Jim Tomsula

This Date In Transactions History: 49ers Fire Jim Tomsula

On this date in 2016, the 49ers bid adieu to head coach Jim Tomsula. Tomsula had spent nearly a decade with the franchise, but couldn’t deliver results in his lone year as HC. 

Jimmy has been a valuable member of the 49ers organization for the last nine years,” CEO Jed York said in a statement. “We all know he is a man of high character, and his contributions on the field and in our community have always been greatly appreciated. This entire organization is proud and grateful to have worked so closely alongside Jimmy. We all wish him and his family great success in the future.”

The Niners casted a wide net to replace Jim Harbaugh, but ultimately kept things in house by promoting Tomsula, their longtime defensive line coach. After signing a four-year, $14MM deal, his squad went just 5-11, giving the 49ers their worst record since 2007. To his credit, the Niners managed to close that season with a win over the rival Rams. Still, it was all a far cry from Harbaugh’s tenure — a 44-19-1 regular-season record and three playoff appearances across four years.

Less than two weeks later, the Niners tapped Chip Kelly as their next leader. The Kelly era was even shorter — the charismatic coach was sacked on January 1st, 2017, along with GM Trent Baalke. Kelly’s fast-paced system was supposed to reignite the offense. Instead, they were 24th in DVOA, 27th in scoring, and 29th in yardage.

Tomsula, meanwhile, left with the full $14MM payout for his one season in the role. A couple years later, he returned to his bread-and-butter, serving as the defensive line coach for Washington (2017-2019) and Dallas (2020). Tomsula spent 2021 outside of the NFL, but it’s possible that the 53-year-old could reemerge sometime this year.

Cowboys Fire Mike Nolan, Jim Tomsula

Mike Nolan will be a one-and-done as Cowboys defensive coordinator. The veteran assistant coach and former HC received his walking papers Friday, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports tweets. The Cowboys also fired defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

The Cowboys were not able to right the ship defensively this season. The embattled unit forced Dak Prescott into early-season shootouts and left the team overmatched at times after the Cowboys lost their starting quarterback. Nolan’s defense ranked 28th in scoring — down from 11th in 2019 under Rod Marinelli — and even though DVOA was a bit kinder to his unit’s performance (23rd), the Cowboys will designate him as their major scapegoat for a 6-10 season.

This marked Nolan’s eighth DC opportunity. The former 49ers HC has been a defensive coordinator since the 1993 season, though when Mike McCarthy summoned Nolan to be his defensive leader in Dallas, Nolan had not served in that capacity since overseeing the 2014 Falcons defense. The Cowboys gave up at least 34 points from Weeks 2-6, allowed 41 to Washington — DVOA’s No. 32 offense — during Dallas’ Thanksgiving game.

The 218 points the Cowboys allowed through six games tied for the third-worst mark in NFL history, and the 473 points Nolan’s troops ceded during the 2020 season doubled as the most in the franchise’s 61-year history. Allowing more than 290 yards in losses to the Browns and Ravens, the Cowboys ranked 31st against the run.

The Cowboys brought in Tomsula — best known for his time in San Francisco, which included a one-year run (2015) as 49ers HC — after he spent three seasons with Washington. While the veteran assistant coaxed strong work from Washington’s D-line last season and oversaw Aldon Smith‘s comeback season, the Cowboys will replace him soon.

Jerry Jones provided repeated assurances McCarthy would be back. And OC Kellen Moore turned down a path back to Boise State to stay in Dallas. While Prescott’s contract will (again) be the top Cowboys offseason priority, upgrading at defensive coordinator will be critical to restoring a Cowboys team that has ventured off track over the past two seasons.

Kellen Moore To Stay With Cowboys

Kellen Moore will remain the Cowboys’ OC in 2020 as a member of new head coach Mike McCarthy‘s staff, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. In addition, the team will add former Rams special teams coordinator John Fassel to serve in the same capacity in Dallas, and it is also hiring Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator and Jim Tomsula as defensive line coach.

Moore, 30, had drawn interest from Washington for the Pac-12 program’s OC job, but Mike Garafolo tweeted yesterday that the expectation was for the wunderkind coach to stay with the Cowboys.

