Jim Tomsula received the opportunity of a lifetime when he was promoted to the head-coach position of the 49ers. But this isn't your daddy's Niners. It's not even Jim Harbaugh's.
Tomsula spoke passionately about Smith in his news conference announcing the team's decision, stressing that Smith would not walk the path to recovery alone, even if he was no longer employed by the 49ers. It was a powerful moment, and the clearest sign yet that the front office got it right in choosing to elevate Tomsula.
But make no mistake: Tomsula has been left with a mess -- and it got worse with Smith's latest public stumble. The 49ers desperately needed Smith to help carry a defense in hurried transition following the offseason defection of several key players.
Let's now provide another brief refresher -- our third of the past several months -- on all that's gone wrong for the 49ers since the end of last season.
» Longtime defensive lineman Justin Smith retired. (This was somewhat expected, which you could almost count as good news.)
And now Smith, who clearly has a very real problem with alcohol and might just lose football because of it. The 49ers shouldn't be lampooned for their patience with Smith (one of the NFL's best pure pass rushers when right), but they also can't pretend to be stunned that their loyalty has gone unrewarded.
Tomsula landed his dream job precisely at the time Murphy's Law took hold in San Francisco. The coach will tell the media and fans he has no doubt he can win with the players left in-house. But the 49ers have simply lost too much to be seen as a credible contender.
Consider it the latest reminder of how quickly change comes in the NFL.