San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York, and GM Trent Baalke met with the media on Monday to discuss Jim Harbaugh's departure, and the plan moving forward. It was an extensive press conference, and we have the full transcript. You can watch the video above, or read the transcript below. Or watch and read along! All kinds of fun to be had.
CEO Jed York opening comments:
"Thank you for being here today, everybody. First, I want to thank Jim Harbaugh for four great seasons with the 49ers. He helped us restore a winning culture, a fiery, competitive culture, and I am greatly appreciative of that. I wish him the best. I wish Sarah [Harbaugh] and his children the best wherever they end up going forward. He will always be a part of this franchise, and I will remember his time here very, very fondly. I want to thank our great fans, the 49er Faithful. We didn't give you enough to cheer for this year. But that didn't stop you from coming out even in the last two games, where we really didn't have anything to play for. We weren't playing for a playoff contention and you guys brought it. And I appreciate that. I appreciate everything that you guys do for us and it's up to us to make sure we compete for and win Super Bowls. That's our only goal. We don't raise division championships banners. We don't raise NFC Championship banners. We raise Super Bowl banners. And whenever we don't deliver that, I hope that you will hold me directly responsible and accountable for it. We look forward to getting this thing back on track and getting you guys exactly what you deserve."
General Manager Trent Baalke opening comments:
"I think what I'd like to reiterate is exactly what Jed said in so many ways. First of all, a huge thank you to Jim and his leadership. We accomplished a lot of good things, a lot of good things. The ultimate prize in this business is Super Bowls. We all know that. We all understand it. It's what we sign up for going into it. We didn't reach that goal of a victory, but we got very close on numerous times. Jim was a huge part of that. He's moved on. There's no doubt he's a heck of a football coach. He's going to enjoy success at his next stop wherever that may be. I know there's speculation of where that may be, but I certainly wish him nothing but the best moving forward, him and his family. Once again, have no doubt that he'll accomplish great things moving forward."
You guys are in the business of winning football games. Jim did that as well as anybody. Why isn't he the coach of the 49ers?
JY: "This was a mutual decision. Jim and I have had conversations since he's been here. In the last, probably two to three weeks, we've talked about it. We've talked about different scenarios, different opportunities and ultimately, we just came to the conclusion that it was best for us to go in different directions."
But if you have a coach that is so successful, why weren't you able to make that work? Why weren't you able to get the off-the-field issues that you guys might've had, make them better so that you can retain one of the highest winning-percentage coaches in the history of the NFL?
JY: "Again, we've had philosophical discussions, and when we sat down, we just couldn't come to a place where we thought moving together, together was the best for either party. This wasn't us saying, ‘Jim, you're fired, you're not here anymore.' This wasn't Jim saying, ‘I don't want to be there, I'm leaving.' It was a discussion that took place over a decent amount of time to figure out what's best for everybody involved. It was a conclusion that we came to. It wasn't an easy conclusion for anybody, but that's where we ended up."
Can you shed some light on the philosophical issues that you guys had?
JY: "The discussions that we had were private. I'm not going to get into the private discussions. It was the right decision for both parties at the time."
Why are you confident that you can get a better coach now than Jim Harbaugh was or is? From both of you.
TB: "Well, when you talk about confidence, I don't look at it like that. This organization has had to replace some awfully successful head coaches in the past, and Jim is no different - a very successful coach. Are we confident that we can replace him? You always go into that with that strategy. There's a lot of good football coaches out there. What we need to do is go out and find a coach that can come in here now and lead this football team. We're not in a rebuild. This isn't a rebuild situation. This is a reload situation. Got a lot of confidence in this team, the players in that locker room and we're going to need to make some adjustments. We realize that. I think what Jed said is so true. There's always philosophical differences. There always is. Every organization has them. And for whatever reason, we weren't able to pull this thing together, and now it's time to move on. We're confident in our ability to do that."
There were a series of reports about this team at the beginning of the season, about Jim's status, whether he would be the coach next year. Were you the source of any of those stories?
Were you concerned at all when you saw those stories?
JY: "Listen, there are distractions for every team and every situation. And as a professional organization, you need to figure out how to put the distractions aside and move forward. When Jim and I sat down before the season started, going into the year, he had this year and next year under contract. It's not abnormal for somebody to have two years left on a deal. It wasn't like this was a lame duck coaching year. And if I understand correctly, [Dallas Cowboys head coach] Jason Garrett is in a lame duck coaching year. They're the only team that's been 8-0 this season on the road. They're in the playoffs. They're playing pretty good football. It's not a great example of there was a distraction before you didn't have a long-term contract in place with Jim, so that's why this season didn't go the right way. And I don't think Jim made that as an excuse, and I'm not making it an excuse. I don't think that that's really a significant issue."
