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Questions for the 49ers' next head coach

Facebook friend Robert asks: What's your take on the fact that a big-name head coach won't want to join the Niners because the coach wouldn't have enough power? To me personally, I felt like they gave Mike Singletary too much power for not having any experience. So, if they were willing to give him so much power, why wouldn't they give an established coach enough power?

Mike Sando: We do not know how much power the 49ers will wind up giving their next coach, or whether it is indeed a fact that a big-name coach will not want to join the team. I do not think the 49ers gave Singletary significantly more power than most coaches enjoy. They gave him discretion over the 53-man roster, but Singletary did not determine which 80 players would be in camp to begin with.

Jim Harbaugh's name surfaced early in the process. There hasn't been much on that front recently. It could be because the 49ers will not pursue a coach until they hire a GM. It's also possible Harbuagh isn't itching to leave Stanford for the 49ers.

A thought after Mike Lombardi interviewed for the 49ers' job as general manager, then quickly said he wasn't a candidate and the team would hire in-house candidate Trent Baalke within 48 hours: Lombardi and Harbaugh's agent, Jack Bechta, have both worked for National Football Post. If Lombardi wasn't impressed with what he encountered in speaking with the 49ers, Harbaugh's camp might know some of the details.

The 49ers have some talent on their roster, but this head coaching job is not as appealing as some others. A big-name coach might look at the 49ers and ask a range of questions, including:

  • What might it be like working for a young, inexperienced team president? Jed York is 29 years old. He is full of enthusiasm and good intentions. Does he know what he is doing? That was York, not Bill Polian, sending out an in-season text message guaranteeing a division title when his team was struggling.

  • Will the 49ers compete from a resources standpoint while they continue to play in dilapidated Candlestick Park? The team is now hoping to have a new stadium by 2015, a long ways off.

  • Will ownership stand behind the next head coach? Mike Nolan had to force ownership's hand after getting word a coaching change was looming. Singletary delivered the intensity York said he wanted, but could not survive one losing season. Of the team's past three head coaches, Nolan was the only one to coach even three full seasons.

  • Who will play quarterback for this team? Alex Smith, Troy Smith and David Carr aren't the answers. All three could be gone. The team will be starting over at the most important position. Singletary got only one full season. Is there enough time to develop the next quarterback?

  • Will the relationship between York, the GM and head coach wind up pitting two against one? York said it's critical for the GM to be "a person that is going to live and die with your coach." Sounds good, but the previous GM, Scot McCloughan, wound up absorbing power from Nolan, and Baalke has already outlasted Singletary. If Baalke becomes GM, the next coach is the newcomer. Any big-name coach will want the dynamics on his terms.

We're looking at an incomplete picture here. Questions outnumber answers. I summarized a few of my early thoughts in this video piece.