The head coach of any professional team is the person who will likely take the most heat if the team fails, and will be disproportionately underappreciated if it succeeds. They must earn the outright respect of their players, pushing them hard enough to reach their potential but easy enough that they don’t hate him and organize a mutiny.
They are at the absolute mercy of the owner, who has billions of dollars and will always make the smartest business decision for his or her team. Plus, they have to woo the local media to serve as allies when things get rough. And, most importantly, they have to win, or at least provide the image that the team is headed in the right direction.
So, as noted with the GM article from a couple weeks ago, the Bay Area teams seem to have bright futures, and the men leading them look to be doing big things. Who is the best? In reverse order …
6) Dennis Allen, Oakland Raiders – Like GM Reggie McKenzie, his sample size is very small and while the organization has much history, this is the first time in awhile they’ve done things without Mr. Davis. For all intents and purposes, this is a brand new franchise, and the Raiders have a long way to go. Still, the one season he does have under his belt was still a disaster.
5) Todd McClellan, San Jose Sharks – A bit odd that a team currently in the playoffs has a coach listed at No. 5 on a list. But, he was brought on to push the Sharks to the next level. The franchise has been running extremely well and is consistently making the right moves to bring in players that will bring a championship to San Jose. Though I fervently believe there is a transcendental issue with the Sharks that will probably never allow them to win it all, McClellan has not taken them where they are meant to go.
4) Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics – Two years into the job, he has won a division title with a group of players that are not supposed to be winning division titles and has an AL Manager of the Year award. Melvin has done more with a lot less than anyone else, and the streak they put together in 2012 was nothing short of magical. And, in 2013, they remain competitive. But, it doesn’t help his case that his GM is the best in the Bay Area, if not in the country (across all sports).
3) Mark Jackson, Golden State Warriors – Why are so many coaches so new to their teams? Jackson has only one season under his belt, but he has brought the Warriors back to relevancy. For a few days, there was the legitimate possibility that they were headed to the Western Conference Finals, until Tim Duncan and Co. had enough. His ranking goes above this, though. He masterfully works the media, using the press to motivate his players and psychologically toy with the other team. And, as players have said, they just don’t want to let him down. This team seems one piece away from being a year-after-year threat.
2) Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers – I went back and forth, feeling like he should be number one. He came from one of the local universities and succeeded immediately when most coaches who transition from college to the pros don’t. The franchise turned around 180 degrees, and the future for this team is the brightest. He implemented his mindset from top-to-bottom, micromanaging to the point where every little detail was taken care of by him. They play with the toughness necessary to succeed in the NFL, and are now the scariest team to play in the league. A sixth Super Bowl for this team seems almost preordained.
1) Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants – If he only had one championship, Harbaugh would probably be number one on this list. But, motivating your players enough to win a championship after they’ve already done it is one of the hardest things to do in sports. There’s a natural inclination to rest on laurels, but the Giants came back two years later and did it again. As the only coach/manager on this list with a ring (let alone two), he holds the top spot for now. And, he has laid the foundation for a prosperous sports decade in the Bay.