CEO Jed York: “Good afternoon everybody. Thank you for joining us today. To our fans and everybody tuning in online and on T.V., it’s my pleasure to introduce two great gentlemen that are going to help bring us back to where we belong. We started this process shortly after the season was over and we wanted to make sure that we took our time, that we were thorough, to find the best combination of people for a head coach and a general manager that can work together and bring this organization back to the pinnacle. There’s a lot of work in front of us. There’s certainly not a lot of time to celebrate on just making a hire. It’s now time to get to work and I’m going to turn it over to these guys to introduce themselves and then we’ll turn it over to you guys for questions.”
General manager John Lynch: “Thanks, Jed. I first want to thank everybody for coming on out today. I must take a moment to show my appreciation to Jed, Danielle, the entire York family, for really showing the confidence in Kyle and I with this awesome responsibility of the task of bringing the 49ers organization back to where it belongs and that’s competing for championships. I also want to thank my family, starting with my wife Linda and my kids. They were going to surprise me today and fly up here. She was pulling the kids out of school. They got fogged in in San Diego, so unfortunately they aren’t here. But, it was a big change for them and it was important that they bought in and they’re incredibly excited, so I want to thank them. I also want to thank everybody who I was working for at FOX. They were incredibly classy with the way that they handled this whole situation. They saw the opportunity, they saw my excitement and got behind what I was doing. I want to thank all those people. That being said, today’s about the future of this team and Jed talked about it’s time to get to work. The work’s already started and we’re having a lot of fun putting this thing together. People who know me well will tell you that I’m not into a whole lot of promises, but I will make a few. I’ve been pretty clear in saying that this week, [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and I are on the same page that we’re going to put together and assemble a team and how long that takes we don’t know, but we’re going to assemble a team that will make you proud. I can promise you this; we’re going to have players that will compete, that will compete every day, that will compete to be the best that they can be. They’re going to be great teammates. We’re going to have a team that plays fast. We’re going to have a team that plays physical. We believe in those things. We’re going to have guys with great character, football character and we’re going to have guys that are interested in making their community a better place. That’s important to Kyle and I and it’s important to Jed. I could not ask for better partners in the process and the challenge that lies ahead in Jed and Kyle. This thing moved pretty quick. We were just in a gathering back there and I think it surprised everybody how quick it went, but like I said to the folks back there, when I decided I wanted to marry my wife, that went pretty quick too and that’s doing pretty well 23 years later. I trust in that. I think when you know, you know. I understood what a great organization this was. I had the opportunity to play for [former 49ers Hall of Fame coach] Bill Walsh at Stanford and really just was enamored with the 49ers organization and all it stood for. [Former 49ers offensive coordinator] Mike Shanahan came, before that it was [former NFL head coach] Denny Green who was very involved in the 49ers and knew the 49er way. Mike Shanahan had spent time here and we talked about the standards of performance, all those things. And, that’s what I very much believe in. But, Jed’s passion, we just kept checking boxes on things that we were aligned with in terms of how you do build a championship football team. The same thing can be said for Kyle. With Kyle, I think he’s one of the brightest minds in the game. He’s proven that, I think, every step of his career. He had a big challenge because his dad was kind of a big deal in this league. But, Kyle, I think to me, he’s a guy who soaked in all the knowledge and experience of being a coach’s son, but then went out and did it on his own and has become his own man. This year, he engineered one of the most prolific offenses in the history of football. The Falcons led the league in almost every offensive category. He was named ‘Assistant Coach of the Year’ by three esteemed outlets. He’s not only a smart football man, but he’s a leader who sets the tone through his work ethic. I like what Kyle represents because he’s convicted. He knows what he wants and he’s going to find a way to make that happen. I think he’s innovative. I think he’s aggressive. Those are all things I believe in. What Kyle and I talked about from day one, that this needs to be a partnership, that we saw the fact, through doing a lot of his broadcast and getting to know him, that we saw football in a very similar light, we see life in a very similar light. We understand that this has to be, everyone’s got to be rowing the boat together in the same fashion from the cafeteria, to the equipment room, to the locker room, all the way up to the front office. I see all my guys in the front office up here who have been hard at work in that room. They’ve already made me proud. That’s what it’s going to take to get this organization back. So, all these qualities, and speaking of Kyle, is why I really believe he’s the perfect head coach to lead this team on the field and why I look forward to working alongside him for a long time to get this place back to where we’re competing for championships. With that, no further ado, it’s my pleasure to turn it over to the 20th head coach in the history of the San Francisco 49ers, Kyle Shanahan.”