Why didn't at any point you say, ‘These reports are wrong'?
JY: "I did. I said Jim's my coach."
That's not saying the reports are wrong.
JY: "I can say all of your reporting is wrong. I can go through that. I don't read all of the reports. That's just not my responsibility. That's not my job. Jim and I have had great conversations behind closed doors. We knew what we agreed to before the season started and we said we'd sit down at the end of the year and figure out what his future was. And we were very clear about that. That's what Jim said and that's what I said. And I don't think we deviated from that the entire season."
Was it Super Bowl or maybe you don't come back?
JY: "He had never heard that from me. But again, I think you've all heard from me, from the time that I came to San Francisco: I only have one goal on the field and that's to win a Super Bowl. So, Jim has certainly heard that, but it wasn't, ‘If we don't win the Super Bowl, you aren't back here.' That was never iterated."
You and your parents have three swing and misses on hiring coaches before you hit with Jim, who got you as close to a Super Bowl as anyone in this organization has had. So, how can you say to the fan base that you think you're going to get a better hire, hire someone who's closer? What faith do they have in that?
JY: "I think we did a good job hiring the last time when we hired Jim and folks in the media didn't think we'd hire somebody that was a good coach. Trent Baalke, who's been a player personnel, I'm blanking on the title, but the personnel man of the year. And I think we've demonstrated that we can make good hires. My uncle swung and missed many times. And I've had great conversations with him about making sure you get the right group of people and the people that understand what you want as an organization, and that's what we're doing. And again, I'll be the first to tell you, if we aren't winning a Super Bowl, you should hold me accountable. You should jump down my throat. I welcome that and I'm ready for the challenge."
How accountable are you and Trent for what went wrong this season?
JY: "We're all accountable."
In what ways?
JY: "We didn't win the Super Bowl. If we don't win the Super Bowl, we're not executing on our vision. Our mission is very simple: the San Francisco 49ers win with class. We haven't won, and I don't think we've conducted ourselves with the level of class that I expect of our organization. We've had off-the-field issues. That's going to happen in sports. The level that it's happened here is not unacceptable."
You and Trent, both of you pretty much let Jim take all the heat for all those off-the-field issues and all the responsibility. Do you feel responsible for those off-the-field issues?
TB: "I can answer that, [San Francisco Chronicle columnist] Ann [Killion], because as we stated many times, Jim and I, we were going to make decisions together. And during the season, Jim was going to be the voice of the football team. That's how we operated. All of the decisions that we made, we made collectively, and made collectively from the start of Jim's tenure to the finish of Jim's tenure. He was always involved and, rightfully so, was the voice of the football team and the organization during the season. And that's how it was designed when we started four years ago."
JY: "And I don't believe that is going to change with our next head coach. Our next head coach, the head coach deals with the team and the media on almost a daily basis. I don't think you see CEOs doing daily or weekly media interviews and conferences."
You do when there's large, off-the-field, controversial issues that engulf -
JY: "And I was on KNBR after the last interview."
What'd you guys learn from this last year?
TB: "You learn a lot every day in this business. There's not a day that goes by that you don't learn something that's going to make you better. You continue to strive. This is a tough business. The NFL stands for "not for long". That's been a running joke amongst coaches, amongst front office people, for a long time. It's never the same. Every decision that you make, you can look back and try to relate it to something you made earlier, whether that's in personnel acquisition, play calling. You're constantly learning and that's never going to stop. We have to learn to communicate better in this organization and we talk about it daily. There's a lot of things that as players, we need to do better, as coaches, we need to do better, as personnel people, we need to do better. But you could ask me that after we win the Super Bowl and it would be the same response."
Sure, but given the way this season turned out, I think what people are wondering, what'd you learn that -- ?
