Listen Live Now:

Tony Dungy: Organizational structure more important than coaching hire


Tony Dungy is an intelligent human being, so of course his perspective on the 49ers took on a bigger picture glimpse Friday morning with Murph and Mac.

Dungy agrees the 49ers have done the right thing by waiting for either Josh McDaniels or Kyle Shanahan to be the next head coach. But to the Hall of Famer, pairing a GM and head coach does not matter as much as someone taking the lead to create a structure of championship expectations for the entire football team.

“It’s got to be somebody, and the organization has to trust whoever it is, to say, ‘This is going to be our philosophy. This is going to be our identity. This is who we are,'” Dungy said. “Look at the Pittsburgh Steelers. They’ve had three different head coaches in the last 50 years. They’ve had different general managers. But the philosophy of the organization is, ‘This is how we do it.’ And that’s why they’ve won. New England. They’ve had the same thing. Bill Belichick running it, and this is how we do it.

“The 49ers don’t have an identity right now. And it’s been these major overhauls every couple of years. What they’ve got to do is put somebody in charge, and say, ‘This is who we are. This is how we’re going to do it. And we’re going to stick with it.’ And if they do, they’ll be okay. But it’s so hard. A lot of organizations — the 49ers fans just haven’t seen it — many organizations go like this for 20-25 years. But the key is, who are we going to be?”

NFL Network’s Mike Silver, who has been spot-on with his reporting during the hiring cycle, has said the 49ers’ top two GM candidates are Eliot Wolf and Brian Gutekunst. Dungy said, that’s all nice and fine, but will Jed York and Paraag Marathe let them properly execute their jobs without interfering?

“I know Eliot’s dad quite well, so he’s been trained well. But again, a lot of times the key is not what you know and how good you are, it’s how good they’ll let you be,” Dungy said. “You can hire someone who is really good and if you don’t give them the keys to the car and let them drive, if you’re kind of on that drivers side like you’ve got somebody in drivers training and you’re always like, ‘No. Do this. Turn here. Go there.’ And they never really get a chance to drive the car themselves, it’s an issue. Hopefully, whoever they get, they’ll put their trust in them and let them implement their system.

“But I worry about the structure of the team. When they were winning, yes it was Bill Walsh but from the top down, Eddie DeBartolo, John McVay, Bill Walsh then it turned over to George Seifert. But that structure was there. And they had a good coach in Jim Harbaugh and for some reason, its fallen apart.

“That’s what they need to get back. Who are we going to be? What’s our identity as the 49ers? It doesn’t matter who the head coach is if it’s not top to bottom on the same page. That’s what they’ve got to get going. That’s what the fans need to be concerned about.”


Get KNBR in your inbox

Subscribe today to bring The Sports Leader to your email inbox weekly.