Head coach Kyle Shanahan: “Thanks, John. Definitely going to be tough to follow all that, but I’ve got to start out thanking Jed and the whole York family. Giving me this opportunity is, it’s a dream come true and it’s not just an opportunity to be a head coach, but to be a head coach at a place like this where you talk about Bill Walsh, you talk about [former 49ers head coach] George Seifert, [former 49ers head coach] Steve Mariucci, [former 49ers head coach] Jim Harbaugh and you can go down the line with the coaches. When you go back to the history of the players, before I get into that, I’d also like to definitely thank my wife sitting up here, Mandy. All my kids who are back at home. I’ve also got to thank the Atlanta Falcons. What they’ve done for me the last two years, it’s been great. Starting with [Atlanta Falcons owner] Arthur Blank, [Atlanta Falcons head coach] Dan Quinn, [Atlanta Falcons general manager] Thomas Dimitroff, the entire coaching staff there and all the players. Those were two special years and it helped me get to somewhere I’ve been trying to get to my entire life and I can’t thank them more for that. Talking about the 49ers though, it’s always been a special part of my heart. I moved out here in sixth grade and I moved away from here to move to Denver at the end of my freshman year of high school. I had three good years here and I have a very high expectation of what I’ve always thought this franchise is and that it was the best franchise in sports. I remember spending all my summers up in Rocklin as a ball boy. I had a little rollout bed in my dad’s room that I would spend, back then training camp was about a month long. Our connecting roommate was [former 49ers offensive line coach] Bob Mckittrick, I was a ball boy for the O-Line the entire time there. I remember staying up every night, playing ping pong with [former 49ers wide receiver] John Taylor. It took me two years to beat him and then after I did, then he finally told me he was going to start using his right hand. Then I realized I was never able to beat him. But, guys like [former 49ers OL] Harrison Barton, [former 49ers RB] Tom Rathman, [former 49ers QB] Steve Young, [former 49ers WR] Jerry Rice, all these guys have really been a big part of my life even though I was only with those guys for three years. It’s just, those are the guys I looked up to and guys I wanted to be. I had a hard time being them as a player, even though I tried my hardest. It was much easier as a coach to be involved in this stuff. To be back to this, what I’ve always known the Niners to be, I can’t wait to have the opportunity and we owe it to the fans and everyone out here that together we bring it back to what it was. I’m very confident we’re going to do that. I wanted to be a head coach my whole life, but it wasn’t something that I was just going to do to do. It’s something I’d like to do forever. The only way you can do that is if you have a good opportunity to win somewhere and that starts to me with the owner and the commitment of the organization. Getting to know Jed through the interview process and hearing him talk and getting to know him as a person and what he’s committed to doing gives me a ton of confidence in where we’re going. It’s not easy to win in this league. It’s not easy at all. But, when you have everyone go in the same direction, that’s what gives you a chance. For Jed to allow John and I to come together and bring us in at the same time and to be here with John, and nothing’s guaranteed, but I always bet on people. Regardless of the situation, I know I’ve got two guys sitting next to me who, our intentions no matter what it is, is to do things the right way, to commit to the right people, to work extremely hard and make the right football decisions. I keep things pretty simple in my life. I try to. There’s really two things that are important to me and that’s my family and that’s football and that’s really all the things I think about. As sad as that is, it’s true. That’s all you guys will get from me. You don’t always make the right decisions, but I can promise you guys we’re going to do everything we can to do that. We’re going to hold people accountable. We’re going to do it the right way. Everybody who’s in this from the top to the bottom will be going in one direction. What does it take to win now and what does it take to consistently win over the long-haul. We will be committed to that 100-percent. I could sit up here and talk forever, but I’m sure you guys would have a lot more fun asking questions, so we’ll get that started.”
You have one job one day. You have a new job the next day. How much time did you take after the Super Bowl to reflect on the Super Bowl and how will that experience help you in this particular job?
