The other NFL teams with head-coach openings have changed their Facebook statuses from “single” to “in a relationship,” leaving the 49ers as the final girl at the dance. In the process, the Niners’ options seem to have narrowed to a trio of candidates: Kyle Shanahan, Josh McDaniels and Tom Cable.
Yes, one of those names stands out like a broken jaw.
Tom Cable? Seriously? He’s supposed to interview with Jed York and Paraag Marathe on Sunday, and one NFL team is astounded. I’m not even talking about the Raiders.
Cable has coached the Seahawks’ offensive line since 2011 – basically, since he became the last coach Al Davis ever let go. (Technically, Cable wasn’t fired in Oakland; Davis did not renew his expired contract.) And in that time, the Seattle O-line has been an exploding Samsung Galaxy.
In Cable’s six years in Seattle, Pro Football Focus has awarded his lines the following NFL rankings, starting in 2011: 29th, 20th, 27th, 19th, 30th and 32nd. Unless the league has added several teams I don’t know about, those rankings fall somewhere between bleh and run-for-your-life-Russell-Wilson! And they got worse over time.
Not everyone trusts PFF’s individual ratings, because they fail to account for assignments. But these aren’t individual marks; they’re group rankings. It seems easier to determine whether a line got people blocked on any given play. Many times, Seattle’s has not.
Granted, the Seahawks have not invested much in their offensive line. In other words, they haven’t given Cable much to work with, and in a way you could take that as a vote of confidence. It’s like they think they can give Cable a bunch of beefy guys from the local InShape, a mile of athletic tape and some iPads, and ask him to create an offensive line. And the formula has largely worked. The Seahawks have played in two Super Bowl, and won one, with the big lug coaching the blocking schemes.
Taking bad players and molding them into a bad offensive line isn’t exactly something to turn into a bullet point on your employment cover letter, but I’m willing to concede that Cable is a good position coach. He is well respected and liked by his position players, though he lacks a larger vision and temperament and OH MY GOD HE’S JIM TOMSULA.
To gauge Tom Cable as a head coaching candidate, you really have to look at his tenure in the same position in Oakland. And his seasons there were mediocre at best. His three-year record was 17-27. He did, famously, get the Raiders to 8-8 in 2010. After the final game that year he came to the lectern and boasted, “We’re not losers anymore.”
Sixteen days later, Davis held a press conference to introduce his new head coach, Hue Jackson, and said this about Cable’s we’re-not-losers line: “If that’s not being a loser in our world, I don’t know what it is, come in .500. That’s never been my goal.”
Al had a point. Cable seems like a decent sort of coach for a team with aspirations of reaching .500. And yeah, the 49ers would be thrilled to go 8-8 next year, no question. But shouldn’t they be building for something more?
Cable seemed popular enough among his players as a head coach. But let’s not conveniently forget his proclivity toward violence. For starters, Cable broke assistant coach Randy Hanson’s jaw. The Napa County district attorney declined to prosecute the case, perhaps because the only witnesses were Raiders employees. But even the most forgiving of recountings had Cable lunging at Hanson in anger, and the assistant falling back in his chair and shattering his jaw – the training-camp equivalent of the stabbing victim falling backward onto the blade of a knife.
And after the Hansen case, multiple allegations of domestic violence were either unearthed or leveled anew at Cable. He admitted to striking his first wife, but downplayed the force he used.
At the very least, Cable emerged as a lout and a hothead. And his teams seemed to mirror his distemper. The Raiders weren’t awful under his leadership, at least not by the standards they established last decade. But when things went bad, man, they did so spectacularly. The Raiders under Cable were a ticking blowout. They lost 34-3 to the Saints, 44-7 to the Giants, 38-0 to the Jets, 35-3 to the Steelers.
Like their coach, they couldn’t keep an even keel.
Is this the man the 49ers want to guide their rebirth? No way. Wait for Kyle Shanahan, Jed. Wait for Josh McDaniels or for one of Jim Harbaugh’s children to come of age. But don’t hire Tom Cable as your next head coach. Let him remain Russell Wilson’s problem.