Here is a link to my Tuesday column. The full text runs below:
Advice to Jim Tomsula, currently head coach of the 49ers:
If you’re seeing things running through your head, who can you call? Ghostbusters.
Every coach riding a four-game losing streak needs a personal ghostbuster, a friend or mentor he can talk things out with, someone to lean on, an advocate who can offer words of wisdom how to get through this current evil stretch. It’s not about game plans or X’s and O’s. It’s finding someone the coach can ventilate with. Someone to chase the ghosts away.
The ghostbuster cannot be a person in the team building, certainly not on the coaching staff. Staff members are part of the problem, part of the toxicity permeating the team. They are going down with the head coach. And like him, they are desperate and afraid for their jobs.
Working members in the organization approach the coach differently, often are afraid to talk to him. I’m sure you’ve already felt this, Jim. They don’t know what to say. You are combating the depressed mental atmosphere on the team. You’ve got to rid the locker room and meeting rooms of that losing smell. Right now, it probably feels like a funeral parlor at 49ers HQ.
For all this cleansing you need a ghostbuster. Someone detached, sane, unemotional, objective. Someone who cares about you.
Jim Tomsula, who you gonna call?
Al Davis used to phone Sid Gillman, the Socrates of modern football. Gillman would not give Davis solutions to problems on the field. He would listen to Davis and ask questions and allow Davis to vent and, after a while, Davis could think straight and find his own answers to his own problems. Davis benefited from being in the Gillman coaching tree.
Romeo Crennel, a Bill Belichick disciple, would call Belichick just to talk when things were going bad. Crennel benefited from being in the Belichick family tree.
Mike Holmgren would phone Bill Walsh when times got tough. Holmgren benefited from being in the Walsh coaching tree. Walsh, Gillman and Belichick were known ghostbusters.
Monday, I asked Tomsula the ghostbuster question without actually saying the word ghostbuster.
“In the past,” I said, “I’ve known coaches who have gone through tough periods like you’re going through, who would call friends, mentors, other coaches from the past in their lives. Not to get answers, just to ventilate and talk to people not in their organization. So, my question for you is, have you done that and, if you have, could you tell us who?”
“Well, I’d rather not get into who,” Tomsula said, “but yes I do have people that I’ve worked for. And, a few of them are from the old NFL Europe, guys that were retired NFL coaches. I do, do that. I’ve always done that. So, yes sir, I do that. I refer back to notes. I do that on airplanes, things like that. I’m always trying to, there’s a quality control I try to do with myself to make sure that you’re seeing, what is it the trees through the forest or the forest through the trees? To make sure that it’s that one, let’s take a look at it. So, yes I do, do that.”
It’s nice to know Tomsula has ghostbusters. Everyone needs a ghostbuster. I was hoping he’d mention Jim Harbaugh, a pretty good coach in his own right, doing pretty well now in his own right, a former boss of Tomsula’s and a man with lots to offer in the ghostbuster role. But Tomsula didn’t mention Harbaugh as someone he could shoot the breeze with. Imagine that.
I bet Harbaugh gave his administrative assistant a do-not-put-through-a-call-from-this-guy-on-pain-of-death list, and Tomsula’s name tops that dreaded list.
Ditto for Mike Singletary, Mike Nolan, Vic Fangio and Mike Solari. But who the heck needs those guys when Tomsula has at his disposal the finest minds of NFL Europe, defunct since 2007. Tomsula didn’t name names. It goes without saying the NFL Europe names, if we knew them, would blow the roof off San Francisco or Santa Clara. Or wherever.
Most coaches exist in coaching trees — the Gillman coaching tree, the Belichick coaching tree, the Walsh coaching tree. Forget that for Tomsula. He’s above trees. Never count him out because he has a whole freaking continent on his side. “Hey, Gladys, get me Europe on the horn.” Of course, he must allow for time-zone differences, find that special time window when he can talk to his ghostbusters across the Atlantic.
And don’t forget, in addition to NFL Europe ghostbusters, Tomsula has notes he has accumulated through every august stop in his career, especially when he head-coached the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe. These notes are sure to be a classic of the genre. When Tomsula’s career is over, he can package them with Bill Walsh’s game tapes and donate them to the Smithsonian Institute or, at least, the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
I guess I’m saying the last-place Niners are in good shape because of Tomsula’s extensive NFL Europe connections and his copious notes. But Jim, on the off-chance you lose next Sunday to the Ravens, another 1-4 team, and on the off-chance your record slips to 1-5, well really, who you gonna call?
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.