Tomsula wasn't hired to win press conferences

Jim Tomsula isn't polished. He isn't in familiar territory. He might not even know what he's doing yet. But Thursday's glimpse at his introductory press conference won't define him if he can bring the 49ers back to contention.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - If it wasn't apparent at Thursday's hour-long introduction, the 49ers didn't hire Jim Tomsula to win press conferences.

Tomsula was out of his element. That's not a surprise. San Francisco's 19th head coach doesn't have any experience as an NFL coordinator. Those guys meet with the media once a week from the start of training camp to the end of the season.

It's not an overly significant responsibility for coordinators. But it's one that aids the transition from coordinator to face of the franchise. Rest assured, as time goes on and Tomsula begins meeting with the media Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and after each game, the bumbles and stumbles will become coherent and cohesive.

Tomsula is incredibly personable, genuine, and, perhaps most importantly, a head coach players will fight for. Trent Baalke and Jed York hope so, anyway.

It's been written about before but it's worth pointing out again. Tomsula is the antithesis of Jim Harbaugh in just about every way. And considering the way the last two weeks have unfolded, the 49ers brass wouldn't have it otherwise.

Baalke and York executed all the witnesses who saw Harbaugh's apparent crimes against the organization. Not literally, of course. But Vic Fangio, Ed Donatell, Greg Roman, Jim Leavitt, and more are all coaching elsewhere after turning San Francisco into a power house in 2011. The last two weeks have been reminiscent of a scene from "The Wire" or "The Godfather." The tenures of those assistant coaches are in body bags.

And after promising this process would be a reload and not a complete rebuild, it looks as though Baalke has done everything he can to rid Harbaugh's smell from the walls of Levi's Stadium and the team's facility.

With the exception of quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst, who is reportedly sticking around to continue his development of Colin Kaepernick, the only major coaches that remain from Harbaugh's tenure are Tomsula and running backs coach Tom Rathman. And both of those guys were around before Harbaugh even got there.

There were very few, if any, notable developments from Thursday's press event.

We do know the 49ers will be physical, which might be something they steered away from slightly in 2014, particularly on offense.

"I firmly believe that's what the sport is, within the rules and safely, but (play) with everything you have and aggressively as you can do it. With everything you have," Tomsula said.

To judge Tomsula as a head coach now is putting the cart before the horse. There will be numerous media opportunities for Tomsula to refine his public speaking and give fans reassurance lacking Thursday. When the season kicks off in September, the last thing on fans' minds will be his introductory press conference from January the fifteenth.

The next bad word said about Tomsula, the person, might be the first. There's is no doubt about that, particularly when hearing the glowing remarks from current players and former 49ers over social media. It's been his ability to teach that made him the dead-giveaway candidate when York mentioned how badly he wanted a "teacher" after parting with Harbaugh.

"In all of that, he’s been able to learn and get better from guys," defensive lineman Ian Williams said. "He learned from football players – guys like Justin (Smith) and Patrick (Willis) and Bo (NaVorro Bowman) – he’s learned from guys and he’s able to put it in a body of work that made everything better.”

If creating a championship football team was about finding a guy that could make the most players happy and wanting to give maximum effort, Tomsula would be raising the Lombardi Trophy next February in Levi's Stadium. But in reality, football isn't a nice guy's game.

Tomsula is more than a nice guy. He's an excellent football coach, as he's proven during his eight seasons coaching the defensive line. Just watching him with his group of players at practice illustrates his tenacity and willingness to let guys know when they aren't playing well enough. He has that in him, no question.

But what we don't know, even after his one year as head coach of NFL Europe's Rhein Fire in 2006, is if he has the tactical ability to manage the clock on a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. To decide whether or not to kick a long field goal on fourth-and-2 from the opponents' 33 or make the aggressive play and go for the first down. To throw the challenge flag with the opposition hurrying to the line to get the next play off before it can be reviewed.

There are tactical questions about knowing his team and putting it in positions to win games that simply cannot be answered until the 49ers take the field in September.

That's the point. We weren't going to know anything about Tomsula's ability to become a head coach Thursday. We were there to see how a novice to the limelight would handle a room full of media members, players, executives, television cameras and family members wondering if he was capable of replacing a coach that had his team in championship contention for three straight seasons.

Harbaugh's success was unprecedented. And now the position is unprecedented for Tomsula. That's true for any first-time head coach, to be fair. But Tomsula doesn't have that extra seasoning as a coordinator that helps prepare for situations like Thursday.

The most practical football-related answer we got from auditorium at Levi's Stadium was from Baalke, who piggy-backed an uncomfortable answer about X's and O's from Tomsula, saying "Matt (Barrows), I think somewhere in there, he said we're going to run the football."

Next story:

49ers choose Tomsula to become head coach

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