't hire this guy as head coach.' Our general manager is going to have the ability to hire whoever he wants as head coach."
Still, York indicated that he'd like the next head coach to be well-versed on offense. "I wouldn't say we're strictly looking for an offensive-minded head coach, but we've had a lot of problems on the offensive side of the ball."
As for the general manager, York said he first would consider Trent Baalke, the team's current vice player of personnel, as well as former general managers who are not part of another team at the moment. That group might include people like Randy Mueller, a former GM with the Dolphins and Saints, Tom Donahoe, formerly of the Bills and Steelers, and Phil Savage, who is Cleveland's former general manager. York said if he can't find a GM from that group, at the end of the season he will begin interviewing candidates who are now part of other teams. York backed away when asked if he were interested in Cleveland President Mike Holmgren. "The only people we're talking to right now are the people we have the ability to talk to," York said.
York began the press conference by introducing interim head coach Jim Tomsula, who has been the team's defensive line coach the last four years. York said he'd like to retain Tomsula, as well as some other assistants, but that staff decisions will be made by the next GM and head coach. Tomsula is one of the more charismatic coaches on the staff and a favorite of the players. Said York: "He apologized to me for not having a suit and tie on because he didn't have a chance to go home last night. That's the kind of coach he is."
Two of Singletary's hand-picked assistants, inside linebackers coach Vantz Singletary, who is Mike Singletary's nephew, as well as pass-rush coach Al Harris, a former teammate of Mike Singletary's, were also dismissed. Under Singletary, the 49ers had one of the largest coaching staffs in the league.
-- Matt Barrows