Despite Dallas’ disappointing season, the team is intent on keeping Moore. Jerry Jones made it a point during the Cowboys’ HC interviews to express his desire for Jason Garrett‘s eventual successor to retain Moore. And McCarthy is a fan of the one-year coordinator. One year remains on Moore’s contract.

Although Moore went to Boise State, he is from a town southeast Washington. So, the Huskies OC job would generate natural appeal. And McCarthy being an offensive-minded coach would stand to lessen Moore’s impact with the 2020 Cowboys. But Jones being in the young coach’s corner will likely make a difference in shaping McCarthy’s offensive staff.

Under Moore, the Cowboys jumped from 22nd in total offense to first from 2018-19. Dak Prescott surpassed his previous career-high yardage total by more than 1,000, and his 30 touchdown passes were seven more than his previous career high. The fourth-year quarterback fell one yard shy of Tony Romo‘s single-season Cowboys record. The franchise appears to be on the verge of a McCarthy-Moore partnership, which would be an interesting meld of offensive philosophies given that the new head coach is steeped in the West Coast offense and Moore ran a version of Air Coryell.

Coaching Notes: Rhule, Giants, Cowboys

Even after Joe Judge‘s standout interview Monday led to him becoming the Giants‘ head coach, the franchise still had Matt Rhule as their preferred candidate. The Panthers‘ seven-year, $62MM offer to the Baylor head coach essentially prompted the Giants to fold their hand on this front, with Ralph Vacchiano of SNY noting Big Blue balked at the contract length and salary. Rhule’s $8.9MM salary makes him the sixth-highest-paid coach in the league — behind Bill Belichick ($12MM per year), Pete Carroll ($11MM AAV), Jon Gruden ($10MM), Sean Payton ($9.8MM) and John Harbaugh ($9MM). The Panthers also paid Baylor a $6MM buyout, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Just months ago, Rhule agreed to an extension with the Big 12 program.

Here is the latest from the coaching front:

  • In addition to missing out on the Ron Rivera boat, the Giants wanted to speak with Mike McCarthy again, Vacchiano adds. The Cowboys swooping in prevented such an opportunity.
  • Big Blue received a ringing Judge endorsement from Belichick, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). The former Giants defensive coordinator and six-time Super Bowl-winning head coach called the Giants to sell them on Judge’s credentials, despite his non-traditional candidacy as a special teams coordinator.
  • Shifting to McCarthy’s Cowboys staff, the team is expected to hire Rams special teams coordinator John Fassel to the same position, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Fassel’s contract was up. The second-generation NFL coach will relocate to Dallas after spending eight seasons with the Rams. Fassel came over from the Raiders in 2012, when Jeff Fisher took over in St. Louis, and stayed on with Sean McVay‘s team for three seasons. Fassel served as Rams interim HC in 2016, after the franchise fired Fisher. The Rams are losing their DC and ST coordinators, with Wade Phillips also out of the picture.
  • Other candidates have surfaced to relocate to Texas. Cowboys assistants expect Saints linebackers coach Mike Nolan to be named Dallas’ new defensive coordinator, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Nolan was the 49ers’ head coach in 2005, when McCarthy served as San Francisco’s OC. Additionally, Redskins defensive line coach Jim Tomsula is on McCarthy’s radar, per Pelissero (on Twitter). Tomsula was the 49ers’ HC in 2015 and has been the Redskins’ D-line coach since 2017.
  • The Bengals and special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons have agreed to an extension, Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (on Twitter). A longtime Dolphins ST boss, Simmons interviewed for the Bengals’ HC job last year and joined Cincinnati’s staff as a key assistant after the top job went to Zac Taylor. Despite Cincinnati’s 2-14 record, the team ranked first in special teams DVOA under its first-year leader.

Staff Notes: Broncos, Redskins, Eagles

A few pipelines have led to the Broncos this offseason. Following’s Ed Donatell Chicago-to-Denver move alongside Vic Fangio, another 49ers staffer will take a key job on the Broncos’ staff, joining new OC Rich Scangarello. T.C. McCartney, an offensive assistant with San Francisco, will become Denver’s new quarterbacks coach, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets. McCartney interviewed on Tuesday, per Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link), and represents a unique addition to the Broncos’ staff. The 29-year-old assistant is the grandson of former Colorado Buffaloes head coach Bill McCartney. It will be T.C. McCartney’s first NFL time as an NFL position coach.