JY: "What I would say to that, [Bay Area News Group columnist] Mark [Purdy], is when you go from not getting to the playoffs for 10 years and you get there in Year 1 of a coach's tenure, even if they have hard discussions, you need to find a way to continue to get better. And I would say for me personally, there are things that I didn't necessarily like Year 1, Year 2, Year 3, that you don't speak more loudly on because you win. And that's my failure. And Ann, you asked about that with off-the-field stuff. There were things that in conversations that we had, I know what my gut was and we had conversations and we did things that probably doesn't gel well with who I am. I would rather do the things that we need to but stay at a level of class that I expect of the San Francisco 49ers. And this isn't shooting at Jim and saying, ‘Well, Jim made all these decisions.' I want you to clearly hear that. I'm not saying that. If you want to make a decision on things that you're talking about like [former 49ers defensive tackle] Ray McDonald - Ray McDonald was ultimately my decision to not do anything. It was. When his first issue came up, he was not charged with anything. We sat down with Ray and said, ‘Ray, whether you were guilty or not, you can't put yourself in these types of positions.' And very shortly after that he did that again. You need to make sure people are accountable. That's up to me. We might not win the Super Bowl every year, but we can conduct ourselves with class. And we can conduct ourselves in a way that makes me proud. I'll put that on me. I'm not putting this on Jim and, please, understand this. Jim was..."
But Jim was being held accountable and you guys weren't.
JY: "I'm accountable."
When you sent out that tweet, was that acting with class on Thanksgiving? You're the one who's brought up the topic.
JY: "Yeah, when we invite 70,000 people to change their Thanksgiving Day routines and rituals, and we perform the way we did, I'm disappointed by that. I apologized to our fans when we didn't give them a reason to cheer. And they were there. They cheered and they stayed there for the entire game and they did an unbelievable job for us and we didn't live up to that."
Jed, I can tell you that I get a lot of e-mail and a lot of tweets. Very few people defended you on that. You may have a reason. And Trent may agree with you. I can tell you that my readership really does not think you acted with class then. And maybe when San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy asked what you learned, maybe that's something you need to learn.
JY: "Thanks for the lesson, [Santa Rosa Press Democrat columnist] Lowell [Cohn]."
Lowell Cohn: "It's my pleasure."
Some of the most successful franchises in the NFL have a very strong working relationship between the general manager and the head coach. Jim was your first hire. Just learning from that experience, how important is going to be for you in this next hire to have that close working relationship and how will you ensure that?
TB: "Well, in order to be successful, and this goes back to Mark's question a little earlier on what'd you learn, distractions are difficult to overcome. There's no question about that. And we faced a lot of them this year. It's my job to make sure, you're always going to have some, but you have to minimize them wherever you can and I didn't do a good enough job of that. I met with the coaching staff this morning and expressed that very thing. It's so difficult to win and the wins come down to such little details and we didn't do a good enough job of controlling that. But the relationship between Jim and I, I think oftentimes was very misrepresented in the media. Very misrepresented. I don't read all the accounts, but certainly am briefed on things that are going on and you couldn't help but notice all of the controversy in the articles that were written, but it wasn't like that day-to-day. It really wasn't and I think Jim has come out and said that, I've come out and said it on multiple occasions, but the louder we talked, the less it was heard. And the bottom line is the relationship between a general manager and a head coach have to be in sync. There's going to be disagreements and there's going to be a competitive balance to it, but they have to be in sync. I know Jim would say the same thing. I don't want to put words in his mouth by any stretch, but coming to work day-to-day in this organization for the last four years has not been as reported."
Jed, what qualities are you looking for in the next head coach?
JY: "I want a teacher. I think what made [former head coach] Bill Walsh so successful was that he was a great teacher, whether that was players or whether that was other coaches. And you look at his successful coaching tree. I think if you look in the 49ers Hall of Fame down the road, I want to say as of 2012 or 2013, 29 of the 32 coaches in the NFL had either a direct or indirect relationship with Bill. That's what made this organization so successful. You're able to transition from one three-time-winning Super Bowl head coach to another two-time Super-Bowl-winning head coach and there were many other tentacles beyond that. What I want to make sure that we have is somebody that understands that level of teaching. Understands how to get more out of less and continue to build an organization that wins both on and off the field."
Trent, how transparent is this search going to be? Are we going to know what candidates you're bringing in?
TB: "Who was that for?"
TB: "Are we ever transparent in what we do? [Laughter] I think, [Bay Area News Group writer] Cam [Inman], to answer that, you'll know what I think everybody else knows. This is going to be a search that we're going to conduct with a small group of people involved, a very small group, and we're going to spend the next several weeks interviewing, seven to 10 days hopefully, and hopefully be in a position to make a decision at that point in time. But we're going to take as long as necessary to make sure that we have the right person in place."
