SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Jim Tomsula’s introductory press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ p.r. department.
CEO Jed York opening comments:
“Good afternoon. We are here to introduce the new head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Jim Tomsula. It’s been a long process, a detail-oriented process. [49ers general manager] Trent Baalke will get into more details on that. We obviously interviewed a lot of candidates for this position. We are not going to get into who we talked to or what we talked about. We’re here to make sure that we talk about our new head coach and where we’re going. I’m so excited that Jimmy’s here and we’re ready to get rolling. I’ll turn it over to Trent.”
General Manager Trent Baalke opening comments:
“Well, as Jed just said, this was an exhausting process. We went about this in a very thorough manner and set out to find the next head coach, the next leader of this organization. The one thing I want to say is as I was going through this process, as we were going through this process, it was very clear there’s a lot of good football coaches out there. We met with some of the best coaches, the best young coaches in the profession. And, as we were going through it, we set out – when we talked about the pedigree – looking for the right pedigree, looking for the right leader, looking for the right teacher, looking for the right motivator. There were a lot of things that we were looking for. And I’ve been pretty fortunate in my career to be around some very good football coaches and learned a lot through that process. It’s hard when you’re interviewing people to find individuals that check all of the boxes you’re looking for. A lot of the guys that we talked to, you could check a lot of those boxes. But I kept coming back, to and we kept coming back to as a group, Jim Tomsula, because all of those boxes that we were talking about, he checked. We interviewed Jim initially, then we brought him back in for a second interview and at that time still were undecided on what direction we wanted to go, but always knew that all of the boxes we were looking for were checked [with Jim]. He’s a man of high integrity. A person who has a lot of humility and one of the finest men I’ve ever been fortunate enough to be around. And all those things that you’re looking for in a football coach are important, but even more so what you’re looking for in the person. There’s no doubt in my mind, as we went through the process, that this was the right man for the job. He checked all of the boxes, he’s an individual that I’ve had the privilege of working with for eight years now and through the interview process really identified himself, sold himself on what he was going to do to bring this organization together, bring this football team together and lead us to a lot of success on the field and off the field. I’m very confident that through the process we found the right guy. That guy is Jim Tomsula. I’d like Jim to come up here now as 19th head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.”
Head Coach Jim Tomsula opening comments:
“I’m not a note guy, but I want to make sure I thank some people and we’ll get going and thank you both [Jed and Trent]. Obviously I’m very proud to be standing here right now. I understand that my journey is an unusual one. I completely understand that. My journey has taken my family on three continents and nothing has been the norm. So, I’m used to not normal and I’m very comfortable in not normal. I didn’t say I was not normal. But, as we go here, I have to thank [49ers CEO] Jed [York], the York family, a first-class family. [49ers president] Paraag [Marathe], all the guys back there, all our VPs in the building and [49ers general manager] Trent Baalke. I get it. I get the decision that these men just made. I get it. I accept it. I know what it is and I’m real excited about it, real excited about it. The other thing I want to get in, I’ve got to thank my family. I’ve got to thank my Bear, my Brooke, my Britney and then there’s my Julie. That’s my world. I’ve got to thank my family and my mother and father and all of the extended family and what they’ve done for me and shown me and taught me in steel-mill country. I’ve got to thank all the coaches and the people that have taken a chance on Jim Tomsula and given him a shot. That was way back in 2007 when [former head coach of the NFL Europe’s London Monarchs] Lionel Taylor hired me in NFL Europe and I was the youngest guy in the D-Line room and I didn’t know I was on probation until training camp was over. All the way through and everything everybody’s taken the time to teach me. I’ve got to thank the players because players have affected my life dramatically. Football players have dramatically affected the lives of my children and my family. My daughters learned times tables in elevators in Scotland and Berlin from football players that jumped on the elevator and somebody would yell, ‘Six times six,’ or somebody else would yell something ‘sprecen sie Deutch.’ That was football players. We lived with football players for eight, nine years. We lived year after year in a hotel with football players and it was tremendous, it was awesome, it was so special. And for my daughters, my daughters, to be raised around and amongst football players was great and I want to make sure I say that. And, football players, guys would always say, ‘Hey coach thanks for teaching me that.’ Football players have taught me way more than I’ll ever teach them. I am that guy. You look at me. I didn’t play for the San Francisco 49ers. I did everything that I could to get on the field at Division II. And, I am in awe in the skillset and the things that these men can do and the way they fight through things and the determination and all those qualities that you admire and the way that they go through it. So, I have to thank the football players. And last I’ve always got to thank God. I’m very grateful. So, there’s my thanks, there’s my deal. As we go through here with the San Francisco 49ers and we talk about the organization that these men have built and ladies have built, what a village. I’m that guy that’s into the village. I believe it takes a village. I believe no one man does anything by himself. I think the strength is in the people around him and the way that people come together. My philosophies on life are about people and personal relationships and I think that is football. I think football puts you in position to really strain those things and tighten those things and play in those areas and you learn about yourself. When you look at our facility and you look at the work that’s done in the community with the community relations, the youth football programs and Make-a-Wish and all these different things raising money for fashion shows and all those things. That’s a great thing that’s going on with the 49ers. I know we’re here to talk about football and we’ll get to it, but I think all of this is part of it. All of this is part of why I’m so proud to be a part of this and what’s built. Joan in payroll. She’s not only in payroll, Joan’s my financial advisor. Joan’s making sure I’ve got enough money in my 401K. You go on and on and on. Vilma at the front desk. You’ve got all of these wonderful people in the building. The boys downstairs making that great Mexican feast at Christmas. There’s a whole lot that goes on inside this building that nobody knows about. So, with that, you really get an understanding and we all get an understanding of what we’re a part of. So, I’m going to tell you, with me, with the football, I take all that. I take all these people and all of these things that are going on. I understand the responsibility and I understand that people are counting on things to get done the right way, a certain way. I clearly understand the expectations of the ownership on and off the field. I clearly understand the expectations of the general manager. With that, it’s very exciting.”
Jim, can you talk about, the search has gone on for about two and a half weeks, just what you thought every time you would see a new candidate’s name surface and just your thoughts on whether you’d get this job or not.
JT: “[San Jose Mercury News writer] Cam [Inman] I’ll tell you what, my particular instance of it, I got some workouts, I got some film done and I got to see a lot of karate and I really enjoyed that part of it. But I’m not going to stand here and tell you that [he didn’t] try to stay off the [TV]. I told my wife I wasn’t exercising because the TV is in front of the elliptical. I didn’t want to sit there and look at it. Yeah, it’s something that, you know you go through life and sometimes you’re afraid to want something and you find yourself going into that ebb and flow. So, sometimes [I thought about it], but it was always honest. I can’t say [there was] a lot of communication. There were meetings and I knew they were on the road. I didn’t ask where, nobody told me where.”
Trent, how does this move make the 49ers a better team?
TB: “Well, it’s a process, [Comcast SportsNet reporter] Matt [Maiocco], and we said all along that finding the right guy for this job was the most important thing. And Jim is a… I can’t say enough about the things we talked about, looking for the pedigree, looking for the work ethic, looking for the leadership, looking for everything that that man in that position brings to the table, and [we are] very confident that what he brings to the table will galvanize this football team and allow us to take the next step.”
Jed has made it pretty clear that the standard for success means winning a Super Bowl and also winning with class, so I want to ask you will this team win the Super Bowl a year from now and what’s your definition of winning with class?
JT: “I’m not going to sidestep you, OK? I’m not going to write a check, OK? I’m not going to tell you, I’d rather show you. I’d rather do it. I’d rather work towards it. All our efforts will go into that, but clearly, clearly everybody in that locker room understands what the expectation is. I think, and again I look at that, and my boss is right here so you can tell me, but I look at that answer and I look at that expectation of winning a Super Bowl every year and I don’t know that anybody goes into an NFL season not wanting and expecting to go win the Super Bowl. Owners want Super Bowls and I understand that. This franchise has quite a few and yeah, I got it, tough act to follow. I understand that, fully understand that. I fully understand that that’s what’s wanted and anything short of that, we did not achieve what we were expecting to achieve. Now, winning with class, one statement that comes to mind for me is the difference between confidence and arrogance is ignorance. So, the way you carry yourself is a fine line of crossing from confident to arrogant and I think sometimes we teeter on that, especially today in our world. Confident people, to me, they dance on that line too much. So, I think that’s the first step of winning with class. Second step of winning with class is how you conduct yourself, OK? A lot of people say the speed of the game is the biggest difference between college and pro football. I happen to disagree. I think it’s the speed of life. Young people with so much, so fast and being able to handle it and being able to channel it and having people around them to guide, to advise, to care. So, those factors there, which I will say was a big part of my interview and proactive approaches to things and things that our organization is doing and the ways things are going that way and that’s exciting and it’s all to benefit the players.”
