Ronnie Lott says Jim Tomsula has to 'move people'

Harkening the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., General George S. Patton, Richard Pryor, Muhammad Ali and even Leon Spinks, San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame defensive back Ronnie Lott has some advice for new Niners coach Jim Tomsula.

“You’ve got to move people,” Lott told KNBR 680 on Friday, referencing MLK and Patton as leaders. “You’ve got to move people when they don’t want to be moved. And by the way, this year, [Tomsula] could have moved some guys. He could have [moved] some guys to … an incredible expectation.”

Lott, who played in San Francisco from 1981-90, did not say if he endorsed Tomsula getting promoted from defensive line coach to head coach. But Lott did acknowledge Tomsula already had an in with the guys on the D-line, much like George Seifert did with the defense when he was promoted from defensive coordinator to replace Bill Walsh in 1989.

But there are also potential pitfalls, Lott said.

“Now [Tomsula is] going to manage a whole group of people and, by the way, a whole group of people that have a lot of different issues,” Lott said. “It starts now. There’s some guys that can be exceptional football players but, as we all know, Bill Walsh would tell you, Hey, I’ve got to manage you 365 days a year and get the most out of you.”

Lott also addressed Tomsula having a tough time in his 62-minute introductory news conference on Thursday. That’s where he paraphrased Pryor’s take on "The Greatest."

“You don’t have to be Ali to be able to articulate … the fight,” Lott said. “Leon Spinks couldn’t get it out, but he could still knock you out.

“So, [Tomsula] couldn’t articulate it yesterday, the way maybe we would like it. But hopefully he’s starting to make a dent tomorrow. And the dent that he’s got to make is getting everybody to play to a certain level. And if they’re not playing to a certain level, they’ve got to be punished.”

Lott, who also gave a shout out to fellow USC Trojan Jack Del Rio in the wake of his getting the Oakland Raiders' head coaching job, said he was interested to see how Tomsula will handle talented 49ers players if and when they cross the “moral compass” line.

Yes, there are many questions about Tomsula’s vision, but Lott later took to Twitter to express himself on that topic.