49ers could be looking for young offensive specialist to succeed Harbaugh

Getty Images

With all the talk about Jim Harbaugh’s future, hardly any time has been spent on the question of who will replace him in San Francisco.

Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that the team is expected to look for a young offensive specialist to take over the team.  Mort specifically mentioned Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

The last time the job was open, the 49ers tried the opposite approach.  As Bill Parcells discloses in his new book, the 49ers tried to hire the then-69-year-old defensive specialist to coach the team in 2011.

From 2009 to 2010, McDaniels coached the Broncos to an 11-17 record.  In a stint perhaps best known for the selection of Tim Tebow with a first-round pick, a 5-17 slide after a 6-0 start greased the skids for McDaniels’ termination with four games left in his second season.

But McDaniels has recovered nicely.  Despite coach Bill Belichick’s background as a defensive guru, it’s Belichick and not McDaniels who has gotten the credit for a masterful run of offensive game plans (with the exception of the loss at Lambeau) since the team fell to 2-2 after a Monday night blowout in Kansas City.

It has been believed that 49ers defensive line coach Jim Tomsula has the early inside track to the job, in large part because Tomsula was pegged to take over for Harbaugh if he’d been traded to the Browns in February.  With the offensive side of the ball needing a kick in the pants, maybe the change of plans makes sense.

The 49ers also will be looking for someone who can get along well with G.M. Trent Baalke, who somehow has escaped scrutiny for the team’s collapse in 2014.  If, as it appears, Baalke will be back, a far bigger factor than X’s and O’s will be whether the new coach can work and play well with his boss.

82 responses to “49ers could be looking for young offensive specialist to succeed Harbaugh

  1. I still think we should get rid of Baalke before Harbaugh. Baalke swung and missed horribly on the Jimmy Ward pick and Ward could’ve been picked in the 4th round. Don’t find to many even almost as good as Harbaugh and you have to take the good with the bad especially after how horrible we were before Harbaugh came along.

  2. I’d love to see Harbaugh and the Niners agree to a contract extension just to troll all the sports writers who waste so much ink speculating on what Harbaugh’s going to do.

  3. “The 49ers also will be looking for someone who can get along well with G.M. Trent Baalke.”

    Good luck.

  4. Mike Shanahan would be perfect for Kaepernick. He’s the best offensive mind that has the ability to turn mobile QBs into efficient accurate pocket passers(See Steve Young, Elway, and RGIII). His problem has been on the defensive side of the ball. With Fangio they’ll dominate the NFC West.

    Shanahan will move the pocket, install that outside stretch zone running scheme, run all kinds of play action bootlegs and waggles off it. He’ll have Kap amongst the NFL elites.

  5. As a lifelong 49ers fan I will say this: Ownership should try to swallow their pride and fix things with Coach Harbaugh.

    However, since it seems inevitable, I would not mind a Josh McDaniels hire. Most will point to his failure in Denver, but, should that permanently keep him from another opportunity? No! absolutely not, Bill Belichick failed at his first gig, Pete Carroll failed miserably at his first two, look at them now! McDaniels is widely reported to be the only coach on NE’s staff to actually have Belichick’s ear when it comes to strategy, as long as the front office doesn’t give him the unchecked control he had in Denver and can maintain a solid DC (Tomsula) then I think it would be a great hire.

  6. “… G.M. Trent Baalke, who somehow has escaped scrutiny for the team’s collapse in 2014. ”

    Bit of an odd jab don’t ya think Florio?

    It should be noted that not a single beat writer to include Maiocco, Barrows, Inman or others have ever mentioned or reported just how much pull Harbaugh had on offensive draft picks. The drafting of LMJ (currently serving on the Dolphins’ PS) was a very questionable pick due to his size which is a sign that LMJ wasn’t necessarily a Baalke preference. Baalke definitely whiffed on Vance McDonald who is either (a) a bad receiving TE or (b) injury prone. He’s a bust through and through.

    Defensively Baalke has been spot on and you have to wonder if this is due to input from DC Fangio who somehow kept that defense afloat and winning more games for that team than should’ve been won. Much of this could be why the org feels very comfortable in letting JH go because it’s likely Harbaugh is a very poor evaluator of talent…….so far he’s been completely wrong about Jonathan Martin (Stanford), Sherman (Stanford) and Baldwin (Stanford). If fans want to know why Harbaugh is going it’s because collectively the Org believes Harbaugh is very poor at evaluating and developing offensive talent AND it’s likely the team believes the offense is really no better than the Jimmy Raye days.

