Here’s a link to my Monday column after the Niners usual loss in Seattle. The full text runs below:
The 49ers need to fire coach Jim Tomsula. Not at the end of the season. Fire him now. Before the next game. Put in an interim coach to drag the team through the final six games. Then fire him.
Not to say Tomsula is the only problem. Jed York and Trent Baalke have plenty to answer for, and Baalke’s day will come. But the guilt of York and Baalke does not absolve Tomsula. There is no excuse for him.
Why fire Tomsula now?
Because he has made the point abundantly clear. He is not an NFL head coach. Never will be. He doesn’t know how to make things better.
His team was coming off a good win against Atlanta. His team had hope. His team went into a bye week. The players could get well. The coaching staff had two weeks to prepare a game plan. You don’t expect brilliant from Tomsula and his guys. Good would be enough.
The plan and effort were shameful. The 49ers lost 29-13 and their record is 3-7. A shambles. Shame on the 49ers we saw in Seattle. Shame on the coaching staff. The Niners came out flat against their rival, came out flat even though a win would have kept them hopeful for a wild-card spot. They could not embrace the seriousness of the game.
And this is on Tomsula. Get your team ready, coach. It’s the most important thing you do. You didn’t do it.
Something else that’s on Tomsula. The 49ers run defense. The ridiculous 49ers run defense. Before the game, the Seahawks announced their great running back Marshawn Lynch wouldn’t play. What a break for the Niners. The replacement back was Thomas Rawls.
Thomas Rawls, an undrafted rookie.
Well, the Niners would murder him. Not so fast. Rawls ran for 209 yards. He averaged 7 yards a carry. He gorged on the Niners run defense. And get this, the Niners run defense is Tomsula’s specialty. He used to coach the defensive line — never should have been promoted past that level. There was sentiment in the Niners organization he deserved credit for the 49ers defense the past few years. Not Vic Fangio. The fact that the run defense could not cope was an indictment of Tomsula. He can’t get through to his players. Or they no longer listen.
Tomsula’s run defenders hung around the line of scrimmage like bored spectators at a poetry reading while Rawls, whoever he is, ripped off momentous gains. It was so embarrassing. For this alone, Tomsula needs to get fired. Of course, there’s more.
He came to the interview room late. In my notebook I wrote, “Long time coming.” Maybe he was taking stock of his life. Or communing with the spirits. Or crying. His voice was like the whisper of a funeral director comforting the grieving. Except he was the grieving party. He kept shaking his head. He looked like someone with no answers.
He said he was disappointed in the tackling. He used the word “disappointed” a lot. A few days ago, he told the media the team would start fast. Asked why it didn’t start fast, he said, “I mean opening fast in the course of the play. Don’t feel your way through the play. Come off the ball and attack.”
So, opening fast doesn’t mean opening fast. It means something about particular plays. Even when Tomsula speaks in complete sentences, it’s nonsense. For this alone, Tomsula needs to get fired. Of course, there’s more.
I asked why the team didn’t tackle well. He gave me a look like I’d spoken Russian. “I have to look at it,” he said.
Meant he had to look at the film. A Mike Singletary answer. Oh God, look at the film. For that answer alone, he needs to get fired. Of course, there’s more.
Come with me into the silent postgame locker room. Left tackle Joe Staley sitting at his locker. Staley, solid citizen.
“Can you put into words what’s wrong with the team?” I asked.
Staley with sad eyes. “Umm, not really,” he said. “I can’t give you a good sound bite there. Frustrating. Even in the games we won, we haven’t played a complete game. It’s either one side (or the other) carrying the team in those wins. When we lose, it’s one side or the other or both sides (not playing well) at the same time. We’ve got to put a full game together.”
That failure to coalesce is on the head coach.
“This was a huge game for us,” Staley said. “Big opportunity. We knew going in it’s a hard place to win. Teams have done it this year. It’s very embarrassing.”
“Why embarrassing?” I asked.
“It’s not what we play for. We’re 3-7. It’s … I don’t know … it’s just…” His voice trailed off.
On the defensive side of the room linebacker Ahmad Brooks was dressing. Naturally reporters asked why the defense didn’t stop the run. Brooks said he and others were out of position. “We took turns doing that, collectively,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons they had 253 yards rushing (really 255). That’s crazy. That’s crazy numbers to give up rushing.”
Someone asked about the Niners energy level — their somnambulism. “When you play in Seattle, there’s something about playing here,” he said. “For me especially. You come here either in November or December It’s always dark, gloomy.”
I like Brooks. Won’t make fun of him. But that dark and gloomy bit is strange. The Packers play in snow and cold. Talk about gloomy. They’re pretty good. I’m saying Tomsula can’t reach his players. His players, in total incomprehension of what gives, reach for creative explanations. For Brooks it’s the climate.
Here’s a tip. The problem is Tomsula — among other things, sure.
Jed York needs to fire him. It would be a way of starting to atone. Not for dumping Jim Harbaugh — that was York’s business. He needs to atone for hiring Tomsula instead of someone capable. For trashing the glorious 49ers tradition. For treating the fans with no respect.
Jed, fire Tomsula to show you care. Shame on you if you don’t.
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 and on Twitter @LowellCohn.