KS: “It was actually pretty, it was a special thing to go through. Obviously, you guys know the result of that which wasn’t easy. It’s as hard as anything I’ve gone through. What was really cool about that is, most head coaches who have been in that situation are usually at their next spot the next day and Jed told me to take my time and he allowed me to take a day and a half before I came out here. I was definitely grieving it and I probably will for a while, but to be able to go up to the building in Atlanta the next day and get to talk to all the players, all of us spent some time together and go through it again, really gave us some closure on it. We put our whole heart and souls into that season, into that game. We did everything we could. I know the results weren’t what we wanted, you’ve got to live with that, but I’m real proud of the coaching staff, myself, the players, that we did as good as we could. We had no hesitation and we let it all out there. You’ve got to live with the results, but that’s why we’re in this business, you’ve got to take the good with the bad. I’m just very happy that I was a part of it.”
You talked to roughly 15 people throughout this process for both jobs. When you got feedback on the team and the organization, what did you maybe learn about your team that you didn’t know and how did that inform your decision to hire these two?
JY: “I don’t know that that’s what informed my decision to hire these two, but it’s certainly talking to people. I think they saw that we’re not where we should to be and we need to get better. And I think that’s very clear. I think in talking to Kyle, he was very direct with what he wants to do with the team and how he wants to build this thing and get it right. He knows that he’s going to have the leeway to do that and he’s going to have the time to do that and we need to make sure that we commit to building something that we’re going to all be proud of when it’s all said and done.”
Six year contracts for coaches and GMs are not that common in this league. Some might even see it as a risk from a business standpoint. What convinced you to make that commitment to both of these men?
JY: “I believe in both of these guys. Similar to the last question, we aren’t where we want to be. We are a two-win team right now and we need to make sure that these guys have everything that they can to get this thing up and running. I believe in these guys and I think they’re going to be here a lot longer than that.”
There was a report that after the Super Bowl you were telling people that you blew it. Is that accurate and is that something that you, to be cliché, that you learn from, that you take to this job and maybe there are things that you said you are going to remember from that certainly in the fourth quarter that you take into this job?
KS: “Of course. I remember every single play and I will go over those for the rest of my life. That’s kind of the life we live as coaches. It’s magnified in the Super Bowl, but it’s also that case in every game. I was informed of that report actually a few hours before I came in here. I don’t know if I used those exact words, but that sounds about how I talk. When you’re the coordinator of an offense or you’re the head coach of a team, you’re responsible for what happens out there. If a play doesn’t go right, if a player misses something, that starts with the offensive coordinator when you’re on offense. I did believe we had a very good chance to win that game, especially at the end, and we didn’t get it done. In terms of using the words, ‘I blew it,’ I don’t look at it that way. I believe we missed an opportunity. We didn’t get it done. I’ll go back through every play for the rest of my life. I talked to our players about that the night before game, in terms of it’s human nature when you get in big moments like that, to lock up, to hesitate, to try to take the easy way out and make sure you don’t get blamed. That’s something that I wasn’t going to do and people on our team weren’t going to do. We played that game how we played the entire year and I thought I called plays in that game the way I had the entire year. Doesn’t mean I’m always right. Doesn’t mean they’re always going to work, but I promise you I prepare as hard as I possibly can. I always do what I believe is right with our coaching staff and the players and then you live with the consequences. Yeah, it’s going to be hard living with that loss. Every play that didn’t work, I regret, as always. But, I can deal with it because I can look at myself in the mirror and know I did what I thought was right at the time and that was the most important thing to me. I didn’t change because of a circumstance. I did what I thought was right, but whatever happens, if you do what you thought was right and you believed in that because of the preparation you had, then you should be able to live with the consequences.”
It’s no secret that one of the big decisions this franchise faces in the upcoming season is at the quarterback position. I understand you probably can’t or don’t want to talk specific names, but I’m interested in general. Who would you like to see starting at quarterback for the 49ers this season? A) A rookie that you can mold? B) Someone who played quarterback in the league this season and might be available either by trade or free agency? C) Maybe a guy who’s been a backup in this league that has not received a chance to start? If you can just give us any indication how you would rank those choices that would be helpful.
KS: “Yeah, that’s a pretty easy answer, because it’s the same for that position as any position; you want the best player possible. And there’s not one absolute answer to that. Everyone wants the best quarterback in the league. Everyone wants the best left tackle in the league, the best receiver. That’s what you’re always trying to find and that’s what you’re always looking for as a personnel staff and that’s what you’re always hoping to get as a coach. You don’t get those options every year. That’s why you have to look into the draft at every single possibility. You have to look into free agency and every single possibility. You have to look at possible trades and every single possibility. That’s why there is no offseason because there’s so many possibilities and there’s no absolute way on how to find that in this league. But, there’s different options each year. We have to find out every single one of those options and then you evaluate those and whatever you think the best option is that gives you the best chance to win now and in the future, that’s what my A is and B and C. There is no exact answer. You have to see the options and you rank those differently every year. It depends on what your choices are.”