  7. Why would you look to hire a coach who can get along with Baalke?…He (Baalke) has nothing to do with winning…Smart move coach Harbaugh get the heck out of that place…..

  8. Both Adam Gase and Josh McDaniels names have been listed in media in the Bay Area as you report. Also Cleveland Browns OC Kyle Shanahan is being mentioned. All three are young offensive specialists. Hope at least one can get along well with Trent Baalke and Jed York.

  9. I will drive McDoosh to SF if you hire him. Guy is way,way,way, over rated. Tom Brady has made a lot of lousy coaches a lot of money. Weiss has made $65m since he left NE.

  10. McDaniels has done a good job with the Patriots offense. While his quarterback is top flight, the running backs and wide receivers are good but not great.

    The 49ers need someone who can get Colin Kaepernick back on track. He’s their most valuable asset.


  11. The problem is not Roman. G Roman and Harbaugh took the NFL world by storm by running their 22 personnel with Delanie Walker and V Davis. With those two TEs they had the ability to run over teams as well as stretch the field. They lost some key pieces of their 22 personnel like Delanie Walker and Baalke hasn’t been able to replace those pieces. I mean how do your replace Delanie Walker with Vance Macdonald even if he maxed out on his potential he wouldnt be able to stretch the field like D Walker. Baalke can’t really draft offensive players and that’s what hurt Harbaugh in the long run.

  12. I love it how they were horrible for soon many years then JH comes in and makes them relevant. MGMT is why they stunk before and why they will again after countless coaches come and go striving to get back to where they were.

  13. I agree with 7ftgriff (sp), the owners should swallow their pride which it appears they won’t, the only winners in this are the she hawks…seriously they must be loving this. I wonder if they don’t get Fangio as HC, would he leave with Harbaugh? York, this is your mess, keep Fangio if you can’t work it out with Harbaugh. Go Niners

  14. McDaniels play calling this year has been suspect at best and awful a substantial portion of the time. He’s had about 4 good games out of 14.

    Not too many Pats fans would miss him.

  15. We’ve seen time and time again where hotshot coordinators fail spectacularly when getting promoted to a head coach position. It takes a very different set of skills and I don’t think someone like McDaniels has what it takes, at least not at this point in his career.

  16. Gase and McDaniel may very well be good offensive minds, but succeeding with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady at QB certainly doesn’t prove that you are.

    I’d probably give Gus Malzahn or Art Briles a call before either Gase or McDaniel.

  17. Fans who think this is a matter of “just swallow their pride” are delusional AT BEST.

    This matter is much, much deeper than just management having their feathers ruffled. And the majority of fans who balk at such an event are completely in the dark about basic working relationships.

    The FACT exist that there are personalities that exist (like Harbaugh’s) who NEED to have conflict constantly as a matter to keep them successful and often time this will even come about by just producing conflict. Hint……it happens with some personal relationships all the time.

    There’s ZERO guarantee that Harbaugh would even be a continued success with the 49ers. He’s shown little to no ability to offensively counter a growing Seattle problem. It’s the defense alone that has kept that team competitive. Harbaugh’s influence on that team was more mental than tactical…………and the real question should be “why aren’t other teams more skeptical about why his current org is so ready to dispose of him?” Well……..they’ll know in about 2 years!

  18. Please take Joe Lombardi he’s like a offensive genius/guru. Look at the dynamic offense he’s created in Detroit with the likes of Megatron, Tate, Ebron, 4ea, Bell and Bush. I mean sure there are 15 run a game up the gut for no gain but you have to look past all that. Trust me he’s awesome plus he came from the Saints and they are totally awesome too.

    Go Lions

  19. Jed York & Trent balke = Dan Snyder & vinny cerrato. 49er fans get ready for below .500 football and fantasy football picks while the rest of the division laps you by all because your front office wants coaching staff and management to play nice. Remember that Eddie d and bill Walsh didn’t get along yet despite that they were able to work around their differences and win Super Bowls. Apparently jed York wants to go back to the mike Singletary and mike Nolan days. It was Scott mcglooughlin that built the current roster not Trent Balke.

  20. I thought you guys promised how much better everything would be with a “real GM” and mocked and laughed at Cowboys fans everywhere because we do not.


