Harbaugh parted ways with San Francisco on December 28 in what the team called a “mutual decision and was introduced as Michigan’s new coach two days later.
Tomsula has been the Niners’ defensive line coach since 2007 and was the interim head coach at the end of 2010 after Mike Singletary was fired, leading the team to a win in its final game of the season.
The 49ers interviewed a number of high-profile candidates for the position including their own defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, now-Bills coach Rex Ryan, Mike Shanahan, Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and now-Jets coach Todd Bowles.
CEO Jed York cited the popular Tomsula???s character as a primary factor in why they elected to hire him over the other candidates.
“After conducting a thorough coaching search, and meeting with a number of outstanding candidates, Jim Tomsula clearly is the right man to lead this team,” York said in a statement.
“Jim is a great teacher and a tremendous mentor who conducts himself with great class and integrity.”
San Francisco went 8-8 last season and missed the playoffs for the first time in four years since Harbaugh arrived in January 2011, after three consecutive NFC Championship appearances and one Super Bowl during Harbaugh???s first three seasons.
York said a day after the season ended he wanted to find a “teacher” to lead the franchise forward.
One of Tomsula???s biggest challenges will be kick-starting the development of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, which stalled last year, and was one of the biggest reasons for the 49ers??? underwhelming season.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman has left to take up the same position with Rex Ryan???s Buffalo Bills and, with Tomsula???s defensive background, replacing him figures to be a key hire for the team.
With the 46-year-old Tomsula’s hiring, there are questions about whether defensive coordinator Fangio will depart given he wasn’t chosen for the top job and got leapfrogged by Tomsula.
General manager Trent Baalke said: “Our organization is excited to have Jim Tomsula leading this football team.
“We have had the privilege of working alongside Jim for the past eight seasons.
???He is a proven leader, teacher and mentor, and we look forward to seeing him apply his craft and vision to our team.”