Niners go with invigorating youth for D-line

Mike Nolan hired an old hand to join his coaching staff two days ago, and now he's hired a NFL newcomer. Nolan went for a shot of invigorating youth instead of proven experience for his next defensive line coach, announcing Tuesday that Jim Tomsula will join the 49ers in that position.

The 49ers pulled the trigger quickly on Tomsula, the only candidate interviewed by Nolan for the position, just like longtime coaching veteran Al Everest was the only person formally interviewed for the team's role of special teams coordinator, which was vacated when Larry Mac Duff left the 49ers on Jan. 7. Everest was hired to replace Mac Duff on Sunday.

Tomsula, one of the most successful coaches in recent NFL Europe history, will replace Gary Emanuel, San Francisco's defensive line coach the past two seasons before being fired Jan. 2 by Nolan, who also dismissed defensive coordinator Billy Davis on that date. Nolan continues to search for Davis' replacement, but probably will take a while before making that hire as he waits to see how things shake out in NFL coaching circles over the next few weeks.

Tomsula last season was head coach of the Rhein Fire, where he coached three players who were on the 49ers final roster in 2006 - offensive tackle Harvey Dahl, guard/center Tony Wragge and guard Nick Steitz. The Fire went 5-4 last year in Tomsula's only season with the team.

Tomsula became the youngest head coach in NFL Europe history with the Fire at age 38 in 2005. Before that, he served as defensive coordinator two seasons with the Berlin Thunder, where he won a World Bowl championship in 2004.

"Jim has a great track record of success in NFL Europe and has earned the opportunity to step up to the National Football League," Nolan said. "He is an outstanding teacher and he's had a great rapport with the players wherever he has coached. He has had success as a defensive line coach, defensive coordinator and head coach in NFL Europe, and he also has experience coaching numerous college all-star games."

Tomsula will have an opportunity to work with his new coaching partners in a hurry. Tomsula is joining Nolan's staff in time to contribute in his new role next week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, where the 49ers' staff is coaching the South squad for the second consecutive year. San Francisco's coaches leave Sunday for Mobile, where the week of Senior Bowl practices begin Monday.

Tomsula joined NFL Europe in 1998 as defensive line coach with the England Monarchs. He then had five seasons as defensive line coach with the Scottish Claymores, where he established a reputation for producing some of the most dominant lines in the league.

In his first season in charge of the Thunder defense, they led the league in rushing defense on their way to a victory over the Frankfurt Galaxy in World Bowl XII. The Galaxy also reached the World Bowl the next season.

Tomsula, who played college football at Catawba College in North Carolina after transferring from Middle Tennessee State, also has played a leading role in coaching young talent in the league's National Player Development program.

In other 49ers news:

--- The team has exercised its option to extend its lease to play at Monster Park in San Francisco through the 2011 season. The lease was set to expire at the end of the 2007 season. That will secure a home stadium for the 49ers while the team continues to develop plans to build a new stadium that the 49ers hope to debut for the start of the 2012 stadium. The 49ers currently are moving forward with plans to build a new stadium near the Great America amusement park in Santa Clara, where city council members recently voted unanimously to begin studying the team's proposal for a new stadium in their South Bay city, located about 45 miles south of Monster Park.

--- The 49ers re-signed second-year fullback Zak Keasey, who became a free agent last week when his practice-squad contract with the team expired. Keasey, who made the Washington Redskins' roster as an undrafted free agent in 2005 as a linebacker, made the transition to fullback with the 49ers last year. He was released at the final roster cutdown in September, then signed back to San Francisco's practice squad, where he was released in Week 2 but then was re-signed the next week before spending the rest of the season there with the team.

Niners Digest Top Stories