The San Francisco 49ers are parting ways with general manager Trent Baalke and head coach Chip Kelly. In my opinion, the next few days will be some of the most important the franchise has ever had.
Jed York is essentially the owner of the team at this point and it’s clear that he doesn’t just enable, but encourages a toxic working environment where his arbitrary whims are law above all else.
I cannot sit here and tell you that I’m privy to anything more than some of the excellent beat writers who have already done a lot of reporting about York’s decisions and what has gone on behind the scenes ever since Jim Harbaugh was hired. And I cannot point to one specific incident and tell you, with 100 percent confidence, that York made this decision or that decision while Baalke made these other decisions or those other decisions.
But one thing that became glaringly obvious is that Baalke and York were in this together and that everyone else was a step below. York had the power to direct the trigger finger, and often did, and the 49ers suffered for it. Getting rid of Baalke is a good first step — the correct first step. But it’s not like the 49ers have identified a problem area and purged it.
Jed has proven that he’s the problem area. That doesn’t mean that Jed has to go, it just means that it’s up to Jed to fix things. It means that if there is going to be a significant and real change in the 49ers’ organization, it starts deep down in Jed’s own brain and begins with an admission that Jed’s way has only served to make the 49ers the antithesis behind the scenes to what Jed wants them to be in the public eye: a first-class organization.
They are not that. Playing for the 49ers is not desirable. Coaching for the 49ers is not desirable. Working for Jed York is not desirable. There will always be exceptions to this rule, and if what Jed decides to do is go out and find those people, then nothing will change. Nothing will change.
“Nothing that I’m going to say is going to be a satisfactory answer,” Jed said when asked what makes him a competent person to hire the right general manager and head coach. “We need to make sure that our success speaks for itself. Our actions have to speak for itself. I’ve done it before. We’ve put together a team that has had three NFC Championship runs. That was in the past. I can’t live on the past. I need to make sure that anything that I do is backed up by the results that are on the field.”
It’s absolutely sickening that he calls back to those three NFC Championship runs when the only reason that success didn’t continue is because he and Baalke were so high on the smell of their own farts that they were terrible to work for and with.
Jed, the man who came up with the “hold me accountable” idea, was asked multiple times why he’s fired his head coach and general manager but not himself.
“Nothing I’m going to say is going to be satisfactory.” He said that several times after Kelly and Baalke were fired. Several times.
Jed was asked about how to sell the 49ers as a stable organization to work for when they have had three head coaches in the last three seasons. Jed said it’s a “clean slate,” which should appeal to a GM or head coach but in reality ... it’s not a clean slate. That’s not what those words mean. It is, in fact, the complete opposite of a clean slate because Jed’s stink is still all over everything.
“I need to make sure that we have the right communication between the general manager and the head coach and the head coach and his staff,” Jed said, when asked what he’ll do differently this time around.
“And that’s why those two guys need to be on the same page and you need to have the right people on the staff and know that we’re going to continue to do everything that we can to get better. They’re going to have a very, very long leash in terms of making decisions. There are no sacred cows here, whether that’s in the personnel department, on the coaching staff, in the locker room. “
That all sounds nice, but at this point, I’m only going to relent a little on the open hostility rather than pat him on the back for saying the glaringly obvious thing to say. The better way to put that would be to admit that he meddled far too much, Baalke’s head got far too big for his shoulders, and communication has broken down at every single level of this organization — not just between head coach and general manager.
It didn’t help that just a few questions later in his press conference, Jed implied that those communication problems didn’t exist this past season, and then dodged the question when confronted with it. And then here’s the kicker...
Jed was asked about the firing of Jim Harbaugh and whether or not it was a mistake.
“I can’t look backwards. We need to make sure that we’re looking forward and doing everything that we can to get this team back. It’s very easy to play revisionist history. I’m just not going to play that game.”
Let’s just gloss over the fact that Jed apparently has no idea what the phrase “revisionist history” actually means and point out that looking backwards is incredible important, especially if Jed’s favorite word — accountability — is to come into play.
Alright so let’s take a look at some more quotes ... Jed was asked about owners around the league who don’t make football decisions. His response made me spit out my beer:
“We have a president. His name is [49ers President] Al Guido, and I don’t make football decisions.”
Let’s move on.
Jed isn’t going anywhere. But he has the power to change course — shift direction. He can admit his faults and cede control to someone qualified to do so. If he doesn’t do that, nothing will get better. I don’t think he did or said enough in his press conference, but I guess there’s still time.