SANTA CLARA -- When the 49ers were eliminated from the NFC playoff race a year ago with one game remaining in the season, team president Jed York fired coach Mike Singletary and promoted defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to the position of interim coach.The fun returned for the 49ers in the final week of the 2010 season with Tomsula in charge. The 49ers finished with a 38-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Tomsula's NFL head-coaching career consists of a 1-0 record.A couple weeks later, new coach Jim Harbaugh decided to retain Tomsula on his staff. Tomsula originally joined the 49ers in 2007 when Mike Nolan hired him. Tomsula spent the previous season as head coach of the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe."I have gratitude to Jim Harbaugh," Tomsula said on Monday during an hour-long sitdown with reporters. "What I appreciate right now, I think what the guys appreciate, is coach Harbaugh, these guys who came in and what they're doing and how they're doing it."I'm not reflecting on the past. I'm talking about the present and the way they're doing it and the structure, the environment. Here it is. Look what's happen. It's everybody doing it together and everybody's really working hard to do it. And I don't think you have anybody jumping out front and beating their chest." Tomsula said he always knew the nucleus of the 49ers was good enough -- and comprised of the right kind of people -- to have this kind of season. The 49ers have won the NFC West with a 10-2 record.Here is what Tomsula had to say about that:"I'm not lying when I tell you this. You're going to think this is a fairy tale, coach-speak, and it's not. Last year when we all talked and I kept saying, 'Look, it really is a great locker room. They really are great guys.' Everybody was looking at me . . . and I know you took it easy on me. And I appreciated it. What I'm saying is, it's hard to defend a record and talk about the kind of guys. And I tried to not defend the record but also say, 'Look, it's right here. It's here.' These guys, I've never had that problem. Never had that problem. I'd sit in that meeting room. I had the outside 'backers, defensive line and the inside 'backers, and we'd get up there and start going through all the run fits and going through all the stuff. And that was three, four years, and we're struggling . . ."Patrick Willis isn't playing any harder today than he did the first day he got here. Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Isaac Sopoaga, Parys Haralson . . . They've played that hard. They've worked that hard. I can't tell you all of a sudden there's this dramatic increase on how hard they're working for something or how much time they're spending in the meeting room. The thing that I've always appreciated about these guys -- because I've been in other places where I'm sitting at home at night trying to figure out in my brain, 'How can I work an angle tomorrow? I got to bring people together. I got to get this right.' And that's part of what we do. You got to keep it together when it's starting to fray and identify. And, honestly, I can tell you with this group, it hasn't been that way. We've had some struggles offensively in some games over the past four years, and defensively the guys are winning or losing a 9-6 game. I can't tell you that I've ever been on the sideline where somebody is going, 'Geez, I wish the offense would get it going.' Or, 'Geez, what are we doing with that?' Haven't had it. Now, do we talk about it all the time? Yeah? Because if you take care of the team, the team will take care of you. And that's where we leave it and that's understood."What I appreciate it is they've stuck together through it. They persevered and they did it right. They did it right. I'm just speaking for my guys. They did it right, and now you see where this goes. That's what I feel best about." Singletary picked Troy Smith to start at quarterback for the must-win game last year. The following week, Tomsula chose Alex Smith to make the start. Tomsula explained why he wanted Alex Smith at quarterback for his one game as an NFL head coach:"That's the kind of guy I want my daughter to marry. I think he's got it, in terms of a man. He's a solid guy, a hard-working guy. He knows right from wrong. He gets it. He's that kind of guy."To me, this whole thing boils down to people first. You get the right people. Let's first make our separations on the right people. And, now, let's take the talent they have and work with the talent on the depth chart. But we got to get the people first. How many really, really, really talented guys aren't playing in the NFL who don't have it together? Or how many really, really talented guys go from team to team? It's got to be the guy first. It's who he is."Alex Smith . . . he is a heck of a guy. I don't think he wavers on who he is, whether good or bad, tough spot. Alex is a guy who knows who he is. I got a lot of respect for him."
The 49ers have a visit scheduled with the presumptive top pick in the upcoming draft.
The 49ers, owners of the No. 2 overall selection, will visit with Texas A&M pass-rusher Myles Garrett, he told reporters Thursday at this pro day, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.
General manager John Lynch attended Garrett's pro day workout in College Station, Texas.
"I thought it was impressive," Lynch told Wilson in a video posted on social media. "Here’s this kid who really doesn’t need to show everyone much more, but yet he shows up and runs a 40. I think it just speaks to the kind of kid he is. It was impressive. It’s well-documented – I’m not saying anything ground-breaking – he’s a special athlete.
"He checks all the boxes. That’s why people are talking about him in the way they are."
Garrett said he has upcoming visits with the 49ers and Chicago Bears.
Each NFL team is allowed to bring in 30 draft-eligible prospects from outside their area. The 49ers have their list of 30 prospects already finalized, Lynch said.
In addition, teams can visit with an unlimited number of local prospects. The 49ers’ local pro day -- featuring athletes from Stanford, Cal, San Jose State and prospects from the Bay Area who played college football elsewhere – is scheduled for April 12 in Santa Clara.
The Cleveland Browns hold the No. 1 overall pick, and coach Hue Jackson ruled out the possibility of the team trading that selection for a quarterback. Garrett is considered the overwhelming favorite to be chosen with the No. 1 overall selection.
"We're getting closer to it but the draft is the 27th (of April),'' Jackson said at the NFL owners meetings. "I think it's a little soon to really say it's this guy or that guy.”
Garrett (6 foot 4, 272 pounds) recorded 31 sacks and 47 tackles for loss during his three-year college career.
Among the players the 49ers first targeted for their rebuilding project is a wide receiver who has nine years of NFL experience and turns 31 early in training camp.
Coach Kyle Shanahan pinpointed Pierre Garçon to be his top addition at wide receiver. Garçon is coming off the second 1,000-yard season of his career. His career-best output came was his 113-catch, 1,346-yard season in 2014 with Shanahan as Washington's offensive coordinator.
“I’ve always loved Pierre just because of how angry he plays,” Shanahan said at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. “He gives you his all. He plays extremely aggressive. The best leaders are the guys who lead by example. Pierre’s not going to say much, but you know he’s going to go out there and fight every single play no matter what the situation is, whether it’s run or pass. That elevates everyone around him.”
Within the first two days of free agency, the 49ers signed Garçon, Marquise Goodwin and Aldrick Robinson. The 49ers had earlier signed slot receiver Jeremy Kerley to an extension, while not pursuing Quinton Patton, who signed a one-year deal with the New York Jets.
“You go into free agency and you study all the free agents who are available and then you stack them and see who can help you team the most,” Shanahan said. “Pierre was at the top of that list. Also knowing him made me feel better about that because you know exactly what you’re getting.
“But it all starts with the tape. It was very encouraging to turn on the tape and watch the level Pierre is still playing at. When you see that on tape and you also know the type the guy. I was very excited to get him.”