I think that was as much Klentak and Zaidi as Kapler both times. It was the "manage by front office" model (as well as the "manage with the help of 20 coaches and analysts"). Zaidi saved his job by bringing in someone more old-school. That it was also someone he worked with before when they both were under Billy Beane makes it the best of both worlds for them, if it works.
I think it could have gone differently in SF/lasted longer if he'd had better players. He was clearly more adaptable than he had been in Philly. And that whole Philly tenure was disastrous, from the analytics implementation (which Fuld somehow survived) to the pitching coach. The Giants weren't necessarily even supposed to make the playoffs this year but once they got in the mix and blew it the pressure got heavy.