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."
SANTA CLARA – Defensive lineman Quinton Dial was held out of practice Wednesday due to an elbow that places his availability in question for the 49ers’ game Sunday against the New York Jets.
Dial returned to action on Sunday against the Chicago Bears after missing the previous game with neck and knee issues. Newly acquired defensive lineman Chris Jones started the past two games in place of Dial.
Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch continues to be hobbled with a high-ankle sprain. He has missed the past five games with the injury. Lynch took part in limited practice on Wednesday
49ERS PARTICIPATION REPORT
Did not practice
DT Quinton Dial (elbow)
DT Glenn Dorsey (knee)
RB Shaun Draughn (ribs)
LB Eli Harold (toe)
LB Aaron Lynch (ankle)
DT Ronald Blair (hamstring)
C Daniel Kilgore (hamstring)
JETS PARTICIPATION REPORT
Did not practice
S Antonio Allen (concussion)
T Breno Giacomini (back, calf, shoulder)
C Nick Mangold (ankle)
WR Jalin Marshall (concussion)
LB Lorenzo Mauldin (ankle)
DT Steve McLendon (hamstring)
LB Julian Stanford (ankle)
DE Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle)
DE Leonard Williams (illness)
RB Matt Forte (knee, foot)
S Calvin Pryor (concussion)
WR Brandon Marshall (knee, foot)
CB Nick Marshall (ankle)
CB Marcus Williams (ankle)
SANTA CLARA – Wide receiver Brandon Marshall supplied 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward with the first learning experience of his NFL career early in his rookie season.
Ward has a vivid memory of the game – just his second in the NFL – and the three touchdowns passes Marshall caught on him to lead the Chicago Bears to a 28-20 victory over the 49ers in the first regular-season game played at Levi’s Stadium.
But Marshall, now a member of the New York Jets, admitted Wednesday to having a fuzzy recollection of that game due to painkillers he was prescribed in order to play in the game. Marshall, an 11-year NFL veteran, was in his third and final season with the Bears.
“Well, I don’t really remember much about that game because, uh, I worked really hard to get back from a high-ankle (sprain) . . . I don’t want to go there,” Marshall said, beginning to laugh on a conference call with Bay Area reporters.
“I’ll say it: I took a couple pain pills, so . . . I took a couple of pain pills to mask the pain. I really wasn’t supposed to play. I came back from a high ankle, you know, within 10 days. I was supposed to be out four-to-six weeks. So I don’t remember much from that game. I just remember catching those balls. That was pretty much it.”
Marshall was listed as questionable for the game. On the day of the game, ESPN reported, citing a source, that there was a "75 percent" chance neither Marshall nor Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) would play. Both receivers played in the game.
Marshall had five receptions for 48 yards with touchdown catches of 17, 5 and 3 yards while being matched in the slot against Ward, the 49ers’ first-round pick in that year’s draft. That game served as a study guide for Ward.
“Yeah, I watched it a lot,” Ward said. “It was my welcome-to-the-NFL game. Just looking forward to going against Brandon Marshall for the second time in my career.”
Ward will undoubtedly see plenty of Marshall on Sunday when the 49ers face the Jets on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. Marshall may not remember much from facing Ward two seasons ago, but he said he has been impressed with what he sees on film.
“I think he’s really tough,” Marshall said. “He’s tough and he’s crafty and savvy. This is a guy that seems to really study the game and understands his opponent. If you go out there and give him the same release two or three times in a row, nine times out of 10, he’s going to get the best of you. We have to do a better job than him this week of studying film and trying to outwork him mentally.”
Marshall’s revelation that his memory of the 2014 game against the 49ers is clouded due to the use of painkillers comes at a time when Warriors coach Steve Kerr last week said on the Warriors Insider Podcast that he tried marijuana in hopes it would provide relief during the back issues that forced him to take a leave of absence of nearly four months.
“I’m not a pot person; it doesn’t agree with me,” Kerr told CSN Bay Area’s Monte Poole. “I’ve tried it a few times, and it did not agree with me at all. So I’m not the expert on this stuff. But I do know this: If you’re an NFL player, in particular, and you’ve got a lot of pain, I don’t think there is any question that pot is better for your body than Vicodin. And yet athletes everywhere are prescribed Vicodin like it’s Vitamin C, like it’s no big deal.”
When asked for his stance on whether the NFL should reconsider its position to include marijuana as a banned substance, Marshall received some direction from a Jets public-relations employee who could be heard in the background of the call saying that Marshall “knows better than that.”
But Marshall answered the question, saying that he wants to learn more about the subject.
“I do not have a stance on that," Marshall said. "That is something that I actually want to research more this offseason when I have time. I’m not a guy that knows about the benefits of what it can do for pain and other things. But I’d like to hear others’ opinions and really research the effects it can have on us -- positives and negatives.”