Could I ask a follow up? As head coach, with LB Aldon Smith or DT Ray McDonald, would you have made different decisions than what the organization maybe has?
JT: “I don’t want to do that. I’m not going to answer your question there, just out of respect to everything.”
Congratulations, Jim. Can you tell me did you approach any of the former assistants on the staff about staying on and where are you as for filling out your staff right now?
JT: “Yes, ma’am. [I’m] in the process and yes and I’d rather not go any further. Well, I’m not going to go any deeper than that right now.”
Can you talk about your X’s and O’s philosophy? What type of defense do you want to run? What do you want to see on offense going forward?
JT: “My X’s and O’s philosophy are quite simply you build a team to a scheme. You go into the draft, you go into free agency and you acquire…you’re in the talent acquiring business, to a scheme, OK? And then I feel like the most thing is when that’s over, now you have to do a 180. And now, see I look at it from a personnel to fit a scheme. So, I’m looking at that scheme and I’m trying to fit the pieces. We don’t live in a perfect world, it’s not a perfect science. Things happen. People aren’t available. So, once we have that talent and we have those players, now we have to flip that and now we look at it, we want to take that scheme and fit it to the players. So to me, when you talk philosophical, that’s the way in building your schematics and building your approach to teaching and your building blocks, that’s where the…you have to have that latitude going in there to be able to… It’s a structure. We stay within our structure, but you have to have that latitude to be able to adapt and adjust your schematics to fit the players. So, I hope that answers your question.”
TB: “[Sacramento Bee writer] Matt [Barrows], I think somewhere in there, he said we’re going to run the football.”
Are you going to have a 3-4 or a 4-3 type of defense?
TB: “Yeah, our personnel is fit for that right now. We’ll go into that, but as we get coaching staffs and everybody together, we’ll move forward in those areas.”
Congratulations. You talked about your journey being not a normal one. What did you learn from some of those stops that have prepared you for this, and even some of odd jobs along the way working nights, some of those jobs?
TB: “Well, first thing I found out, I don’t want to be sappy, I know this is a football thing, but when you find somebody you love, hold on to them and don’t let them go. As long as you got them with you and you’re rolling, you’re going to be alright. So, that’s the first thing I learned. Second thing I learned is why not? Why not? Ok, why? Why not? Let’s go. Let’s do it. Take the step. Let’s go. All in, OK? But don’t be afraid to step in. Get up and look, step in. Jump in. Let’s go. All in. The magic tricks and all the fluff and stuff in life and all those things, football and anything you’re doing, outwork ‘em. That’s not just physical. That’s not just physical. I mean outwork them mentally, physically. Outwork people. Earn it. Earn it. We all love people that earn it. … Those feelings and people earn it every day and when you talk about them, your face beams. Earn it and get around people you love doing it with.”
Jed, you had Jim as your interim coach for one game in 2010. Is that when you first starting thinking maybe he was a head coaching candidate down the road? Just how involved were you in this process? Is this your pick?
JY: “This is our pick and I think that’s the most important thing. It’s our pick as the San Francisco 49ers. In terms of me, did I know Jim was going to be our head coach of the San Francisco 49ers? We talked to Jim yesterday around 11 a.m. I think there were always things in Jim that you saw that he had the potential to do that, but this was a long process to figure out over the last couple weeks who’s the right man to lead us and I think we made the right choice and I’m excited about it.”
You have talked about, as far as defensive line play, smashing the gap. It’s kind of the savage mentality, but obviously it’s football.
JT: “You’re going to get me in trouble there.”
But would you like to, when you look at your football team, and just see that kind of attitude under offense, all over defense? Is that, Trent mentioned running the ball, just kind of that physical nature that you preached as far as you teach your defensive line? Would you like to see that all over your football team?
JT: “Yes. Yes, I firmly believe that’s what the sport is, within the rules and safely, but with everything you have and aggressively as you can do it. With everything you have.”
Are you a big fan of power running?
JT: “I’m a big fan of running and however that needs to get done. Really, we all talk about the vertical pass, but it is pretty when you see two guys get together and knock that guy off the ball and the D-lineman knock the guy back into the gap. That is pretty too.”
