For the second time in three weeks, the Bears go against a team that spurned top members of their coaching staff.
Two weeks ago, it was the Denver Broncos coming to Soldier Field with a team largely built by John Fox over four years as Broncos head coach, only for Fox to be pushed out by football chief John Elway, who didn’t think Fox imbued his teams with enough fire in big games.
Sunday, it will be the San Francisco 49ers that, in the wake of the chaos of Jim Harbaugh’s final year, gave defensive coordinator Vic Fangio a courtesy interview for the head-coaching job, then interviewed Adam Gase for the job, and ultimately passed over Fangio and hired his defensive-line coach, Jim Tomsula.
Fangio opted for the high road this week, noting that the call belonged to the San Francisco organization. Gase did much the same, taking the experience as a learning exercise that projects to help him in what are expected to be more job interviews next offseason.
“I think so,” Gase said. “That whole experience was great for me. It was a crazy two days [interviewing] and unfortunately [the Broncos] lost the first round of the playoffs. Anytime you get a chance to do something like that, it’s a great experience.”
Which of Gase or Tomsula was the winner and which was the loser is open to question. The 49ers were rocked by the retirements of linebackers Chris Borland and Patrick Willis, defensive lineman Justin Smith and right tackle Anthony Davis. All-Pro rush linebacker Aldon Smith was released after a DUI arrest.
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Tomsula hasn’t second-guessed his situation — "No, I haven't. I haven't thought that way, and there's a strong group of guys here that are really good,” he said — and neither has Gase as Bears offensive coordinator.
“I’m excited that I was able to come [to Chicago],” Gase said. “This is where I wanted to be. I feel like this is where I was meant to be.”