San Francisco 49ers: Pick Your Staff


Jim Harbaugh had 11 offensive assistants on his coaching staff this past season, 12 if you add his name into the mix. While this abundance is excellent for game-planning and the daily rigmarole, it often creates problems as the inordinate amount of voices in the quarterback’s ear can be overwhelming. It’s possible that Colin Kaepernick‘s issues cannot be overcome; his measurables are through the roof, but the intangibles that are unique to the game’s best signal callers are missing: He does not progress through his reads and he bails from the pocket at the first sign of pressure, losing the pivotal extra second of time that often leads to completions.

In contrast, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had just six assistants on the defensive side of the ball. The defense finished as a top-five unit, thriving while adjusting to a bevy of key injuries. The offense, however, averaged just 19.1 points per game, scored just one fourth quarter touchdown and looked lost on most possessions. 12 voices created a groupthink that spawned the ‘let’s throw the ball for no reason’ conversation that obviously won out in the preseason as the 49ers unnecessarily transitioned away from what worked: a power run game that played to the strengths of the team.

Harbaugh was jettisoned by the 49ers’ bigwigs last week (I refuse to call it an amicable parting), taking with him to Michigan the heart and soul of the team. Simply put, the San Francisco 49ers cannot whiff on their next head coach. While Jed York and Trent Baalke believe their plight to be true, they’ve pinned themselves into a corner that can only be escaped from by landing a Super Bowl winning head coach. Nice move, guys – enjoy the pressure.

We all have our ideas about who should coach the 49ers in the upcoming season. Now’s the time to show your opinion. Before we get there, here’s a staff* that I believe will lead the 49ers into a prominent new era.

*only head coach and coordinator positions will be discussed, as any new hire will likely bring their own assistants.

Head Coach: Pep Hamilton

  • Hamilton is off-limits until the Colts’ postseason run has ended. When that moment occurs, the 49ers must strike, and fast. Hamilton is a brilliant offensive mind who currently oversees one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. Andrew Luck certainly helps, but boasting the league’s best aerial attack is always an accomplishment, regardless of who’s at the helm. The 49ers will return to their power offense next season, but having one of the league’s foremost thinkers concerning the pass cannot hurt. Hamilton also has ties to Harbaugh and Stanford, which could iron out Kaepernick’s anger regarding Harbaugh’s departure.

Offensive Coordinator: Chris Ault

  • This is the most important move of the offseason – Ault is Kaepernick, Kaepernick is Ault. This is one of those decisions that is blatantly obvious but will not garner the respect it deserves. For the unaware, Ault created the Pistol offense and molded Kaepernick into one of the most explosive weapons in NCAAF history as head coach of the University of Nevada-Reno. The 49ers cannot continue to bang their heads against the wall over Kaepernick. Return to the power offense and use the brilliant offensive minds of Ault and Hamilton to craft a Kaepernick that is explosive yet capable as a passer.

Defensive Coordinator: Vic Fangio

  • Fangio had a six-hour meeting with Baalke and York this past week, and all reports are that he wowed the two and that he, along with Mike Shanahan, is a front-runner for the head coaching vacancy. No thanks, and here’s the concern: the 49ers do not need an experienced coach, and signing one will be a monumental disaster. Both Shanahan and Fangio have more individual experience than Baalke and York do combined. Shanahan wrestled over countless issues with Dan Snyder while in Washington – are we bone-headed enough to believe that Shanahan or Fangio – two resolute men with copious amounts of football knowledge – will adhere to the demands of the less acute Baalke and York? Retain Fangio as the defensive coordinator, if only to appease NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith.

My cards are on the table. Let’s see yours.

Next: On Jed York and False Accountability