Saturday, January 08, 2011

Coaching Carousel

I’m pleased with the Niners hiring of Jim Harbaugh. He was my first choice: he’s done well at Stanford and was a smart quarterback during his time in the league. However a knowledgeable NFL follower can tell that there are still significant issues by the bay. Ownership is still highly suspect. Admittedly the situation has improved since the clueless skinflint John York turned operations over to his 27 year old son Jed. There is no way the old regime would have paid a coach a cool five million a year. However I am less excited about the promotion of Trent Baalke to GM. They made a big production of consulting Jed’s uncle – the man who made the 49ers, Eddie Debartolo – but only really did a cursory search before promoting Baalke. Much more alarming was that their second choice should they not get Harbaugh was Josh McDaniels who singlehandedly dismantled the Broncos over the last two seasons (remarkably McDaniels declined – showing how little he has learned and arrogant he remains). My second choice would have been Perry Fewell, the Giants defensive coordinator. He turned their D around and was good in Buffalo before that. San Fran actually did interview him, but probably it was just to interview a black candidate to satisfy the Rooney Rule – I don’t think he had a real chance (although they also interviewed the Raiders offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who I did not want, so who knows).

Not that my Niners have a monopoly on stupid ownership moves. Jim Harbaugh was also courted by the Miami Dolphins – who have not fired their current coach Tony Sparano. Their clumsy flirtation did culminated with them giving Sparano an extension. But how much authority can he command in the locker room next year? I bet he’s gone come 2012. I’d like to say that people will remember this and at least some NFL figures (the classier ones) will avoid working with Miami, but the truth is Gunther Cunningham returned to the Kansas City Chiefs as heir defensive coordinator just three years after he found out he’d been fired as headcoach by hearing about in the press (and he worked under the coach who replaced him). Big money has a way of trumping honor.

The Bungles also lived up their to name by keeping Marvin Lewis, he of the seven games below .500 record (18 wins in the last three seasons) and zero playoff wins in his eight years. He’s always let the inmates run the asylum.

But you never know when hope is the around the corner. At age 88 Bud Adams finally got it – flip-flopping at the last second and going with the quality coach (Jeff Fisher) over the immature quarterback (Vince Young).

So far we’ve seen no evidence that the potential lockout will keep teams from hiring new coaches for fear of having to pay them not to coach next year (although maybe that is why some kept their jobs – Bungles owner Mike Brown is cheap, maybe that explains it). Meanwhile John Fox is currently out of the league…


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