But the latest pipeline to lead to the Denver staff is the most interesting. The Broncos will hire another former Wagner College assistant, with Rob Calabrese set to become a Broncos offensive assistant, per Klis. Scangarello and Calabrese worked together at the Division I-FCS, Staten Island, N.Y., program in 2016, with Calabrese succeeding Scangarello as Wagner’s OC and serving in that capacity for the past two seasons. (Fun fact: former Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton is an assistant at Wagner.)

Here is the latest from coaching staffs around the league:

  • Although Jim Tomsula‘s Redskins contract had expired, the parties look to have worked out another agreement. Tomsula will return as Washington’s defensive line coach, the team announced Tuesday. This will be the former 49ers HC’s third season instructing Redskins defensive linemen.
  • Washington did some staff rearranging Tuesday, shifting Kevin O’Connell to OC and Matt Cavanaugh to an advisory role. Ken Zampese met with the Redskins about O’Connell’s old QBs coach job, per Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio (Twitter link). The Browns fired Zampese from his quarterbacks coach post after one season, which included overseeing the development of Baker Mayfield. He previously served as the Bengals’ OC. Prior to that promotion, Zampese worked as Cincinnati’s QBs coach from 2013-15, the first of those years overlapping with Jay Gruden‘s Cincy tenure.
  • The five teams that coveted former Dolphins special teams coach Darren Rizzi — the Bills, Jets, Lions, Packers and Vikings — are no longer in the running for Rizzi, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald tweets. But two other teams are interested. Rizzi and incoming Dolphins HC Brian Flores met recently and decided to part ways, per Salguero (on Twitter).
  • Former Dolphins DC Matt Burke will land on the Eagles‘ staff, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Burke succeeded Vance Joseph as Miami’s DC and held the job for two seasons, both of which ending with the Fins being among the worst at preventing points.

Staff Notes: Fins, Falcons, Pats, Redskins

Brian FloresDolphins staff continues to fill out. The Miami-bound Patriots assistant plans to hire Jaguars defensive line coach Marion Hobby and Giants outside linebackers coach Rob Leonard, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Hobby’s past two NFL seasons in Jacksonville came after a decade at the college level, with the 52-year-old assistant’s previous coaching work coming at the college level. He was Clemson’s co-defensive coordinator and defensive ends coach for six seasons, coaching Vic Beasley, Shaq Lawson and Andre Branch in that time. Hobby was also the Saints’ defensive ends coach during Sean Payton‘s first two seasons. Leonard spent the past six seasons with the Giants, working with three head coaches. This was his lone coaching post at the NFL or college level. He worked with new Miami DC Patrick Graham for two of those years.

Here is the latest from the coaching ranks:

  • Dante Scarnecchia retired from the NFL after the 2013 season, but when the Patriots‘ 2015 campaign ended with the Broncos hitting Tom Brady more than 20 times, New England lured its longtime offensive line coach back to the sideline. Scarnecchia has now been back for three seasons and intends to make that at least four, with ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss noting he plans to coach in 2019. Aided by the 70-year-old assistant’s guidance, the Patriots’ offensive front nullified the Chiefs’ formidable pass rush for most of the AFC championship game.
  • The Redskins may be looking for a new defensive line coach. Jim Tomsula‘s contract has expired, Bruce Allen said (via NBC Sports Washington’s J.P. Finlay, on Twitter). The former 49ers head coach landed in Washington in 2017. It’s possible the sides could work out another contract, with Tomsula having aided the development of Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis (combined 15 sacks).
  • Washington, though, is expected bring back offensive line coach Bill Callahan next season, Allen said. He is under contract for 2019. Bill’s son, Brian Callahan, recently landed the Bengals’ OC gig, and the Bengals were interested in pairing up the father-son tandem. Bill Callahan has coached Washington’s offensive linemen since 2015, the last two years overseeing a position group ransacked by injuries.
  • After two seasons on Dan Quinn‘s Falcons staff, Charlie Jackson will move to the college ranks to become a head coach. Jackson will take over at Division II Kentucky State, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes. Jackson served as Atlanta’s defensive backs coach but had previously coached with the Broncos and Packers and worked as a Seahawks scout. He was not fired when the Falcons made sweeping staff changes, but the team now has a staff vacancy.