    A concerned Cowboys fan

  21. And back go the 49ers into a 5-11 team year in and year out.

    getting rid of a coach that brought 3 nfc championship games makes no sense.

  22. That sounds great. They need somebody that can help Kaepernick continue to develop and if you don’t have a veteran coach in mind that provides precisely what you are looking for, then I think it makes a lot of sense to find the next young and brilliant offensive mind to take the lead. The key is to find somebody that is a master of the logic of the X’s and O’s, because that person is going to be able to help both sides of the ball and to direct the coaches on both sides of the ball. The HC really should be an expert in all areas of the game, to be able to coach the players, to coach the coaches, to set the tone and vision, establish the culture, and to be sharp at making decisions that put the team in position to win.

    Every NFL team should strive to hire somebody that has a particularly comprehensive set of strategy skills.

  23. Why does everyone neglect to mention the offensive line injuries as the main reason for SF’s problems. Kaep is the most sacked QB of the season, no holes open for the RBs, etc…

    Seems so obvious.

  24. Mike Sanford from Boise State , took their offense from nowhere to the Fiesta Bowl this year and worked at Stanford when they were big winners…under Harbaugh and Shaw.

  25. No one mentioning Scott Linehan? He may have learned a thing or two since the fiasco in STL. He probably deserves another chance with a team that has talent, albeit aging.

  26. I think McDaniels gets a bad rap. He didn’t have much of a chance in Denver(less than 2 seasons), and probably wasn’t ready, illustrated by the fact he let players shoot their way out of town. Yes, Tebow was a huge gaffe. But he drafted him with one of the 3 pks(2 1rsts and a 2nd) he got for Cutler. Looks like he was right about him. He also got 2 2nds for talented , but coach killing BMarshall. He drafted DThomas, Decker, Beadles and Moreno.

    I think Pats fans need a little perspective on McDaniels play calling. They do lead the league in pts scored, in case you haven’t heard. They’re in the top 5 every yr. The offense is hard to defend because they do something different every week. Who do you think is responsible for that? Yeah, Brady’s a great player, but it’s not all about him. The skill players as a whole are just OK and the OL has mediocre talent, at best.

    I think it’s moot anyway. I think McDaniel has been told the Pats job is his, if he willing to wait for BB to retire or gets kicked upstairs.

  27. In San Diego we had a head coach who didn’t get along with the GM. So, after a 14-2 season, they fired the coach and replaced him with an offensive specialist / former head coach. And all that still never got us to the Super Bowl. The GM was fired a few years later, and is now working his magic as an executive at the Redskins….working out wonderfully. 49ers ownership really needs to think about what they’re doing. They will regret letting Harbaugh go.

  28. Why does everyone neglect to mention the offensive line injuries as the main reason for SF’s problems. Kaep is the most sacked QB of the season, no holes open for the RBs, etc…

    Seems so obvious.
    No, what is so obvious is that you are making excuses for your embarrassing team. The Seahawks have had to deal with offensive line injuries all season and look at their record.

    Go Hawks

  29. tedmurph;
    “I think it’s moot anyway. I think McDaniel has been told the Pats job is his, if he willing to wait for BB to retire or gets kicked upstairs.”
    Bingo, was just going to point that out.
    Foxboro would be the best place for McDaniels to resume head-coaching duties, I’m hoping that’s the way it plays out.

  30. @sdbolts-

    Until I read your comment, I had no idea Smith was with the Redskin Potatoes. Which is strange because the taters are clients of mine and I spend alot of time at Potato Park. Never seen him.

    It sure does explain alot though. LOL

  31. How Jim Tomsula is remotely being considered is beyond me….they do that the fan base will riot. Great guy but not a HC

  32. In Dallas, Callahan has built one of the most powerful and amazing offenses in NFL history. The 49ers should wait until after he’s finished with the Super Bowl to interview him.

  33. Any organization that thinks Trent Baalke is more important to hold on to than Jim Harbaugh deserves all the futility that will very soon be coming to them.

  34. xnihilofan says:
    Dec 20, 2014 10:58 AM


    I think you speak alot of truth.

    Offensive draft picks have been mediocre at best. Baalke picks ’em, but I think Jimbo gives alot of input of what he wants. And Jimbo is not a good evaluating talent.

    Also, Baalke and York may be still pissed at Jimbo for steering them away from R.Sherman.