Trent, from what you said, the way you outlined and explained your relationship with Jim, it certainly doesn't sound like you had any sort of philosophical differences that couldn't have been reconciled. Is that accurate, and if so, Jed, was it mostly about your issues with Jim?
TB: "As Jed stated earlier, we're not going to get into the exact philosophical differences. It was a mutual parting of the ways. There were some issues that we weren't going to come full circle on and we made that decision to move on. But going back to what I said earlier, there are always - it's the nature of the beast - there are always things that you are not going to totally agree on. And that's just part of the business and it's been part of the business for a long time."
What I hear from fans is if it's something short of getting into fistfights with a coach who's been that successful, then everyone's grown men and you work it out because you want to win a Super Bowl and if that's the head coach that can do that for you, you just find a way. Obviously, you guys feel like there was just no way to work that out. Is that accurate?
JY: "Again, it was a mutual parting. This was on two different parties. This was on us and this was on Jim. So, it wasn't that one side had a philosophical difference that couldn't overcome it. This was two parties that decided that it was best to move in separate directions."
Will defensive line coach Jim Tomsula and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio get interviews for this job?
TB: "Well, I would like to share the same respect for them that I share for anyone else that's going to be interviewed. It wouldn't be fair to name any names of in-house if we're not going to name names of people outside of our own house."
Jed, do you already have like a shortlist of people that you maybe have approached or will approach and do we expect -- ?
JY: "We haven't approached anybody yet."
I understand. Let me rephrase it better. Do you have a shortlist of people that you would like to approach?
JY: "I think we have an idea of who fits that quality of a teacher. It's somebody that can come in and build everything that we're looking for, but to say it's a shortlist, I don't think we want it to be a shortlist. I think that we have a very talented football team that didn't live up to what we expect this season. We need to get better. We need to find the right person to come in. Again, it's not about going out and saying, ‘OK, we found somebody and this is everybody that the media likes and we win the press conference. We're not out to win the press conference. We're out to find out who's the right coach and go through everything that we possibly can and make sure that this is a person that's going to be here for the next 10-plus years and hopefully have a successor. And make sure that we have those levels of conversations with people and understand everything we're looking for going in and make sure this is a detailed process that we end up with the right guy for the San Francisco 49ers."
Could you give us a clue about how some of the mechanics will work though? Trent, will you interview a bunch of candidates and bring a certain number of them to Jed or how many candidates will Jed -- ?
JY: "We'll do them together."
You'll do them together?
You have put in a request with other NFL teams to speak to their assistants, correct?
TB: "Wouldn't acknowledge that at this moment, no."
JY: "That's probably a safe assumption."
You met with the coaching staff this morning. What did you tell them and has any of the assistants been relieved of their duties?
TB: "What I shared with them is going to stay in-house, but this is more than just coaching. There's a humanistic side to all this. There's families involved and I think we need to keep that in mind and respect that. This is a tough time for everybody. These aren't easy days. In this business, I've been through this now twice, and it's not easy. So, you do the best you can. You represent the organization with class. You talk to them about the things that are important to them at the moment, keeping in mind what I said earlier with reference to being a very human thing, and we can't forget that. Sometimes in the media, it's all about answers and stuff and I get that, but with this right now, what we shared with the coaches, I'm going to leave that in-house."
JY: "And we have a lot of good coaches on this staff. I think we've shown probably a different approach than other teams of trying to keep coaches from previous staffs. I wouldn't rule that out, but that's not a decision that I want to make and that's not a decision that Trent's going to make. We want whoever's going to be the head coach, and that is part of the message that you send to guys. And if there people that have another opportunity and they think that's best for their family, we respect that. And again, this is not an easy week for people. I'm going to be here. I'm not really concerned about that. There are assistant coaches that they might not know where they're going to be and this is a tough week for them."
Jed, given the way you've talked about distractions however they occured throughout the season and the way the season turned out not making the playoffs, would it maybe have been better to let Jim go last year?
JY: "Again, we've gone through that. Cleveland called and asked permission to talk to Jim and said that they were interested in Jim and they had reason to believe that there was interest. I asked Jim. He said he had never had a conversation and if somebody connected with him had had that, he wasn't privy to it. I believe him. I think with what Jim Harbaugh did for the San Francisco 49ers, he deserved our full support, I think he had our full support and unfortunately we couldn't find a way to continue to work together."
