The 49ers on Wednesday made the unprecedented move of elevating their defensive line coach to head coach and hired Jim Tomsula to replace Jim Harbaugh.
Tomsula, who once described himself as “Jim Nobody from Nowhere” has served as the team’s defensive line coach since 2007. His promotion -- over defensive coordinator Vic Fangio -- almost certainly will lead to Fangio’s departure and a shakeup of the team’s defensive staff. Tomsula could hire former Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver to run his defense. It’s not yet known whom Tomsula will tap to be the offensive coordinator.
Tomsula, 46, served as the team’s interim head coach for one game in 2010, a 38-7 win over the Cardinals in the season finale that year. The 49ers hired Harbaugh a few weeks later, Before joining the 49ers, Tomsula spent eight years in NFL Europe, including as the head coach of the Rhein Fire in 2006.
The 49ers were believed to be eyeing Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase for the position. General manager Trent Baalke twice flew to Denver to meet with Gase, 36, but flew back to the Bay Area last night without him. The 49ers reportedly informed Gase this afternoon that they were going in another direction and would hire Tomsula.
Neither of the 49ers’ internal candidates, Fangio and Tomsula, generated much interest outside the organization this offseason. Washington requested to interview Fangio for its vacant defensive coordinator position, but the 49ers denied the request. Tomsula received no requests. Last year he interviewed for the Vikings job and the Browns also had interest in him and offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
In many ways, Tomsula is the opposite of Harbaugh, whose abrasive, antagonistic style rubbed many in the front office the wrong way. Tomsula is warm, talkative and is well-liked among his defensive linemen, and perhaps most important, CEO Jed York and Baalke.
In fact, in announcing the move, York used a lot of the same language -- “teacher” and “Winning with class” -- he and Baalke used heavily the day after the team parted ways with Harbaugh on Dec. 28.
“After conducting a thorough coaching search, and meeting with a number of outstanding candidates, Jim Tomsula clearly is the right man to lead this team,” York said in a statement. “Jim is a great teacher and a tremendous mentor who conducts himself with great class and integrity.”
“Our organization is excited to have Jim Tomsula leading this football team,” Baalke added. “We have had the privilege of working alongside Jim for the past eight seasons. He is a proven leader, teacher and mentor, and we look forward to seeing him apply his craft and vision to our team.”
Defensive end Tony Jerod-Eddie recently recalled his first year in the league in 2012.
“Jimmy was just on you about every little thing,” he said. “Now I appreciate him for it because I come a long way. ... It was hard at times, but I think I needed it.”
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.