Defense is your expertise. With that, what do you do for QB Colin Kaepernick? Do you bring someone in to work with him? What’s your plan and strategy for perfecting his game and making him a better quarterback?
JT: “Yes, ma’am. We’re going to have, not just Colin and not just the quarterbacks, but for everybody going through. Again, when you look at my background and I did coach offense, it was a long time ago and it was a split-back veer. Player development and teaching players and coaching players in skill development, I am passionate about that. I think that is very equally as important as the schematic itself. So, I believe that there’s got to be the balance there. I’m excited about the possibilities, the things we can do with Colin Kaepernick, how we can help him keep growing. Let’s not act like… that’s a really good football player. OK? That’s a really, really good football player. OK? So, we want to help him keep being good and keep getting better and he wants to do it. So, we’re excited.”
Dove-tailing on that question about Colin, how does he fit into your vision? Obviously, as you said, the last time you ran an offense it was a split-back veer, but he seems like he kind of changes the game a little bit as a dual-threat quarterback running, passing. You saw a different style of offense last year. What’s your vision of what he can do for this team going forward?
JT: “I think he can run. I think he can throw. I think he can change the pace of a game, change the speed of the game. I think he’s very intelligent. I think he can do a lot of things. When I put it all together, he can do a lot of things with his feet. He can do lot of things with his hands. He can do a lot of things with his arms. He can do a lot of things with his eyes. And he can do a lot of things with his brain. More so than a traditional quarterback, he does it with the lower body. Look at that, corral it and let’s accentuate those things as we continue to strengthen other areas, which we all have. Every player on the field has that.”
Do you get the sense, though, that he needs to maybe be unleashed a little bit more than he was last year going back to how he played his first couple of years in the league?
JT: “I want people to have fun playing football.”
You’ve been here, I believe, on the staff longer than anyone. You were here when this team was unsuccessful, very mediocre. You were here when a new coach came in and created a very successful environment and now, that environment has kind of imploded, or whatever. And I’m wondering what you take away from each of those head coaches that you’ve worked for and why do you think a coach was able to make such a difference in terms of wins and losses on the field and what do you take from each of those coaches you’ve worked for?
JT: “The first thing I’ll say to that question is, I have a great amount of respect for all those coaches, specifically those head coaches. I have a great amount of respect. But I also say, we talk about it a lot, we all take a bite of that sandwich. I understand the head coach is there. He’s that guy. He’s the point man. I understand that. I don’t think that when a team has struggles it’s all the head coach or it’s all the players or it’s all this. It’s everybody. Getting those things straightened out and just each individual taking responsibility of that. I don’t know that we imploded. I know it was not a good year. It’s not what we expect. It’s not what our fans expect. It’s not what you expect. It was not a good year. I don’t think it was an implosion. It wasn’t good.”
In 2011, when former head coach Jim Harbaugh was hired and the team took the leap forward, you were one of the few pieces of continuity there, what was the reason?
JT: “I’ll tell you the truth, the laugh that I had with it. I don’t have a pinpoint answer for that but the laugh I had with it was, all the guys, we were off. It was a lockout, so we were off. So, coaches couldn’t interact with players. So our players were getting together themselves. [It was] ownership, ownership from the players. They were getting together themselves and they were working out and they were over at San Jose State and they were I’m not sure where else. They were running some mountains and hills over there and they were doing it together. And I think there’s a couple reasons there. I think there was a bonding thing that kind of happened. It was like time away, time together. And they were doing it. And they had to do it. Just that group of guys together that were spearheading that and then the way you guys kept growing it. Every week more people would come. It morphed. They were really working hard and driving each other and having fun doing it. And when we came into training camp that year, you had a crew of guys, yeah, there were some X’s and O’s and playbook stuff we had to learn. Couldn’t learn that much. Couldn’t install the encyclopedia. But what was installed was nice and tight. The guys were so excited and the coaches there did a great job. A great job of getting it done and getting things installed. I think all that together, they had to do it. It was players, coaches, the schematics, but the overlying factor to me was the way those guys handled it. There were other teams during the lockout. Nobody saw each other. They were all wherever they were all over the country. They were all fired up when they got back from the lockout high-fiving, ‘Hey, how you doing?’, ‘You grew a beard?’. Our guys didn’t do that. We had a really large, good core of guys that stuck together for that.”
What makes coach Tomsula more worthy of the job today as opposed to four years ago?