Do you think the drumbeat of stories ,of wherever they came out, undermined this season? Forget about his tenure, this season.
JY: "Look, again, you're talking about distractions and there are distractions for any team. And I can't say what undercut this season. There were injuries. There were media reports. There were a lot of different things and unfortunately we didn't overcome them. And ultimately it doesn't matter what the distractions were, it matters that we had an ultimate goal and we didn't achieve it. And I'm not pinning that on Jim, I'm not pinning that on Trent. Ultimately, that's my responsibility. I'm the one that people should hold accountable for a failure or victory. That's ultimately on me. So, again, here, I am not saying Jim is the reason why we didn't get to and win the Super Bowl this year."
So Jed, you have a coach that just averaged over 12 wins a year in four years. What will the expectation be for a coach coming in?
JY: "To win the Super Bowl."
Right away? In year one?
JY: "We expect to win the Super Bowl every year. That is our goal."
And is that a reasonable expectation? So, what if that coach doesn't win the Super Bowl in the first couple of years?
JY: "Then we're going to have to figure out if that's the right fit."
Jed, is Trent accountable for that then? He hasn't won a Super Bowl?
JY: Absolutely. Absolutely he's accountable."
So when does that start coming into play?
JY: "Do you have a stopwatch?"
Jed, you said you haven't approached anybody yet. Might you have approached another team to get permission to approach someone?
JY: "I think [NFL Network Reporter] Alex [Flanagan] asked that question, and we want to be respectful to the process. But, it's fair to assume that we are doing all the things that we need to to start this process. We're not going to release names and I just don't think that's fair and appropriate for the folks that we talk to or everybody that's involved in this."
Just to clarify, the entire coaching staff is intact right now? Nobody has been fired today?
TB: "It is. It's still intact."
JY: "Nobody has been fired today."
TB: "Nobody has been let go."
You've talked about accountability. You have a whole lot of fans who really don't know what happened. They know three good years, one bad year, and everything has changed. What do you say to them? Just trust you in a sense because you're not really revealing what actually happened. For the fans that don't know, what do you say to them?
JY: "Again, I don't think it's fair to Jim to reveal the conversations that he and I have had behind closed doors that we said are going to stay behind closed doors. So, I'm not going to betray that trust, whether Jim is the head coach here or not, I'm not going to betray that trust. And again, we're going to do everything that we can to put the right people in place. And we can say anything that we want today, I guarantee you if I know one thing, we are not going to win today's press conference. That's not going to happen. We're going to win by putting together the right staff and accomplishing the goals that we set out for ourselves. And I'm fully cognizant of that. And I'm fully cognizant that people might doubt what we're doing. That's fair. That's completely fair and I welcome that. But, we're going to put together the right group of people and I think we've made it very clear what our goal and objective is. And if we don't achieve that, you should hold us accountable."
Jed, you said two to three weeks ago, you started the conversations with Jim that led to a mutual agreement. Even if there's a mutual breakup, there has to be one party that starts it first, that starts the conversation. Without saying what you guys talked about, who started that conversation that led to this?
JY: "I don't know if it was a conversation that led to this. It was a conversation that an owner and a head coach have. You sit down and assess where you are. And we really didn't start that until we were out of the playoff hunt. I didn't think it was appropriate to sit down and assess the season before-to me, yes we had games, but if you're not playing for the playoffs it's a lot easier to at least think about what's going forward. We didn't want more distraction, more things on the plate of what are we doing? Obviously, Jim was under contract for next season. Once that took place where we were out, we both decided to sit down. It was fairly mutual. We saw each other and said, OK, let's sit down and talk."
You signed QB Colin Kaepernick to a very large contract. Not all of it guaranteed but a very big number. How did you think he performed this year and how important to do you think the head coach hiring is for his development?
JY: "The quarterback position is the most important position in all of sports. Period. And I think Colin did some things very well this year. And there are things he needs to improve on. And that's something that is very important. I don't think you have a more important position in sports than quarterback."
Is that the balance that you're going to have to strike with this hire? Bringing in an offensive staff while your defense played very well throughout the season while trying to keep continuity on defense? Is that the approach that you guys are taking in this interview process?
