Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young is as outspoken as any of the former players when it comes to discussing the 49ers. He will praise them when things are good, but over the past three years, he has had plenty to offer about what needs to happen. Three weeks ago, for example, he discussed the lack of any real super-structure for the organization.
On Wednesday, he was back on KNBR discussing Jed York’s press conference and the search process. It was a 30-minute interview with plenty to offer. KNBR’s Kevin Jones transcribed the interview, the first half of which you can read here (second half forthcoming). You can listen to the interview there as well.
In that first half of the interview, Young went into one topic that will likely resonate with 49ers fans. During his Monday press conference, Jed York talked about reaching out to people internally and externally for advice on the search process. When asked if he was speaking with some of the many greats in 49ers history, York said, “Absolutely.”
Young mentioned during his Wednesday interview that he and York are friendly and exchanged Christmas and New Years’ texts, but he has not spoken with York about the search process. Young went off on a related tangent from there in discussing the 49ers past success and how the DeBartolo/York split created some issues:
I think people also need to recognize that when the split happened, when Eddie (DeBartolo) lost the team, and Denise (York) got the team, there was a tremendous acrimony between the parties. And, so the past, that 49er past is gingerly embraced, or, and so — none of us, they’re not looking to bring the past back. They are looking to go win Super Bowls into the future. And so I think we’ll always be friends, and friendly. And I think they do a great job with the alumni, great job in what they do with philanthropy in the Bay Area. So that’s all positive things. There’s no negatives. But they are certainly not looking to recreate the 49ers of the 80s and 90s. It’s just not a part of the future.
The split between Eddie and Denise created undeniable tensions. I was at events where it was clear there were problems between the two sides. And given the loyalty past players have to Eddie, it is no surprise they would side with him.
When Jed York became the face of the 49ers franchise, there was a hope that he would be the kind of person who could bridge the gap between the DeBartolo history and the present. He is Eddie’s nephew and grew up during the glory years.
I think we have seen improvement in that in terms of the alumni stuff Young mentioned. And we’ve seen guys like Charles Haley working with players in practice. But it feels like this could be tapped into more. There is no doubt in my mind that Steve Young is a smart man with some keen insights. You don’t become a Hall of Fame quarterback and also complete law school during your career if you are not smart.
I would like to think he is a mind you tap into as you try and essentially rebuild the entire 49ers organization. The 49ers have to rebuild the football side of things, but in some ways, they have to rebuild almost everything in the organization. Fans are pissed off, and even worse for the organization, are moving towards apathy. Anger is always better than apathy, and people are starting to care a little less. Most folks do not have faith that Jed York on his own (or with Paraag Marathe) can turn this thing around.
I am not a fan of PR moves just for PR’s sake, but I’d like to think there is something Jed York could do to throw a bone to the fans. He said there is nothing he could say that would make people happy, and that is absolutely correct. Actions are necessary, and providing more sign of engagement with the past in this search process would be a positive step. I’m not saying the past 49ers have all the answers when it comes to who to hire. But if you are trying to create a championship culture, they sure as hell know what a championship culture can be.