East Rumors: Pouncey, Elliott, Pats, Eagles

Mike Pouncey has played in each of the Dolphins‘ three games this season after missing 11 2016 contests. But he gave a sobering glimpse into his future in the NFL, with the hip injury he suffered last season looking like a seminal setback. The perennial Pro Bowl blocker said the length of his career will be determined by how his hip holds up, adding that he will need hip-replacement surgery in the next “five to 10 years.””

[My hip] always feels tight. … I don’t have a normal hip,” Pouncey said, via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. “We’ll see. I can’t predict the future. I’m listening to a doctor tell me. I feel right now; I don’t need [a replacement]. But we’ll see.”

This process would end Pouncey’s career, but for now, the 28-year-old blocker continues to anchor Miami’s line. He spent the offseason recovering from the hip malady and continues to operate on a partial practice schedule, taking Thursdays off — a pattern Pouncey sees continuing for the foreseeable future. The seventh-year player is signed through the 2020 season.

Here’s the latest from several East Coast teams (and the Cowboys).

  • Monday’s Ezekiel Elliott-vs.-NFL battle is expected to produce a decision within the next two weeks, Todd Archer of ESPN.com reports. While the Cowboys running back isn’t sure he will venture to New Orleans where his legal team and the NFLPA will represent him in this saga’s latest courtroom chapter, the Fifth District Court of Appeals could free him up to play the rest of the season or reinstate his six-game suspension. Neither side is interested in a settlement, however.
  • The Patriots have given up the most points through four games thus far. Usually supporting Tom Brady with an upper-echelon defense, the Pats should be discussing a Jimmy Garoppolo trade to bring in some help to capitalize on the 40-year-old starter’s closing dominance window, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes. New England held onto its backup quarterback despite interest this offseason, and La Canfora notes a Malcolm Butler trade wouldn’t bring in what a Garoppolo shipment would. That said, the Pats have just $5.4MM in cap space — so any defender help they could be targeting would probably have to be on a rookie contract, as Garoppolo ($1.17MM cap figure) is. La Canfora suggests the 49ers, armed with several rookie-deal defenders and no long-term quarterback answer, as a fit for this hypothetical scenario. A deal of this sort would also need to involve a Garoppolo extension, since he’s months away from free agency.
  • Jake Elliott is making a strong case to supplant the injured Caleb Sturgis as the Eagles‘ full-time kicker, Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com writes. Signed off the Bengals’ practice squad, Elliott hit four more field goals in the Eagles’ win over the Chargers after his 61-yard game-winner last week. Frank notes Elliott already has two 53-plus-yard field goals in two games. Sturgis has three in 30 Philly contests. A fifth-year veteran, Sturgis remains on the Eagles’ 53-man roster and is rehabbing a hip flexor strain.
  • Jim Tomsula‘s impact is already being observed in Washington, John Keim of ESPN.com notes. Redskins defenders have told Keim about the former 49ers head coach’s presence leading to an improved defensive line. Washington hired Tomsula as its D-line coach this year, and he’s helped a unit that lost starters Chris Baker and Ricky Jean-Francois in the offseason. Tomsula spent eight seasons as the 49ers’ defensive line coach before his one-season stay as the franchise’s HC. He did not coach last season.

Coaching Notes: Groh, Peete, Koetter

Most of the league’s head coaching and coordinator vacancies have been filled, but teams are still making important coaching decisions. Let’s round up a few of the latest coaching-related notes:

