This is my Thursday column.
Beware of the names.
Every year, the same ones seem to pop up as NFL teams start looking for head coaches. All of a sudden these names appear everywhere, and they’re names of people who want to coach your team. Desperate people who will do you harm if you let them near your building.
These are the names the 49ers should avoid as they search for their next head coach.
Name 1: Mike Holmgren.
Don’t answer his phone calls. Don’t respond to his e-mails. Don’t encourage him.
No one is more desperate to be the 49ers’ head coach than Mike Holmgren. On Dec. 28, before Jim Tomsula even got fired, Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated tweeted this: “Per source, Mike Holmgren has, for the second time in as many years, expressed interest in the 49ers HC job.”
This should automatically disqualify Holmgren. Campaigning for a job before it’s available is dishonorable and weak, exactly what many around the league believe Tomsula did to Jim Harbaugh. Since when did Holmgren have to stoop to the Tomsula level?
And why does Holmgren want to coach only the 49ers? Why hasn’t he reached out to other teams? How badly does he really want to coach? Why hasn’t he coached since 2008? Is the San-Francisco native trying to take advantage of his hometown team?
Name 2: Mike Shanahan.
“2 unemployed names to watch: Mike Shanahan & Chip Kelly,” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweeted on Jan. 4. “As Mike Silver said, both expressed interest in 49ers.”
We’ll get to Kelly later. For now, let’s talk Shanahan.
Shanahan seemed on the verge of a Hall of Fame coaching career back in 1999 after winning back-to-back Super Bowls as head coach of the Denver Broncos. He also won a Super Bowl as the offensive coordinator for the Niners when Steve Young was the quarterback.
In Denver, Shanahan won his rings with John Elway at quarterback. Since Elway retired, Shanahan’s win-loss record is 115-109, and he has won just one playoff game. Ordinary.
Shanahan was good with Hall of Fame quarterbacks. He never has developed a young one. During his most recent job as head coach of the Washington Redskins, he ruined Robert Griffin’s promising career by making him play with an injured knee.
Name 3: Chip Kelly.
I promised we’d get to this guy. Here’s what ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted about Chip Kelly on January 4: “Kelly’s camp has reached out to 49ers to express interest in their HC opening, per a league source.”
Kelly’s camp? Is that a fancy way of saying his agent? Or is Kelly in a street gang with people who snap their fingers as they sing and dance like the Jets in West Side Story?
Picture his camp sitting in a little treehouse with cigarettes rolled in their sleeves as they discuss which NFL teams are desperate enough to consider Kelly.
Kelly is a flop. He failed as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. His players apparently hated him and eventually stopped playing for him. Kelly is no leader of men — he’s a leader of children. He should return to college football.
Name 4: Hue Jackson.
To his credit, Hue Jackson has not publicly expressed interest in the 49ers — it’s the Niners who are interested in him. They’ve officially requested to interview the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator, according to Mike Silver of NFL.com.
Jackson is a hot name. His offense ranks 15th in total yards and seventh in points this season, and his quarterback, Andy Dalton, had a career-high passer rating of 106.2 before he broke his thumb.
Jackson is a quality offensive coordinator. But, is he a quality head coach?
Some people say he is, citing his 8-8 record as head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2011. No Raiders coach has won more than eight games in a season since Bill Callahan won 11 games in 2002.
Here’s what you need to know: The Raiders were 8-8 under Tom Cable the season before Jackson took over. The Raiders did not improve under Jackson, and his players quit on him after 11 games.
Jackson’s Raiders started the season 7-4, then lost four of their final five games while getting outscored by 60 points. That’s poor coaching.
After the last game of the season, Jackson infamously passed the blame onto his players. “I’m pissed at my team,” he said. “In some point in time as a group of men you go in the game and you can say whatever you want about coaches, you win the game.”
That’s not how a leader acts. At that moment, Jackson revealed to the world what he really is — a phony.
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.