JY: “Definitely more experience with being in this organization, being a leader within this organization. Again, this is a different search than what we did four years ago. It is a much more detailed, thorough search to figure out the right fit. But I think Jim Tomsula’s the type of guy that whether it was today, whether it was four years ago, whether it was 10 years ago, I think he would’ve been ready to step in and take the job. I think that’s his mindset. I don’t think he’s afraid to fail. I don’t know that he’s more ready today than ever before, but certainly more time and more experience and being in this organization, I don’t think that’s a negative in any way, shape or form.”
I understand your desire not to comment on any specific issues last year, but could you give you give us a sense for what your attitude is toward discipline on the team and whether you come down as more severe about that or less severe, and what the head coach’s role in those sorts of things is?
JT: “First of all, when we talk about discipline, to me, I see discipline as a good word. I think that the connotations we give to discipline is a negative connotation. It’s an action or a reaction to an action. Discipline to me is a way of life. We talk about it. Think big in small ways. I know it sounds petty, but it’s the way you handle a meeting, or on the road in the hotel, everybody, ‘Hey, pick up your stuff.’ I know that sounds really small, but it starts adding up. To me, it’s big picture stuff in real small ways. Pack your own bag for the game. Don’t forget your shoes. We’re talking elementary, but those are things that are big. Now when you talk about the overall picture with the discipline of the team, that’s been made very clear. That’s been made very clear to the team. Again, I’m not going to get into past incidents, but that’s not the way we’re going to conduct business moving forward. That’s been made very apparent. That has been made black and white. People do make mistakes. Things like that get handled accordingly. And I think one of the things that excites me about our organization is having the reaction to fit what it is, but also the proactive approach that our organization is doing. I’ve listened to a lot of revamping, rethinking. Obviously, a lot of literature and studies and things like that and things being in place – people put in place. We’re all aware of [vice president of football affairs] Keena Turner, everybody knows about Dr. Harry Edwards. Anyway, they’re great resources for the guys, and seeing what’s going on that way, and again, that’s internal stuff and we’ll leave that alone, but it’s really good to see.”
What was the thing you learned most there?
JT: “Honestly, I’ll tell you this. I lived in a hotel with my wife and daughters. My girls were young, one and three when we first went over. We lived in a hotel. Players everywhere, everywhere around, everywhere around us. From 25, at the beginning, 25 to 35 and good-looking athletes, young guys and football players. I guess it’s nine years, not one time did I ever have to ask a football player to watch his language or be a gentlemen around my family. So, I saw the first couple of years and then we started inviting guys when they were married, inviting their wives to come over for the season. And all of a sudden, things changed – guys the way they were acting and what they were doing. There was an expectation there, and you just really saw people meet expectations. So, if my expectation was here, they’d meet it. And if my expectation was here, it’d improve. And the expectation wasn’t just words, it was walking and talking and the way you do things. And lastly, it reconfirmed my opinion of I think everything in this world is personal relationships, it’s people. It’s people. It’s 100 percent people and how you act.”
G. COHN: Typically, when a team promotes a head coach from within the organization it’s a coordinator not a position coach. Why is Tomsula a better fit for the job than former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who was an extremely successful defensive coordinator here?
JY: “Again, we’re not going to talk about other people. But when you’re talking about Jim and why he’s the right guy, I think we’ve talked about leadership and talked about what Jim wants to do as a head coach. And I think what makes your head coach successful, is your head coach. You’re not the head coach of the defense. You’re not the head coach of the offense. You’re the head coach of the entire team. Jim’s experiences in coaching – what is, Jim is 46 years old? How many seasons?
JT: “Thirty one.”
JY: “Thirty one seasons of football. Two a year for what, eight, nine years?”
JY: “Being a head coach in different places, being on the offensive side and being on the defensive side, understanding how to coach as coaches and how to have the right game management, how to operate a game and how to operate an entire program, those are the skill sets, to me, that separated Jim Tomsula apart from any candidate that we talked to.”
Getting back to the offensive side if you could, you talk about the power run, obviously RB Frank Gore has been such a big part of this team for 10 years, have you had a chance to interact with Frank at all since you became the coach or talked to Colin? Those two guys on the defensive side have you had a chance to lure DT Justin Smith back?
JT: “No, no, no. Tonight, I just got the list so I can … Everything has been going crazy. You know how it is. I got the list of phone numbers to get calling the guys tonight and get going.”
How involved are you going to be in terms of who’s going to be on the team, who comes back? How involved are you going to be in the selection process?
