This is my Wednesday column.
I don’t get you, Jed. You say you know what you’re looking for and you still can’t find it.
I asked you Monday what qualities the next head coach of the 49ers should have. You were prepared for that question. Right away, you said, “I want a teacher. I think what made Bill Walsh so successful is that he was a great teacher, whether that was (teaching) players or whether that was (teaching) coaches.”
It was a good answer. You do need a teacher, especially one who can teach Colin Kaepernick how to play quarterback. I appreciate your straightforwardness on this. Now, I know exactly who you should hire. It’s clear as day.
But you’re lost in the dark. The coach you should hire isn’t on the preliminary list of coaches you intend to interview. How did you manage that one? Did you pick names out of a hat? Did Trent Baalke compile this cockamamie list for you?
I’ll make it easy, Jed. I’ll tell you who to hire. Go ahead, you can copy my answer. Tell Baalke you came up with it yourself. But before you do, let’s go through your list so I can explain why you can’t hire anyone on it.
THE IN-HOUSE CANDIDATES
1. Jim Tomsula.
2. Vic Fangio.
Tomsula is a defensive line coach. Fangio is a defensive coordinator who used to coach linebackers. What could either guy teach Kaepernick? About as much as I could.
If you hire Fangio or Tomsula, the key question becomes who will they hire as the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach? And the answer is definitely nobody on the current staff. Kaepernick would have improved by now if Greg Roman and Geep Chryst were good enough.
Tomsula and Fangio are not associated with any of the top offensive coordinators in the NFL. Forget them.
THE OTHER CANDIDATES
1. Todd Bowles, defensive coordinator, Arizona Cardinals.
Who is this guy? His resume is microscopic. Bowles became a defensive coordinator in 2012 (Fangio became one in 1995). Bowles never was on a team that won a playoff game and hasn’t been a consistent success in the NFL. He built his recent reputation by blitzing like crazy.
The Niners’ defense is not built to blitz. Blitzing puts pressure on cornerbacks to cover good receivers one-on-one. The Cardinals have Patrick Peterson, an All-Pro corner. Baalke doesn’t invest in corners. He invests in pass rushers, like Aldon Smith and Aaron Lynch, who, when they’re in shape, provide all the pass rush a defense needs. Fangio is a better fit to coach this defense than Bowles.
But, Jed, Baalke will push to hire Bowles. I guarantee it. Understand why. Bowles is a beginner, meaning Baalke can push him around. Who is Bowles to fight back? And Bowles is a Bill-Parcells disciple – Bowles coached defensive backs under Parcells for two seasons in Dallas and three seasons in Miami.
Parcells gave Baalke his first job in the NFL as a scout for the Jets in 1998. Baalke is a Parcells disciple, too. If Parcells calls Baalke and says, “Bowles is great, you should hire him,” Baalke will take that seriously. He owes Parcells.
But you don’t. Pass on Bowles.
2. Dan Quinn, defensive coordinator, Seattle Seahawks.
Quinn has even less experience than Bowles, considering he’s been a defensive coordinator in the NFL for just two seasons. And how good is Quinn? The Seahawks don’t need him. Pete Carroll runs that defense.
Gus Bradley preceded Quinn as Seattle’s defensive coordinator. The Jaguars hired Bradley in 2013 to be their head coach and, so far, his record is 7-25. Why would Quinn be any better?
3. Josh McDaniels, offensive coordinator, New England Patriots.
How did this guy get on the list? Give me a freaking break.
McDaniels is no teacher. He only succeeds when he coaches Tom Brady. Everyone succeeds when they coach Tom Brady.
McDaniels already flopped once as a head coach – the Broncos fired him after just 28 games, not even two full seasons. In 2010, McDaniels demanded the Broncos trade up in the first round to draft Tim Tebow, thinking he could make Tebow an NFL quarterback. Now Tebow is on Good Morning America.
4. Adam Gase, offensive coordinator, Denver Broncos.
I shouldn’t even call him an offensive coordinator. Technically he has the title, but Peyton Manning runs the offense. Manning calls the plays at the line of scrimmage. Manning teaches Gase, not the other way around.
Gase prints out stats and holds a clipboard. Before he did that stuff for Manning, Gase did it for Mike Martz on the Lions.
You were close, though, Jed. The coach you should hire works for the Broncos. I’m talking about their defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio.
Is Del Rio even on your radar? You should be familiar with him. This past October, he held your first-string offense to just 10 points, held Frank Gore to 20 rushing yards, held Anquan Boldin to 50 receiving yards – absolutely shut down your best players.
He’s been a defensive coordinator for two teams – the Panthers and the Broncos – he went to the Super Bowl last season and he has nine years of head-coaching experience with the Jaguars, a bad franchise, where he went 68-71. Jacksonville has gone 9-39 since they fired him.
Del Rio could bring with him Dirk Koetter, an offensive coordinator who knows something about passing and developing quarterbacks. Del Rio hired Koetter away from Arizona State in 2007, gave Koetter his first NFL offensive coordinator job. They coached together until 2011 when Del Rio got fired. Del Rio spent the past three seasons with the Broncos and Koetter spent the past three seasons with the Falcons, coaching the offense and developing Matt Ryan.
Del Rio is the most qualified candidate you can hire. Plus, he went to Hayward High School, home of the Farmers. He’s a Bay Area guy. He’s perfect.
But Baalke won’t want him. Trust me. Del Rio is a strong guy who has more experience and success than Baalke, so Baalke could not push him around.
Don’t listen to Baalke. Do what’s best for your franchise. Hire Del Rio.
Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.