    Niners picked Culliver in 3rd round, a decent pick, but he is no all-pro, nor a pro-bowler. While Sherman went to Seahawks in 5th Round.

    Think about that, the Seahawks picked up a MAJOR piece of their legendary Championship defense in the FIFTH round.

  35. pedrocreek says:
    Dec 20, 2014 12:46 PM

    No, what is so obvious is that you are making excuses for your embarrassing team. The Seahawks have had to deal with offensive line injuries all season and look at their record.

    Go Hawks

    Exactally! The Seahawks had a terrible O-Line last year and actually won a championship with it. It is called coaching.


  36. Some research would help. Passing on Sherman had nothing to do with talent. It was about his big mouth. Also they attempted to sign Doug Baldwin as an UDFA and he felt he would get a better chance to play in Seattle. It had nothing at all to do with missed evaluations.

  37. 3yardsndust says:
    Dec 20, 2014 11:12 AM
    Kaepernick is terrible. Job #1 is trading that guy and getting a real QB.
    Trade him for Jay Cutler! That will solve all the problems for both teams! LOL….

  38. Its not Baalke vs Harbaugh, it is Paraag Marathe vs Harbaugh, which is worse. Marathe has more power than Baalke and less football knowledge.
    For the new HC I think they will pass up the young pups and try to bring someone in with a history of coaching up a QB and put a strong offense on the field like a Mike Holmgren, Mike Shanahan, or Gary Kubiak. They have all coached HoF QB’s, bring proven offensive systems, and could be willing to adopt the current 49ers defensive staff. 3-4 years would be enough time to get Kaep right and have the heir apparent trained up and ready to take over. The niners do not exactly need to be a top 5 offense to win. Scoring mid 20’s each week would be enough to contend for a Superbowl with that defense.

  39. raiderlyfe510 says: Dec 20, 2014 10:52 AM

    Mike Shanahan would be perfect for Kaepernick.


    I never thought of him but now that you mention it I too believe he will be a great choice if he is still the Mike Shannahan I remember hating when he coached the Bronco’s.
    Both for the reasons you mention and the simple fact he has run a steady, well organized program before.

    I don’t know how much energy and enthusiasm Mike Shanahan still has but if isn’t getting too old he would be an excellent choice for a team not owned by a synder level hands on idiot.

    I’m not a familiar with the ’49 organization but since Harbaugh succeeded they can’t be Snyder bad.

  40. They could get a young Bill Walsh and it won’t matter…

    Baalke, has been the reason for the collapse…

    A.j. Jenkins ???????

    Jimmie Ward ??????

  41. I think it’s dumb to get Tomsula…over Fangio? If that’s the case then you know Fangio will leave. Who would want to be a DC when his HC was his lineman coach. One said that Harbaugh was a jerk maybe he is, he must have said something to York to get him mad and to Baalke as well. Right now they should think about Fangio, get some OC that can turn this offense around. Right now the Hawks are the team to beat with that D. I say this being a long time Niner fan. If we can turn this team around, keep the D as is (a task indeed) then we have a chance. Kaep, if they decide to keep him, needs to stop making mental mistake. Hawks, I give you props, but we’ll be back, Go Niners

  42. As a Broncos fan, please hire Josh McDaniels as that would weaken the Pats and keep our OC Adam Gase. Then, after Josh runs the 49ers into the ground (like he did the Broncos), he can return to the Pats in two years when Billichek retires.

  43. The real issue with this team is the ascension of Paraag Marathe to the president of operations. He is John Yorks puppet and tries to run the team like moneyball but without the track record of success.

    Google his bio on how he was brought in by Donahue to run the draft and then you will start to see that it isn’t all Balkes fault for poor drafting.

  44. When the 49ers drafted A.J. Jenkins in the first round in 2012 it was because wide receiver was the team’s biggest need. They brought in Jenkins, Braylon Edwards, and Randy Moss to try to solidify the position. None of those guys panned out. The next year they picked up Anquan Boldin. Boldin was a slow possession receiver 5 or 6 years ago. Right now he’s probably a 5.0 40 yard dash. Crabtree would be the 3rd or 4th WR on many teams. Boldin couldn’t make the roster on 30 of 32 teams.The 49ers don’t have any WRs that can get open. And everyone wonders why Kaepernick holds on to the ball so long. If A.J. Jenkins would have been an Odell Beckham type first round pick, Kaepernick probably would have two Super Bowl wins and the 49ers would be looking to three-peat this year. The last-minute losses to Seattle in those big games both came down to plays where they were going to Crabtree. Crabtree isn’t a #1 WR. He can’t make the winning play. Jenkins was a big time bust and the 49ers haven’t addressed it. It’s going to be hard to get a top young coach in hear if he has other options. The 49ers’ front office is getting the “coach-killer” label.