JT: “The way I’ve seen it since I’ve been here and since we’ve been doing it together, it’s a group effort. Everybody collectively gets together and talks about the vision. We set the plan and we work from the plan. As a position coach I’m very involved in the guys who are in my room. I know that with coordinators and through the head coach and the general manager and the personnel department.”
TB: “I think we can also say is it’s going to be business as usual for the San Francisco 49ers. This is not going to operate any differently under Jim that it operated under coach Harbaugh before or even under coach Singletary before that. As Jim said, it’s going to be group decisions. At the end of the day somebody has to make the final decision. But, it’s a process. It’s a process that you go through. Anytime you’re acquiring anybody, whether that’s a coach, someone within the front office or a player, there’s a process to it and everybody needs to be involved in that process and then once you’ve talked it through you make the final decision and you make it work. I don’t see it operating any differently.”
Jed, will the reporting structure change at all versus what it was? I know both Harbaugh and Trent reported to you. Is that goin to remain the same with Jim?
JY: “No. Jim reported to Trent. It’s the same structure that it’s been going back.”
I heard Jim say the word or the phrase personal relationships a lot. Based on what he said, how important was familiarity and the relationship that you guys have had over the last eight years in this decision?
JY: “I’d be lying if I said that that didn’t play a factor. But, when we sat down originally and talked, we said you’re in the running for this. But, you need to understand, you need to think about not being the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers as well. Because, it’s nice to have familiarity, but you also see familiarity with things that might not be the perfect fit. And, I think that’s really a big piece of it. So, it’s nice to have familiarity, but that’s not what set Jim Tomsula apart from all the other candidates that we spoke to.”
For Trent, I think a lot of the fans are having trouble reconciling how well this team performed on defense in recent years, including this past year, and not retaining, I guess aside from Jim any of the defensive coaches. Why not bring Vic Fangio back or Ed Donatell back and some of those guys?
TB: “Well, [Sacramento Bee reporter] Matt [Barrows], there were discussions. There were discussions that were had throughout this process. I’m not going to get into all the specifics of each of those discussions. But, it’s just safe to assume that throughout those discussions we came to this conclusion. We feel very good about moving forward. We feel very good about the plan that we have moving forward, very confident in Jim and his abilities to pull that side of the ball together just as we do the entire staff. When you hire a head coach you’re hiring one man. One man can’t do this job. And I think Jim recognizes that as we all do. It’s going to take the village and it’s going to take a number of quality coaches to fill those roles. We’re in that process right now. Jim’s been working tirelessly. I don’t know if he’s slept last night. If he did he was texting me at 3:30 this morning. But, it’s a process that we’re going through. We’re going to find the best coaches we can possibly find. There’s no shortage of good coaches out there and there’s no shortage of good coaches that want to be a part of the San Francisco 49ers. And now it’s our job to go out there and find them and I feel confident that we’re going to be able to do that.”
Along those lines, whose staff is this going to be? There was a lot of talk last night that Trent you were calling the assistants. How are you guys going to work together? Does Jim have carte blanche to hire whomever he wants to his staff?
TB: “Well, there’s two parts to that question. We handled this situation much like we did the last situation which we were in four years ago. I felt a personal responsibility to those coaches because they were a part of the staff that Jim [Harbaugh] and I put together four years ago. So, I felt, once again, it was my job to call out, reach out to those coaches and visit with them. Didn’t’ want to do that on the phone, but in this business there’s a sense of urgency to things; for their sake and for ours. And through that process asked them to come in today, which the majority did, and we sat down face-to-face and went through everything. I think that’s what people lose sight of. This is a tough business, but there’s a human side to every decision and as you look to the families that are displaced oftentimes in this business you can’t help but hurt in some manner. So, to me the closure is getting in front of them, visiting with them, making sure that they know that we’re going to do everything possible to help them in any way that we can. As far as the second part, whose staff is this? It’s our staff. I get tired of the same questions all the time relative to whose got final say, whose pulling the trigger? We’re doing it. I can’t emphasize that enough. Not one person is going to make every decision in this building. There’s different people in different roles and at different times different people are going to be responsible for a final decision. The one thing I’m confident of is we’re going to do this together. We’re going to do it together from day one on. Jim has spent a lot of time on the phone, talking to coaches, gauging interest, setting up interviews, setting up discussions. Am I going to be a part of that process? Yes. Am I going to be the final decision maker? No. Jim is putting together a staff that he feels he can go out and work every day with because it’s tough business. You spend a lot of hours together. So, it isn’t always getting the best. It’s getting the best that can work together. That’s the goal. That’s the objective. Finding 17 people, 18 people, whatever that number is, that can really come together and get it done.”
