To those who wonder why the 49ers elevated Jim Tomsula from defensive line coach to head coach, there's a simple answer: There was nobody else.
Surely you've noticed that every time there was an indication the 49ers were interested in a coach, he declined even interviewing with the team. There were some wild rumors out there, including one that Mike Shanahan might be interested.
Any coach has to ask himself a simple question: How can I improve on a coach who got the team to at least the NFC Championship Game in each of his first three seasons?
It doesn't help that the Niners didn't even consider defensive coordinator Vic Fangio for the head job. It's impossible to know if Fangio is one of those coordinators who can step up to the main job or one who is at his top level now, but that doesn't seem to be the question general manager Trent Baalke and club president Jed York were asking. They were apparently concerned about his loyalty to Jim Harbaugh.
So, they settled for a coach they know will be loyal only to them for as long as he has the job. Tomsula is a nice guy, but he is very limited. When I heard him talk about how much he enjoyed seeing players smash into one another, I heard echoes of Mike Singletary, who had the same philosophy. You remember how successful Singletary was as a head coach, of course.
Now, there's talk that Lane Kiffin will be the offensive coordinator. Kiffin, of course, is saying he's staying at Alabama, but his history says that he'll leave if he thinks he's advancing his career. When he was hired as coach of the Raiders, I wrote that Al Davis saw Kiffin as a younger image of himself. Davis was exactly right. Kiffin was scheming to get back to USC as the coach. He eventually got there, but then got fired.
Even with that, I'd like to see him with the Niners because he is a good offensive coordinator and watching him and Baalke trying to knife each other would be great theater.
But don't expect him to make a quarterback of Colin Kaepernick, who wants to play the same way he always has. So, good defenses will always stop him.
And that's really all we can expect for the next few years from the 49ers. Baalke and York are totally unrealistic in their evaluations of their team. There wasn't enough talent left last year, after free agency losses and injuries to key players, for Harbaugh to get them to the playoffs. And now, Tomsula is going to do it?
All this is good news for the Raiders. They showed some improvement this season and they have a quarterback in place for the near future in Derek Carr. With better receivers and a stronger offensive line, he'll only get better.
Meanwhile, Baalke and York have dug themselves a very big hole. It could be years before the Niners are competitive again. Harbaugh will get the last laugh.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.