San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke met with the media Monday afternoon to discuss their coaching situation, and the season that was. York was squarely in the crosshairs of the media, which was only fair given everything that has gone down this year.
We should have a transcript later in the day, and while it will be worth a read, keep an eye out for video on 49ers.com or CSNBayArea.com. York may not have been sweating bullets, but it was a fairly awkward performance by the 49ers CEO. I mentioned before the press conference that I expected a whole lot of cliches. We did get plenty of those, including several mentions of "mutual".
The press conference as a whole was not particularly a good look for York, and I think most are convinced the issues truly were between him and Jim Harbaugh, as opposed to Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke. York was fine at times, acknowledging the off-field problems, and admitting it was his decision to not play Ray McDonald.
He would not acknowledge the causes of friction that resulted in the decision to "part ways" with Harbaugh. He said they had several discussions dating back to last year, and said the result was that they decided it was mutually agreeable to part ways. When pressed on the reasons what they discussed that would cause them to end such a successful relationship, York said the conversations were private and would not go any further.
Trent Baalke, on the other hand, was pretty much as even-keeled as you would expect. He gets fired up during games, but with the media he is pretty much the same day in and day out. He said the reports about his relationship with Harbaugh were not accurate. He acknowledged there were disagreements, but he also said that the coach and GM have to be in lockstep, and that they did fine together. He acknowledged that he will retain control of the 53-man roster no matter who the next coach is.
They both talked about what they are looking for in the next coach. York repeatedly talked about wanting a teacher in a similar vein to Bill Walsh. He and Trent Baalke said they expected this process to last 7-10 days, but would go further if needed. York hinted the team had already contacted other teams about interviewing assistants, which is something we have already heard reported today. York and Baalke would not comment on the status of the assistant coaches, saying they have families and want to give this time. Baalke said he would give the assistants time to meet with the new coach to figure out if they fit into future plans.
One interesting part was York talking about wanting to win with class. He discussed the various off-field issues, and said the team needed to do a better job with alcohol. Of course, when he was asked about the various leaks this season about Harbaugh, he deferred that as simple distractions. He was asked if he was the one who provided the leaks, to which he responded no. Based on everything we've read, and some of what I have heard elsewhere, he is either straight up lying, or he can massage things in terms of other people providing the leaks to the media on his behalf. Either way, I'm not buying it.
York did repeatedly say fans should hold him accountable when the team does not win Super Bowls. He has heard from fans on Twitter, but the only way to really hold him accountable will be if fans choose to stay home from games. I don't expect that to happen immediately, but if York and Baalke strike out on Jim Harbaugh's successor, it will get very interesting at Levi's Stadium on game day.