As you evaluate the quarterback position, are you looking at a good decision maker or are you looking at somebody that can essentially make all the throws?
KS: “You guys are probably going to get annoyed with me at this a lot, but I really never speak in absolutes. You take the best possible scenario. Everybody wants, I always joke around about it, but as a receiver I hope to find six [Atlanta Falcons WR] Julio Joneses who can give you everything. That’s not going to happen. You’ve got to find what the best options are. People have won in this league being pure throwers and can make every throw in the pocket. People have won in this league making plays with their legs. There’s been tall quarterbacks who have made it. There’s been short quarterbacks who have made it. There’s lots of ways to do it, but you have to find out what characteristics makes someone successful and when you do feel that they have certain characteristics, when you’re talking about the quarterback position whether it’s their intelligence, their mobility, just their throwing ability, then you’ve got to think of, ‘Alright, how can I put a scheme together that allows him to use those traits?’ And, does he have the players around him to allow him to use those traits? That’s how you start to package things together. You don’t just get to build your player like you want on Madden how it goes. You’ve got to see what’s out there. Everyone has different things and you rarely get the full package. If you find a guy who has the full package, then you do whatever it takes to get that guy and you don’t think twice about it. But, that’s easier said than done. There’s not many of those people on the planet. There’s lots of ways to be successful. Never can a quarterback do it by himself. So, it’s important that you have someone who can handle the pressure, who can do it week in and week out and also has the ability to do what you’re asking of them. But, it’s also going to take a very good cast around him.”
Other than your history with the 49ers from your childhood and the franchise’s prestigious history from the 80’s and 90’s, what made this job attractive to you? Why did you want to come here?
KS: “I believe that they’re committed to winning. Meeting with Jed and talking to him, it was really the first time getting to meet him and having two different interviews with him, spending a lot of time with him, everything that he said was as good as I could hope for. And just like Jed said, I didn’t go into these interviews just trying to get a job. I went into these interviews being very honest. I have been around this business a lot, my whole life, but especially even coaching and I’ve been in a lot of different organizations and there’s lots of things that I believe are important to consistently win and to be able to talk to Jed realistically where we thought the team was at and where we thought it could go and to not hold anything back and to see how he reacted and to understand his commitment and when a guy is committed and gives you a six-year contract and shows that he’s willing to give you some time. What I didn’t want to do was come here and make a bunch of decisions just trying to win to save ourselves right away. I want to win the first day to the last day. I’m going to do everything possible to do that. But, I also want to make the right decision for the organization. John wants to make the right decision for the organization. And in order to do that, you’ve got to do it the right way. We’ll see what resources are available out there. We’ve got a lot of good draft picks. We’ve got a lot of money in free agency to spend. But, you don’t just go do that to do that. You’ve got to make sure that you make the right decisions, you build it the right way. Everyone’s goal is to win right away, but the main goal is to build a team that can win consistently and that’s what our goal is. And when you have an organization that shows you that, that you’re confident in them as people, you can talk to them that way and trust them as humans and they also back that up with the contract situation they gave us together, I can’t think of a better situation for ourselves.”
It’s February 9th which is kind of late to be putting together a staff and I’m just wondering how far along you are in the process and when do expect to have that completed?
KS: “That’s the first thing that I’m trying to do is finish the staff up. Definitely as behind on that as you can be and that’s just the way it is. I wish I could have started earlier, but getting to play in the Super Bowl is a pretty cool thing also. So, it’s something that you’ve got to deal with but it’s something that I’m going to be doing here nonstop. We’re not there yet. We’re getting closer, but nothing’s finalized. That’s something that we’ve got to get done a lot sooner than later.”
John had talked about one of the, at least down on the list of reasons for wanting to keep his interview secret was the fact that he had heard about a culture of leaking information from the 49ers and he wanted to see if you and chief strategy officer & executive vice president, football operations Paraag Marathe could keep that information private. He also said he had a very good job. He wasn’t desperate to go anywhere and so therefore he asked very direct questions. I’m just wondering as far as those direct questions, did he address leaks and that culture and has it made you reevaluate anything?