TB: "I think when you look at the game of football, the one word you're searching for all the time is consistency. Consistency in how you operate. Consistency in each player doing his job at a very consistent level, whether that's the quarterback position, the punter, the kicker, the offensive guard and so on and so forth. So, that's what we're striving for. And when you talk about doing something consistently, you need to find teachers. Good teachers. And our coaching staff has done a very good job of that. And for whatever reason, we were 8-8 this year. There are no excuses. And it starts with me. And as you move forward, as we move forward as an organization, we're looking for teachers. People that can come in, teach the game at a very high level, and get our players to play as consistently as possible. And I think if we can achieve that, we'll find success on the field."
When precisely did you and Jim reach the mutual agreement?
JY: "I don't know the precise moment."
Was it before this last game? Was it after the game?
JY: "Jim announced to the team at the end of the game."
Jed, is Jim free to sign with an NFL team at any point?
And there would be no compensation to you? His last year is gone?
JY: "That was, obviously, part of everything that went into it. I just felt like if we weren't going to be together, whether we got compensation or not, that just wasn't important to me. I thought Jim deserved the respect of being able to figure out where he wanted to go, where his family wanted to go, and again, we wish him the best of luck wherever he ends up."
Jim isn't here, but Trent is here. And in a sense you've thrown in your lot with Trent? Why? Why is it that you're with Trent right now?
JY: "I don't know if I agree with the premise of the question where it was Trent or Jim. That wasn't the case. And that wasn't the case in any conversation."
OK. Let's put Jim out of it for a moment. What qualities in Trent attract you and keep him here as the man in charge?
JY: "I think Trent's been a good leader for us. I think Trent has been good at being able to identify talent. He shares my vision of really it's Super Bowl or bust. And he understands that. We had a conversation the other day about where are we going and we need to get this right. Trent understands he needs to get this right. And there is no lack of accountability with Trent."
Both of you guys had mentioned teaching as a very important quality in coaching. What kind of teacher was Jim Harbaugh?
JY: "I thought Jim was great with our quarterbacks. I thought he did a lot of great things from a teaching standpoint."
But just not, I mean, he was just more position specific?
JY: "I think he definitely focused offensively. But again, we wanted somebody that could help get our quarterbacks and get our offense straight. And I thought Jim did a really good job of that."
Just because you highlighted that quality as something you're looking for, what Bill Walsh had, are you guys both looking at someone who can teach other positions just as well?
TB: "Well, if you're a football coach, you can coach. You can coach a variety of positions. And you asked the question how was Jim? Jim's a good football coach. And he's a good teacher. And you look at the success he's had and it's evident he's a good teacher. So, that's all we're trying to do is carry that message forward. And you look at the coaches that I've been around some awfully good football coaches. Going back to coach [Bill] Parcells, and coach [Marty] Schottenheimer, coach [Bill] Belichick, I've been around a lot of very good football coaches. Coaches that have had a lot of success in this business. And the one thing that's clearly evident in all of them is they're good teachers. They have very good command of the game of football and can teach it at a lot of different levels, a lot of different positions. So, that's what you're looking for moving forward is an individual who can do those things. Not only amongst players but amongst his own coaches as well."
When you talk about winning with class, what does that mean?
JY: "Winning I think we've defined that. I don't think we need to go into that more. I think class, I understand that there will be off-the-field issues. But, we need to make sure that, as an organization, we're helping our guys. Seeing our guys today and seeing some of the guys, I want to make sure that our players-if you play into your thirties you're pretty lucky. If you play into your forties, you're probably a kicker. I want to make sure that our guys have a great career and a great life after football. I want to make sure that we don't just ask them to go out and win football games for us. We have our team make the community a better place. We have our guys embrace the community and understand what it means to be a San Francisco 49er. And our guys, I want them to be successful outside of this game. I think that's one of the things that Bill Walsh did better than probably any other coach. You look at the successful players that he had on the field, and look at how successful they've been off the field. He was a great mentor to them, and he was a great teacher to them both on and off the field. And that's really important to me in the greater scope and greater scheme of things."
And do you look to your GM then to make sure he's drafting and bringing in quality character players?
JY: "Absolutely. Absolutely. And there are guys that they might not be 100 percent choirboy, perfect quality players. And the NFL is made up of teams that have mixtures of personalities. You need to find a way to get to the guys that are potentially on the edge. That have the ability to really be good guys. And maybe they didn't have the greatest background, they didn't have the greatest upbringing, but that doesn't mean that they're bad people. And that's where you get to the teacher to make sure that you find a way to keep those guys instead of going to the other side, keeping them on the side of the road that fits with our core values."