Can I just ask Jim along those same lines, how difficult is it for you to have to part ways with a lot of guys that you’ve been on the staff with for four years and another person more than four years?
JT: “Yeah. I mean, you’ve seen this before. You know it. You’ve watched it. It’s hard, it is. But, it’s part of what we do and decisions are made by everybody and those decisions are made. We all try to have a level head and make those decisions the best that we can for ourselves and each other and then we move forward. It’s just what we have to do.”
Building on what’s been here since you’ve been here, can you just share one change that you’re looking forward to most as a head coach? What’s going to be unique to a Jim Tomsula team? What’s your imprint?
JT: “Let’s wait and see.”
When you talk about process and decision making, you added a lot of new pieces to your offense, is that some of the things that you’re thinking about now? You have the dynamic of senior veterans and young guys like Frank Gore and then you have TE Vernon Davis. Do you keep to the process? Do you keep these pieces and the dynamic that you have and teaching them and learning and get them to learn and move forward and continue to get better or do you start over?
JT: “The team dynamic, I think we’ve all experienced it, the team dynamic is the key to me. It’s not a collection of talent. It’s a team sport. So, that whole dynamic, we’ve all been a part of a team somewhere. Whether it was a team negotiating a deal, whether it was a team playing a sport, whether it was a group jazzercise class or yoga class, there’s always been that one where you’ve gone somewhere and you’ve walked out and said, ‘That was cool.’ Everybody kind of mixed right. You know what I mean? We’ve got these words, the culture, the chemistry. We’re always trying to put our hands on it. To me, that’s the magic of it and how these guys are. You were hitting it on the head I think when you stated some of the examples. When you look at Frank Gore and some of the other running backs and some of the guys coming back. There’s a neat dynamic there. It’s really cool. There’s a real cool dynamic there. When you look at other areas of the team you see some real neat dynamics and guys working together and guys doing things, they start finishing each other’s sentences, you know, that kind of stuff. So, yeah that’s a real cool thing. That’s an area I really want the guys to grab and go with. Have fun doing this. I know it’s hard. It’s hard work, but you know what I’m talking about. It’s fun when it’s rolling. And you get the boys and you’re going and you’re rolling, it’s fun and it’s allowed to be. Yeah it’s work, it’s a job. I get all that, but it’s the game of football. And when you’re a competitor, these guys are different. When you get these football players, we know their bodies are different and we know that they can do crazy things with their bodies, but these guys are different. There’s a competitive nature. There’s a competitiveness that it’s different, it’s cool, it’s really neat and when you watch it and you watch it before the game and the way they change and there’s a lot of that in the locker room. That’s what really makes these guys so special.”
I assumed you didn’t miss throughout the season the reports that Jim Harbaugh was on his way out, that he had lost the locker room and also reports that you were in line maybe to be the next coach. What did you think about those reports? Do you think they destabilized the team and this season and what did that do to your relationship with Jim Harbaugh and maybe with Vic Fangio?
JT: “I don’t think that had any effect on my relationship with either one of those guys. I don’t think there was an effect on it. Nobody can control what people write or speculate or do.”
Did you think they were bad?
JT: “I thought it was terrible. But, I mean what are you going to do. How do you stop it.
It turned out to all be true.
JT: “I don’t know. I didn’t read them all.”
You’re sitting up there.
JT: “Yeah, I’m sitting here, but I didn’t read them. I don’t know all the dynamics of all those things. I wasn’t a part of that so I can’t [speak to it].”
When your name was mentioned, what were you thinking?
JT: “That was just terribly uncomfortable, obviously. It was terribly uncomfortable. I wish whoever wrote it wouldn’t have wrote it or whoever said it wouldn’t have said it. I can’t sit up here and tell you. What am I going to do about it? There’s nothing I can do about it.”
Have you talked to Harbaugh recently?
JT: “No I haven’t. I have not.”
Trent and Jed, Jim spoke specifically about proactive approach in his interviews with you two in terms of cleaning up maybe some of the things that have happened off the field. What did he offer that kind of sold you on that front and can it be as simple as guys taking responsibility for picking up their shoes and some of those basic things?
