SANTA CLARA -– The 49ers on Sunday night fired Jim Tomsula as head coach.
CEO Jed York made the announcement just hours after the 49ers’ season-ending 19-16 overtime victory against the St. Louis Rams at Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers finished the season with a 5-11 record and will hold the No. 7 overall pick in the draft.
“Jimmy has been a valuable member of the 49ers organization for the last nine years,” 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.”
York is scheduled to hold a press conference on Monday at 10:30 a.m.
It is the second time in back-to-back seasons the 49ers announced the departure of their head coach immediately after the season-ending game. Shortly after the 49ers’ final game of 2014, the club announced a “mutual parting” with coach Jim Harbaugh.
Tomsula was hired after serving as the organization’s defensive line coach since his arrival as part of Mike Nolan’s staff in 2007. His only head-coaching experience came in 2006 for the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe.
The 49ers are expected to seek an offensive-minded head coach from outside the organization. Among the coaches who could be candidates are Cincinnati offensive coordinator Hue Jackson and current New Orleans coach Sean Payton, who could become available. Chicago offensive coordinator Adam Gase was the runner-up last year, but reportedly multiple teams are already lining up to interview him for their openings.
The 49ers must pay Tomsula the remainder of his scheduled $10.5 million as part of the four-year contract he signed last January that averages $3.5 million a year, a source told CSNBayArea.com.
While the 49ers struggled this season to develop any continuity, Harbaugh led Michgigan, his alma mater, to a 10-3 record, including a 41-7 victory over Florida in the Citrus Bowl.
Tomsula’s job appeared safe as recently as Dec. 6 when the 49ers beat the Chicago Bears in overtime, and York tweeted out, “Very fun win.”
But the 49ers followed that up with an uninspiring 24-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns a week later. Browns coach Mike Pettine blasted the 49ers’ level of preparedness after the game. Pettine was also fired on Sunday.
Tomsula’s fate might have been sealed on Friday morning when a meeting took place that included, among others York and Al Guido, who is expected to take over as team president after the Super Bowl.
Before and again after the game, Tomsula said he had not spoken with York about his future with the organization.
Prior to this year, the seven coaches since 2000 who were fired after one season: Marty Schottenheimer (Washington, 2001), Art Shell (Oakland, 2006), Cam Cameron (Miami, 2007), Jim Mora (Seattle, 2009), Hue Jackson (Oakland, 2011), Mike Mularkey (Jacksonville, 2012), and Rob Chudzinski (Cleveland, 2013).
In 49ers history, only four coaches have lasted one or fewer seasons: Red Strader (1955), Monte Clark (1976), Ken Meyer (1977) and Pete McCulley (1978).
Prior to receiving the official news, 49ers safety Eric Reid said he hoped Tomsula would get a second season in charge of the team.
“I think it would be unfortunate if this were his last game,” Reid said. “We love to play for him. It’s obviously been a down year for us. It would be unfortunate if it were his last game.”
General manager Trent Baalke is expected to remain in his role.