Lowell Cohn: Jed York, Trent Baalke failing in search for 49ers coach

Tomsula me no Tomsulas.

Vic me no Fangios.

Rex me no Ryans.

Mike me no Shanahans.

Adam me no Gases.

What in the world are the 49ers thinking?

Reports circulate on the internet and in the papers that the 49ers have interviewed, or will interview or hope to interview a cast of thousands for their vacant head-coaching job. There are so many candidates they could fill Levi’s Stadium and spill onto Marie P. DeBartolo Way.

Well, let Jed York and Trent Baalke interview 10,000 contestants if it makes them feel good, if they can learn from the interviews and finally hire a dynamite coach. But the list that’s emerging causes doubt in Jed and Trent - not the first time these two have invited doubt. The list suggests intellectual flailing by those two intellectuals in charge.

Like Jim Tomsula, currently defensive line coach for the Niners. True, he has head-coaching experience, a thimbleful. That would have been in 2006 when he coached in Germany in the NFL Europa league, now dead as a doornail. And, oh, he coached the Niners for one game in 2010 after they dumped Mike Singletary. At the time, Tomsula seemed embarrassed by the assignment. Shortly thereafter, the Niners hired Jim Harbaugh, not Tomsula.

We ask Tomsula this question: Hey, Jimmy, who is your offensive coordinator?

A head coach does not arrive alone. He brings with him an entire cadre of coaches, and these coaches express a football vision. I don’t believe Tomsula is connected enough to know a first-rate offensive coordinator. I don’t believe he can bring with him an elite bunch of coaches. And I sure don’t believe he has an overall vision. Or as Bill Walsh would say again and again about one mediocre NFL coach or another, “He’s not cutting edge.”

Like Vic Fangio. Excellent defensive coordinator. No head-coaching pedigree. We have seen great coordinators fall on their faces as head coaches. Buddy Ryan. Norv Turner. Josh McDaniels. It’s reported the 49ers already interviewed McDaniels, offensive coordinator with the Patriots who once got a chance as head coach with Denver and got run out of town, in part because the Broncos - his Broncos - broke league rules by videotaping a 49ers walk-through. The Niners are interested in this guy?

The list of coordinator flops is endless.

Nothing in Fangio’s resume screams HEAD COACH! He’s 56, old for his first head-coaching gig, probably too old. You wonder why he never qualified before. And one other thing: Vic, who is your offensive coordinator?

Like Rex Ryan, recently dumped by the sad-sack Jets. How do you say blowhard? How do you say windbag? How do you say fraud?

Ryan had six seasons to make the Jets respectable. Forget about it. He has a composite losing record with the Jets. This season his record was 4-12. You’re telling me Jed and Trent contemplate replacing the winner Harbaugh with a clown.

Like Mike Shanahan. He won two Super Bowls in Denver when he had John Elway. He seemed a sure Hall of Fame coach. After Elway retired, Shanahan was no longer special. The Hall of Fame got dimmer for him.

He went to the Redskins as a savior - that word savior attaches to many coaches like, say, Harbaugh at Michigan. At the Redskins, Shanahan saved nothing. His overall record was 24-41, miserable. He is supposed to be a quarterback developer. How well did he develop Robert Griffin III?

Shanahan was a great coach in his day. His day was long ago. He’s like a novelist who has written 30 books. Everyone knows what he’s going to write next. Everyone has figured him out. He had his moment on the stage. A man needs to know when the moment is over.

Like Adam Gase. Maybe you never heard of him. Jed and Trent have heard of him. He is the offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos. He never has been a head coach. He is 36. He has a young look. If I was a bartender and he ordered a beer, I’d card him.

He became Denver’s offensive coordinator in 2013. Guess who the Broncos’ quarterback was when Gase became coordinator. Peyton Manning.

How much did Gase teach Manning? I mean, did Gase take Manning aside, Manning two years his senior, Manning a million times more savvy, and did Gase have the nerve to say, “Peyton, I’ve seen something wrong with your delivery and I’m the man to fix it”?

Sure. Right. Peyton Manning is his own offensive coordinator and Gase, if he’s smart, says as little as possible. We’re supposed to think this is a serious head-coach candidate.

This partial list of 49ers’ candidates is troubling - actually, it’s a laugh riot. It indicates lack of vision, lack of know-how. What are Jed and Trent looking for? Do they even know?

Earth to Jed and Trent. You need a guy who’s done it before. He can be a current NFL head coach or he can be a college head coach. He needs to be mature and he needs experience at running a whole program. Running the defensive line just won’t cut it.

He needs to be extremely connected when it comes to coordinators and position coaches. And he needs a vision for his offense and his defense and, get this, for his entire team.

And remember, Jed, it doesn’t matter if you personally get along with the guy. It matters if he wins. That’s all that matters.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at

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