After Sunday’s loss to the St. Louis Rams, 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula said he would address the team’s problems.
The rushing game was absent, the offensive line couldn’t block, Colin Kaepernick again was shaky and the defense couldn’t contain the Rams’ big-play duo of Tavon Austin and Todd Gurley.
Yet after the 27-6 loss that dropped his team to 2-6, Tomsula was his usual, take-the-blame self.
“Obviously I haven’t gotten to the right answer yet,” he told reporters. “But we’ll find the right answer.”
It’s been a similar refrain from Tomsula after the five previous losses but, at this point, where is Tomsula supposed to look to find the solution?
For now, the 49ers are exactly what many thought they would be going into this season: a mess.
Where is he supposed to find help for an offensive line that has been the team’s weak link? Former first-round picks Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati are gone, as is Daniel Kilgore (though he may return from injury soon), and the players now available on the roster to replace them have fallen flat. Center Marcus Martin, right guard Jordan Devey and right tackle Erik Pears aren’t getting the job done. Players drafted in recent seasons haven't grown into starting roles.
With Carlos Hyde hurt, Reggie Bush possibly lost for the season and Mike Davis inexperienced, who is supposed to run the ball this Sunday against the Falcons?
If he benches Kaepernick, is backup Blaine Gabbert – a failure as an NFL starter in Jacksonville – supposed to be any better?
And, on defense, the replacements in the front seven for the departed Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, Aldon Smith and Ray McDonald have been only adequate (or worse).
So, Tomsula’s heart may be in the right place – he’s working hard and not pointing fingers – but the players he has on this roster aren’t close talent-wise to the players Jim Harbaugh had during his reign. The organization has left the cupboard bare.
Plus, Tomsula hasn’t been an NFL head coach before. He has no experience in turning around a team caught in a downward spiral. Unlike Harbaugh, who had a proven track record as a head coach and player, Tomsula has made the big leap from defensive line coach to head coach. Now, saddled with a team depleted of talent and now dealing with injuries, he has nowhere to look for help.
Back in January, after the 49ers announced the hiring of Tomsula, Alex Hickey of the website Football Insiders, predicted doom.
Wrote Hickey: “San Francisco is poised to take a cliff dive back into irrelevance."
After eight games, Hickey’s prediction is proving true. But also true is the fact Tomsula can look up and down his roster for answers to numerous problems and find only question marks.