SANTA CLARA – While the 49ers enter Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins on a franchise-worst-tying nine-game losing streak with first-year coach Chip Kelly, the Dolphins are riding a five-game win streak with their first-year coach.
Does the name Adam Gase sound familiar?
It should. The 49ers narrowed their list after the "mutual parting" of coach Jim Harbaugh to two finalists in January of 2015. And for a while on the eve of when the decision was made, all signs pointed to Gase.
General manager Trent Baalke spent 8 ½ hours with Gase in the Denver area for a second interview with the then-Broncos offensive coordinator. Then, Baalke had an hours-long dinner with then-Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who gave Gase a resounding recommendation.
Gase received a midnight phone call from Jed York, a source told CSNBayArea.com. Neither Baalke nor York made a job offer or any promises, but Gase had every reason to feel good about his chances of becoming the 49ers’ next head coach based on the tenor of those conversations, according to sources.
But the next morning, Gase got a return phone call from Baalke, who informed him the 49ers had decided to hire Jim Tomsula.
Gase, 38, speaking on a conference call with Bay Area reporters on Wednesday, took the high road when discussing the coaching interviews with the 49ers. Gase worked for the 49ers in 2008 as an offensive assistant under then-offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
“I know it was a great experience for me, as far as going through that process and getting to spend the time with all of those guys,” Gase said. “It was a really beneficial learning experience for me, as far as going through not just the initial interview but that follow-up interview. Spending all that time with Trent was a really, really valuable experience for me and extremely helpful for me when I went through that next round of interviews -- just the dos and don’ts of what to do, the expectations.
“I owe those guys a lot just for the fact they did give me that second interview. And the amount of time I spent with Trent was very valuable because nobody else gave me that second interview that interviewed me the first time. It made it so much easier for myself when I went through that next round the year afterward to know what to expect and understand the process of the second interview.”
After the 49ers passed on Gase for the head-coaching job, Tomsula put the full-court press on him to join his staff as the offensive coordinator, Gase confirmed what CSNBayArea.com originally reported last year. Tomsula met Gase at the Denver airport before Gase’s flight to Chicago to meet with John Fox.
Gase ended up following Fox, the former Denver coach, to the Bears. Tomsula settled for promoting Geep Chryst to offensive coordinator for his first and only season.
Gase said Tomsula was always good to him when they worked together on the 49ers’ staff in 2008. He said the decision to go to the Bears was not as easy as it appeared.
“It was very tough for me, as far as deciding to go to Chicago because I thought that was the best move for me at the time,” Gase said. “I have a lot of friends in that (49ers) building. And I have a lot of people I respect. And, obviously, my respect for the York family is very, very high. I want the best for those guys all the time.
“That was a tough decision for me because any time I can help Jed York win games, that’s why that was a very hard decision, as far as even not getting the head-coaching job, just saying I’m going to do something else, as far as a coordinator’s job. That was a tougher decision than what most people realize because of the respect factor I have for those people and that organization.”
It certainly worked out well for Gase – not so well for the 49ers.
Tomsula was fired after a 5-11 season. Kelly is 1-9 after winning the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.
The Dolphins hired Gase one year after the 49ers passed on him. After a 1-4 start, the Dolphins are 6-4 and in the thick of the AFC playoffs race with one of the bright young offensive minds – and head coaches – in the NFL.