JY: “Again, Jim is our head coach not because of one specific answer. It’s because of the body of work and everything that he had and put together. In terms of things like that, it sounds juvenile to say guys picking up their trash in the locker room helps create a culture that doesn’t have off-the-field issues, it does. But, you look back in history, you look at New York City, there was crime ridden in the 1980s and you look at what the people did there of fixing broken windows, fixing graffiti, fixing little things like that and it’s amazing how that has a big effect on a larger issue and larger violent crime. So, you look at those things, little things matter. When you’re talking about winning a Super Bowl, it’s not about having the most innovative scheme on this side of the ball or that side of the ball. It’s not about having the best player here. In basketball, one player that’s 20 percent of your team. That makes a big difference. One player in football, that’s 1/22nd of your team, 1/25th, 1/30th when you’re talking about special teams and guys that really contribute on a daily basis. So, it’s a bunch of collections of little things that make the difference. And I think that’s the level of accountability and responsibility that Jim takes with this and understanding that those little details all add up. So, it wasn’t just one specific answer. A lot of people can say, ‘Well this is what I’d do and this is what I’d do.’ You actually got to see it with Jim and you get to see it in his resume and you get to see it going all the way back. Again, it’s a process, it’s a collection of data, it’s making sure you do the right research and the right homework. It ultimately culminated in Jim Tomsula being the 17thand now the 19th head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.”
JT: “I’m going to apologize to Jed. That was a remedial example that I made. I’m sorry for that. But, you know just trying to make the point of doing the little things correctly.”
TB: “I’d like to add something to that because I think one thing to keep in mind is that the structure that we had in place, I don’t want people to leave here thinking is that because coach Harbaugh is no longer here, all of these things are going to change, or that he was the cause of this. That’s not where this is going. As we look at this from a structural perspective and an organizational perspective, there’s things that we need to do better, that I need to do better. This isn’t about one individual, this is about the team once again. This is about each and every player holding themselves accountable, each and every person on the staff holding themselves accountable. Let’s not try to put this one person’s lap because that’s not at all what we’re trying to do. We’re looking at this from an organizational perspective with the understanding that we all, and I emphasize that we all have to do a better job and that starts with me.”
JY: “It starts with me.”
TB: “Yeah, it starts with you.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think a lot of successful NFL head coaches come from defensive line. First off, why do you think that’s the case and secondly, what makes you different?
JT: “I don’t know the facts to support that, so I can’t comment on that part. I don’t know any defensive line coaches, where people started in their coaching careers. I’ve coached linebackers. I ran the special teams for eight or nine years in NFL Europe and in college. I’ve coached the offensive line. In the international player development, yes, I’ve actually coached quarterbacks and running backs and taught people how to hold the ball and run the ball and with which hand to have the ball in and receivers on how to stand and stem and break. I’ve had to teach all those. That was part of what we did in the NFL Europe. I didn’t teach John Elway how to throw a football or Joe Montana or Steve Young, but just the mechanics of it and understanding it, I’ve had my hands on all that. So, well-rounded, can always go back to the personal relationships, taking information and teaching it to someone and part of the magic of teaching to me is the pupil. All the pupils are different, so the approach has to be able to change and you have to be able to be able to be fluid in what you do. I used [NT] Ian Williams and [DT] Glenn Dorsey and [DT] Quinton Dial this year playing the nose guard position. Three completely different body types. Three completely different players. I coach all three different to achieve the same job because they all have a different skill set. So, we’re always trying to enhance what they do, what they do best and then bring up the areas that are lacking. We’re trying to make you better there, but I would say Ian Williams and Glenn Dorsey, that pair there, those two guys playing the nose guard position, I’d dare tell anybody that’s two of the best guys in the middle you’re going to see and then Quinton Dial coming in with his body type being completely different and how hard he worked at that and he plays it completely different than those guys. And then you go back to Isaac Sopoaga and Aubrayo Franklin, you go, ‘All these guys play different, but we get the desired result.’ You’re in the season and you say, ‘Wow, those guys are playing really well.’ So you don’t like to make comparisons and that’s why you don’t like to compare players. It’s very easy for people to try to compare our linebackers, compare our running backs. That’s all unfair to me. Everybody has different skill sets and when I’m talking about teaching, I’m looking at what is it and how do you get there and being able to be fluid in that road to get where you need to be.”