You said none of the assistants have been fired. Have you given them permission to leave for other opportunities?
TB: "What was said to them, and once again I'm not going to get into all the particulars, but on a case-by-case basis between myself or the organization I should say, and the coach, we're going to handle that individually amongst those individuals."
Some you will hold to their contracts, others are free to leave?
"Well, what we've said is there's a 7-to-10-day window here, and that's just to put a window on it. It could last longer. It could be shorter. But, giving them all an opportunity to at least visit with the new head coach, when that head coach is named, to see what their status would be here."
Jed, do you feel like Jim Harbaugh could have done something differently or something more to prevent the number of off-field incidents?
JY: "I think we all could have. This isn't, again, this is not just Jim. Trent could have done more. I could have done more. We all could have done more and we all should have done more."
Trent, you had ultimate say over the roster when Jim Harbaugh was the head coach. Will you remain with that ultimate decision or will that be something you would negotiate with your head coach?
TB: "That's in my contract and I would think that's the way it's going to stay. But, to go back on something, I think that was a big topic that was expressed as one of the reasons that coach and I didn't get along. And, I think coach addressed that as well. That was never an issue. That was never an issue. In four years, was that ever an issue. So, to set the record straight right now, that was always in my contract, was for all four years in Jim's tenure and never once was that an issue."
What specifically, back to what you just addressed on what you could have done differently, anyone could have done differently to avoid the off the field issues?
JY: "I mean, I think the biggest thing is accountability. I think whenever you let accountability slip you let what happened happen. And I think we need to make sure that our players are held accountable."
Would you choose again to bring Aldon back for next year or to not discipline Ray McDonald initially? Are those decisions that you--?
JY: "When you look at Ray McDonald, Ray hadn't had much trouble off the field. There were multiple people that were there. And it's a lot easier for me to talk about that specific incident now that it's behind us. It's hard to talk about something when it's in the media and there's an ongoing investigation. So, when you look at that situation, when you had multiple people there that were both players and non-players that said that they didn't believe that domestic violence took place, it's hard to believe somebody when it's one-on-one. When there's multiple evidence and you go through a long, drawn-out police investigation and then the legal investigation, that's the sense that we had sitting down with Ray. There were other things that we talked to Ray about and there had been incidents with alcohol. We need to make sure that we are much better with alcohol on this team. And that was one of the things and the next incident that came up with Ray, I have no idea what happened. But I know Ray put himself in another position and it hurts me to know that Ray, who has been a good kid with us, put himself in that position. Again, whether he's guilty or not, I have no idea and I'm not making a claim one way or the other, but, it was very clear to us at that point that Ray wasn't going to be here. We had those conversations. We've had those conversations with Aldon. I personally think Aldon's a pretty good kid. He has things that he needs to overcome. When you look back to letting him play in the Indianapolis game, that was a very, very tough decision and I said that at that point. It's unprecedented that a player would leave in the middle of a season and go to rehab. But, he's got to continue to work on that. He understands that very clearly. And that's something that we need to hold him accountable for and we need to make sure that we keep him going in the right direction. And I hope everybody understands, whether they're here or not, I talked to the guys today, I talked about winning with class. I said, ‘you guys are responsible for how you act outside of this building. Don't get cut because of something you do off the field. You're the one's that control that.' And that needs to come directly from me. And when that slips you see level of accountability slip and that's not acceptable. If you want to blast me for something, by all means blast me for that. That will not happen. We might make decisions that people don't completely agree with, but we are going to hold our players and hold our coaches and hold the entire organization accountable for their actions."
Jed, did any NFL teams ever contact you about a potential trade for Jim Harbaugh?
JY: "I'm sure my answer here gives you your answer."
Did you ever talk to Jim about whether he might be amenable to such a trade?
JY: "We had a lot of conversations and ultimately we thought it was the best and fairest thing if we weren't going to continue to work together to let Jim decide his own future."
Trent, you've got a lot of players who love Harbaugh. How difficult was it to tell them their coach was gone?
TB: "It's never easy to lose a coach, whether it's a successful program or not very successful. When a head coach departs it's never easy on the players nor should it be. People have to realize how much goes in to preparing a team, and especially at the NFL level, to play on Sundays. The time commitment, the amount of time they spend together. So, that's never easy and it wasn't any easier yesterday for the players or today for the players as it would have been in any other situation. He was a well-liked coach."