  • The Eagles hired Mike Groh as their wide receivers coach, as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter). Groh served as the Rams’ wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator in 2016, and he also worked as the Bears’ wide receivers coach from 2013-2015. Alshon Jeffery‘s best seasons came with Groh as his position coach, and in his one season with the Rams, Groh oversaw Kenny Britt‘s first 1,000-yard season (both Britt and Jeffery are eligible for unrestricted free agency this year, and Philadelphia needs wide receiver help in a big way). The 45-year-old Groh has an extensive college coaching resume, working as the quarterbacks coach for Louisville, the wide receivers coach for Alabama, and the wide receivers coach, quarterbacks coach, and offensive coordinator for Virginia.
  • Skip Peete will remain the Rams‘ running backs coach, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Peete was hired as the team’s running backs coach last year after serving in that same capacity for the Raiders, Cowboys, and Bears.
  • We heard on Friday that Jim Tomsula interviewed for the Saints‘ open defensive line coach job earlier this week, though ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that Tomsula will interview with New Orleans during this week’s Senior Bowl. Whether it will simply be a second interview or whether the two sides have actually met at all at this point is unclear. Before his disastrous stint as the 49ers’ head coach, Tomsula was a successful D-line coach with the franchise from 2007-14.
  • Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter is likely to retain his offensive play-calling duties, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. Koetter said at his season-ending news conference that he was considering giving up his role as play-caller, but he appears to have thought better of it.

Redskins Hire Jim Tomsula As DL Coach

The Redskins have agreed to hire former 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula as defensive line coach, as Carol Maloney of NBC4 first reported (Twitter link). Jim Tomsula (vertical)

[RELATED: Redskins Promote Greg Manusky To DC] 

Tomsula, of course, posted a disappointing 5-11 record during his one season as San Francisco’s head coach, and was out of the NFL entirely during the 2016 season. However, while Tomsula failed to match his predecessor Jim Harbaugh‘s track record as 49ers head coach, Tomsula had previously been a highly respected defensive line coach, serving in the role for the Niners from 2007-14.

During that time, Tomsula overlapped not only with Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan, but new Washington defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, whom the Redskins recently promoted to DC

The Redskins weren’t the only club to express interest in Tomsula this offseason, as the Saints also interviewed him for their vacant defensive line coach position.

Staff Notes: Bills, Saints, Jags, Broncos, Jets

The Bills’ hiring of offensive coordinator Rick Dennison on Thursday is “very good news” for quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com said Friday on NFL Network (via Kevin Patra of NFL.com). While it previously appeared Taylor was on the outs in Buffalo, which faces a March 11 deadline to retain him for a guaranteed $30.75MM, it would “make no sense” for the team to change QBs after landing Dennison, per Rapoport. Dennison worked as Taylor’s position coach with the Ravens in 2014 and then served as the O-coordinator in Denver, which made a push to sign Taylor in free agency before he headed to the Bills in March 2015. With Dennison now in Buffalo, Rapoport expects the Bills to continue with Taylor, though he notes that they could first restructure his contract.

More coaching-related updates:

  • Ex-49ers head coach Jim Tomsula interviewed for the Saints’ open defensive line coach job earlier this week, multiple sources told Sporting News’ Alex Marvez. Tomsula was only at the helm in San Francisco for one year, a five-win 2015, but he was a successful D-line coach with the franchise from 2007-14.
  • Former Jaguars great Keenan McCardell will interview to become their wide receivers coach, according to Hays Carlyon of 1010XL. McCardell most recently coached the Redskins’ receivers from 2014-15, but he’s best known for his illustrious career as an NFL wideout from 1992-2007. Most of McCardell’s success came in Jacksonville, where he hauled in 499 passes and 30 touchdowns between 1996-2001. All told, McCardell combined for 883 catches and 63 scores with five teams.
  • The Broncos are set to name Geep Chryst their tight ends coach, reports Marvez (Twitter link). Chryst is familiar with Denver’s offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy, as the two were together in Carolina from 2006-08. His highest-profile work came as San Francisco’s offensive coordinator in 2015 (under the aforementioned Tomsula).
  • The Jets have hired Robert Nunn as their defensive line coach, tweets Marvez. Nunn previously held the same position in Cleveland, which fired him Tuesday.
  • The Bills have tabbed Andrew Dees as their assistant offensive line coach, writes Zac Jackson of Pro Football Talk. Dees also handled that role with the Bills in 2012 before serving on the Chargers’ staff from 2013-15. In his second stint in Buffalo, he’ll work under newly hired O-line coach Juan Castillo.
  • Dees is replacing Tony Sparano Jr., whom the Jaguars have hired as their assistant O-line coach, relays Adam Caplan of ESPN (Twitter link).