From 2011 to 2013, the San Francisco 49ers were arguably the best, most consistent team in the NFL. But after going 13-19 over the last two years, the Niners are preparing for their third head coach in as many seasons.
At this point, is San Francisco even a desirable head-coaching destination?
“Well, I think it’s still a pretty good job,” Bleacher Report NFL insider Jason Cole said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I think the owner still wants to win. There’s a lot of places where you look at an organization and you’re not sure what the owner is all about, whether he’s just trying to make money, increase asset value, or whether he even has a clue about football. I think Jed York is earnest about wanting to win in football. So that’s a good starting point. It’s just that he’s made some mistakes along the way. He’s also had some wild successes – Jim Harbaugh was a wild success. I think the bigger issue is how much control does the general manager (Trent Baalke) have over this? How well does he work with a coach, particularly if they want to bring in a veteran coach?”
Bringing in Sean Payton or Mike Shanahan, for example, would be a wise move for San Francisco – as long as Baalke can set his ego aside.
“Is Trent Baalke going to be intimidated by bringing in somebody who’s established who probably knows more about football than he does?” Cole wondered. “That always worries me in this situation because that was his biggest problem in working with Jim Harbaugh. There was this competition about who was actually getting credit for what. Baalke wants more credit.”
The Niners, of course, are one of several NFL teams looking for a new head coach. There are also the Browns and Eagles and potentially the Titans, Dolphins, Giants and Colts, among others.
“Tennessee, I’m not sure how much they’re looking,” Cole said. “They may stay with (Mike) Mularkey. I know Miami is in there. Indianapolis is going to join the fray today at some point in time. San Diego is iffy. I think they’re on the fence but leaning towards keeping Mike McCoy. We’ll see what happens with (Tom) Coughlin. Saints could be if they decide to trade Payton. If that’s a second-round pick for Sean Payton, line me up. Fine. I’ll give you a second-round pick. How fast do you want it? So I think ultimately seven is about the number, give or take.”
Cole said the two best potential openings, in order, are the Giants and Colts. The Giants have great ownership, while the Colts have an elite quarterback for the next 10+ seasons.
“The New York Giants are the best job because you understand the consistency with which John Mara and Steve Tisch – but mostly John Mara – makes decisions,” Cole said. “He will put a GM in place, he’ll put a coach in place and he’ll let them do their job and he will come in and make the big decisions. If there’s a disagreement, he’ll help settle it, but he’s not going to micromanage. So that’s really the best operation, and they’ve done it that way for years and years and years and years.”