Adam Gase reportedly had 49ers job before GM Trent Baalke changed mind

It's no surprise the 49ers have struggled since parting ways with Jim Harbaugh. Never mind that Harbaugh, who made up for what he lacked in social graces with football acumen, led San Francisco to records of 13-3, 11-4-1, 12-4 and 8-8 in his four seasons. That included three NFC Championship Game appearances and one failed fourth-down conversion from winning a Super Bowl.

But the damage could have been minimized had the 49ers hired Adam Gase to succeed Harbaugh, and it sounds like Gase had the job two years ago ... until general manager Trent Baalke "pushed to go the other way," according to FOX Sports' Jay Glazer, who added that "Gase was stunned."

This meshes with something the San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami wrote nearly two years ago, shortly after Jim Tomsula (who was hired instead of Gase) was canned following a 5-11 season.

Here's Kawakami in February 2015:

According to an NFL source, Gase and Baalke did indeed come very close to an agreement for Gase to replace Harbaugh, down to the details of his prospective coaching staff, and Gase understood that his choices for the coordinator spots were approved.

Tomsula's name was not involved in the discussions with Gase about the defensive coordinator slot, I was told. Then, the next morning, after Baalke flew back to the Bay Area, things changed: Gase, the source says, was informed that he could only have the job if he made Tomsula his defensive coordinator.

No Tomsula, no offer. Gase turned that suggestion down flat, and that's when the 49ers immediately tabbed Tomsula as the head coach to follow Harbaugh. So when Tomsula tried hard to hire Gase as his offensive coordinator, the answer was no way-and Gase went to Chicago as the offensive coordinator.

So Gase went to Chicago where he helped Jay Cutler to one of his best seasons. The Dolphins hired Gase last offseason and he's had similar success with Ryan Tannehill. Oh by the way, the Dolphins are in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

And the 49ers? According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, Baalke will soon be looking for work and his replacement will decide the fate of coach Chip Kelly, the man who replaced Tomsula a year ago.

It seems instructive to point out what former 49ers player Randy Cross said 11 months ago, when the team dumped Tomsula after one season.

"I'm gonna be honest with you -- I'm not sure if they can recover from that decision to get rid of Harbaugh, which brought on the wave of talent going away, some guys just walking away, others choosing to go somewhere else in free agency," Cross said at the time during an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio.

"The drain out of the building is something -- from a talent standpoint, mentality standpoint, football knowledge standpoint -- that's gonna take them, best-case scenario, at least five or six years to replace. Line of scrimmage, quarterback, head coach, everything about it."

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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