JY: "Speaking of accountability, I'm going to hold [49ers director of communications] Bob Lange accountable for two more questions. Is this the best question [San Francisco Chronicle reporter] Eric [Branch]? Do you have the best question to end the day on?"
I'm proud of it. I'm really proud of this question. Trent, unless I misunderstood you, you said you could have done a better job of minimizing the distractions. You obviously go on the radio once a week, but you don't have a very public voice. Is part of perhaps being able to better minimize distractions if they occur in the future, to be more outspoken or speaking to the media more or just having more of a voice?
TB: "Well, I don't know that that was the best question to end this on."
I still remain proud.
TB: "You know, I don't really enjoy these press conferences as many of you may know and certainly not one of this nature. Not my style, I guess, to be out in front and I really believe that once the season starts it needs to be one voice. I've always believed that and will continue to believe that. I think the head coach, once the season starts, is the voice of the team. There are things that I can do better, a lot of things that I can do better, just ask my wife. But, I think we'll continue to operate very much like we have. In-season, the head coach will be the voice. Off-season, you'll hear more from myself and then of course Jed whenever he wants to speak can speak, he's the owner of the football team. I don't see that changing. But, I do think I can help minimize distractions in-house, internally without having to get out in the public because I tried that this year. Asked many a times this year about the relationship with Jim and I was very forthright, very honest every time I was asked. And every time it was written, it was written a different way. So, I don't know that me getting out in front of it helps eliminate any distractions. What you need to do is eliminate them before they get out in the public and that's the best way to do it."
JY: "Eric, I appreciate that, but I'm going to give it one more time. Does anybody have a great question? Is this a great question?"
It's borderline great.
JY: "Does anybody think they have a great question? I just want to see a show of hands who thinks they have a great question? [Sacramento Bee reporter] Matt [Barrows] does. Why don't we do these two? Those two. I want to make sure we get the great questions out of the way before we end."
I think it's safe to say that most of the fan reaction we're all hearing over the last 24 hours is pretty strongly negative towards Jim Harbaugh leaving this team.
JY: "Completely understand that."
Are you surprised at all by the intensity of the backlash?
JY: "I've seen a lot of people, if you want to read my Twitter feed you'd get a really good sense for the absolute far end of just vitriol like you're the worst person in the world. I get that. I walked through the stadium yesterday. I walked on the field yesterday. I laughed because one of the elevators was blocked off for the coaches. So, we went down the concourse and it was a great day to pick going down the concourse, I really appreciate that with our stadium security staff. People were very nice and respectful to me in person. I think it's very easy to have that nature of reaching out and lashing out at people through Twitter. But, personally when you sit down and have a conversation with people, I think it was very reasonable yesterday and nobody came out, nobody attacked, nobody said anything. And there were folks that voiced their opinion and what they wanted to see happen. Jim is a very good football coach. I certainly understand why our fans would want him to stay. And, again, I'm not going to get back into the details, but I certainly understand why they want him to stay. But, I also understand that there's a level of people that are commenting on articles, people that are sending Tweets. There's no accountability in that that you're not going to hold them to. You're not going to see that guy in person. I don't take that as personally as having conversations with folks. But, I certainly understand why people feel like they're upset. I get it."
Aldon Smith's name came up in an affidavit the other day. Are you guys satisfied that there's nothing to it or does it mean that you're still looking into at this point?
TB: "Well, once again, you're looking at accountability and every situation's different, OK? We're not going to react every time one of our player's names gets involved in the media however it got involved. But, what we are going to do is look into it, visit with the player, find out exactly what happened and make the best decision we can for the organization. I think Jed's made it very clear today. We made it very clear to the players on multiple occasions and hit it home again today when Jed met with the team and when I met with the team that moving forward, this is what we can expect to happen as players and this is how we are going to conduct ourselves and this is what we expect as an organization. They fully and clearly understand that. And, moving forward we will hold all of ourselves accountable, me included. It starts here. As Jed said, it starts with ownership and he's made it very clear to me on exactly what we need to do form this point forward and we're going to do that, exactly that."
With Aldon Smith, are you satisfied that there's nothing to this that there's nothing to be concerned about with his name appearing with alcohol in a police affidavit?
TB: "Anytime our player's names, Aldon, if you want to address Aldon specifically, we're concerned. And we're going to look into it as we have been and do our due-diligence and then make a decision. So, as of right now, there's nothing to report."