  45. Hire Tom Brady’s O.C. Hire Peyton Manning’s O.C. Hire Aaron Rodgers’ O.C. Oh yeah that’s right. Remember when Notre Dame hired Brady’s O.C. Charlie Weis? How’d that end up? Josh McDaniels? Give me a break. Remember when George Seifert retired with the all-time winningest record in NFL history? Well he went to coach Carolina a couple years later and got fired after going 1-15. Seifert was as good as any coach in History, but even he couldn’t win without the horses. Do you remember Bill Walsh’s first two seasons before Montana took over? He was 8-24. That’s a 25% winning record. The next year they put in Joe and won the Super Bowl. If I were the 49ers I’d hire someone like Gary Kubiak. He can coach and he won’t demand control of everything. Everyone will be happy.

  46. Remember when Houston hired Kubiak, Elway’s OC? Remember when he coached for 8 yrs and had a losing record? Rember when he lost 2 consecutive yrs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs with a hugely talented roster?

    But, I guess he can coach.

  47. Yes Baalke has had some bad picks (Jenkins, Taylor Mays), but his track record isn’t bad.

    Iupati, Antony Davis, Bowman, Kaep (regressed but wasn’t bad), Aldon, Culliver, Bruce Miller

    Get rid of Harbaugh (wish this wasn’t the case, but inevitable) and give him 2 years to see if he is actually the GM we think he is. Hire an Offensive minded coach (Gruden please) and see what happens. It couldn’t get worst then it is right now under Harbaugh right?

  48. It doesn’t matter which head coach we get if we don’t have an OC that can’t open up the offense. We have an awesome candidate for that position already employed. I believe that Tom Rathman would be ideal. Not only did he play for one of the best offensive minds of all time, but I’d be willing to BET that he would get the fullback involved in the running and passing game more and that would open up the passing game more. Also, I’m sure he still has his old play book to bring out of retirement!!

  49. Baalke is going to take the blame for this, but he’s not the one pushing Harbaugh out. This has the team president, Paraag Marathe’s, fingerprints all over it. Baalke came up under Parcells, so I doubt he’s letting personality clashes become that big that he’s pushing a good coach out.

  50. Thank you for mentioning Baalke’s role in the team’s collapse. His fingerprints are there but are a bit more faded because they go back a couple of years to the 2012 draft. Yes, the 2011 draft was a good one for the team, particularly on defense, but the void in offensive production this year can be traced to poor draft decisions in 2012. Most of those players are no longer with the team — AJ Jenkins, La Michael James for instance. Had we drafted well, especially at the receiver position, they would either be starters or pushing the starters out the door. He also hasn’t used the abundance of extra draft picks the past two years to select top level help at the receiving position.

  51. This is early entertainment at it’s best. Reading all of the armchair coach/GM’s on here. How many head coaches did we have before we had a successful one? That thought is downright scary. I don’t see this playing out well based on that. I hope I’m wrong. But I wasn’t wrong about George Seifert. I knew he would go to Carolina and stink. Harbaugh on the other hand will probably go win wherever he lands. My 2 cents is for Jed York to shut his pie hole and let his employees do their job.

  52. well said les49er, after this past game’s loss to the Chargers, I think we should just hit the delete button. But this has been the year in a nut shell. We do great in the 1st half, 2nd half we suck. Their D adjusts to our O, and Gore can’t find a hole any longer because their DC adjusted and our OC hasn’t. I am trying to give Kaep the benefit but last night was our D not stopping Philip. He kept converting 3rd downs. we blitzed but nothing, it just exposed our DB’s. Albeit, we had no starters on LB crew, missing tackles when we had their rb stopped for loss, he find a way to make it a 3 yard gain. Anyway, I know most will hate on Kaep, but last night, wasn’t his fault for this loss. It was a team loss this time. I may be in denial about Kaep, just don’t understand how you do great one year, and the next you take step backwards. Hope Harbaugh stays but we know that won’t happen, Go Niners

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!