49ers' Jim Tomsula under pressure to win right away


The San Francisco 49ers had their man all along.

Tucked away as a well-liked assistant under previous hires Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary and Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tomsula on Wednesday was handed the head-coaching reins of the organization he's worked for since 2007.

It's a pleasant, home-cooked narrative, but the result is surprising after the Niners came close to hiring Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.

Gase would have made plenty of sense for a franchise anchored to the development of quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Instead, Harbaugh and creative play-caller Greg Roman have been shuffled out in favor of Tomsula, the team's longtime defensive line aide. We'd like to call the hire a safe pick, but outside of serving as a one-game interim coach for the fired Singletary in 2010, Tomsula's only head-coaching experience came with the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe in 2006.

Nine years later, Tomsula is under plenty of pressure to succeed right away. On both sides of the ball. With a pair of new coordinators.

Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News spoke to multiple sources for hints on who Tomsula might bring in as his offensive coordinator. "No firm answers" was a common reply.

On defense, coordinator Vic Fangio is expected to depart, per Rapoport. Word is the Niners already were preparing for the loss of their talented defensive play-caller, leaving Tomsula to rebuild his coaching roster from the ground up.

The defense has plenty of talent, but whoever takes over on offense is in for a series of challenges. The future of running back Frank Gore, wideout Michael Crabtree -- both free agents -- and tight end Vernon Davis are entirely uncertain. At a time when Kaepernick should be surrounded with a wave of weapons, some of his most reliable targets might be on the way out. All of this unfolds behind an offensive line that isn't what it was two seasons ago.

We know Tomsula is beloved inside team walls, but his run with the 49ers will be brief if these issues -- primarily on offense -- aren't successfully addressed out of the gate.

"The guys in the locker room really like (Tomsula)," CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco told NFL Network on Wednesday. "But coming off the Jim Harbaugh era, I think this is a pretty tough sell for (owner) Jed York and (general manager) Trent Baalke to make to the team's fan base."

When you swing for the fences -- parting ways with a unique and winning leader such as Harbaugh -- you better have a plan. This feels more like Plan B. 

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