JY: “We talked about a lot of things openly and directly, but I don’t think we delved deeply into that. He brought up some of the media reports of that being an issue and obviously, nobody knew that we interviewed John. It didn’t come out and I think that speaks to the culture that we have in this building. I think it’s very important to make sure that the things that we do together, we want to make sure that we are open and transparent, but there are a lot of things that are going to happen with the three of us that are not discussed with anybody else and that’s where the give and take has to be between us and the media and the fans of, ultimately, I think our fans want to have a Super Bowl parade down Market Street and we’re going to do everything that we can to get to that and everything might not be perfect along that path, but if we work backwards from that, we will be open with the fans, we will be open with the media, but there are a lot of things that we’re going to be doing together and we’re going to have to keep those in-house.”
Welcome back to the Bay Area for both you guys and this is a question for both of you. Who is going to have final word on free agency, the draft, 90-man roster, 53-man roster? How does that break down?
JL: “We committed [SFGate.com reporter] Kevin [Lynch] to, nice last name by the way, I like that. We committed to truly making it a partnership and I think the roles as they’re defined are reflective of that. I can tell you Kyle has control of the 53. I have the 90. Free agency and draft, I think I have. But, in all of those, it’s also written that, subject to approval of the other guy. And so, that’s the way we wanted it. That’s the way we wanted it reflected, but that’s the reality of it. That’s the way when we started having these discussions, I think why they went so well is because that’s what both of our motivations were. I think we’ve both seen places where it works and that’s the situation you have. We’ve seen places that it doesn’t work and you’ve got friction and that’s not what we were all about.”
KS: “That’s one of the reasons I didn’t want to pass up this opportunity. When it comes down to the 53 and the 90, a lot of that is just something you have to put down on paper and it’s stuff that helps you out if stuff goes really bad. If stuff doesn’t go really bad and you’re working with the right people, it usually isn’t something that comes up. To have an opportunity where an owner gives you a chance to come in with a GM and to make sure that we both meet together before they do it, that’s what made this so special. You don’t get that opportunity much in our business and that’s something that I never really thought I would get that opportunity and when seeing that we had an owner who understood how important that was and gave us that opportunity, that’s something that I didn’t think it was something I could pass up because that is special and that, like I said, it’s very hard to win in this league, but you have a chance if you’re all going the same direction.”
With you being in charge of free agency and kind of leading the charge with that, if I was a free agent player right now, what would be your recruiting pitch to me on why I should come here?
JL: “You like winning. Because we’re going to do that. You like doing things the right way. Because we’re going to do that. I’m looking at former players out here. I see [vice president of football affairs] Keena Turner, I see [director of player engagement] Parys [Haralson]. I believe that’s [former 49ers CB] Eric Wright, [director of alumni relations] Guy McIntyre, [former 49ers G/C] Jesse Sapolu, [former 49ers QB] Steve Bono. Anybody else in here a former player? Those guys created the standard that we’re striving for. I’ve reached out to a lot of these guys and let them know that not only are they welcome, we really want these guys around because that’s what we’re aspiring to be. I’ve also told them we can’t ride on their coattails. We understand that we have to earn their trust as well. We understand that we have to put in the work. That’s the only way you do it. You go about your business every day and try to get a little bit better. So, that’s important to me. That’s important to us. But, yeah, that’s what I would tell a free agent player. I’d also tell them you’ve got a head coach that’s going to put you in the right position to be successful. I think that’s one of Kyle’s great skills. He takes players and he plays to their strengths. I think that’s what great coaches do. They play to the strengths. From the way he worked with [Cleveland Browns QB] Robert Griffin III in Washington to the way he adjusted to [Atlanta Falcons QB] Matt Ryan and really pulled every ounce. He lets players max out by putting them in optimal positions and I think that’s the mark of a great head coach.”
KS: “I think when you look at also what excited me so much about John is John had a pretty good deal before coming here. I remember when he told me why he wanted to be a general manager and he really missed someone winning and losing at the end of a game. He enjoyed doing the announcing and being a part of the NFL, but the fight to go through something with a group of guys and what we go through together and it is not easy and it’s a grind for everybody, but it is worth it. That’s really what people who played, people who coached, those are the reasons when people get out of it they miss it so much. When you’ve got a guy who had as good of a life set up with his job and where he was and he wants to come be a GM for one reason, because he wants to be a part of that working to win again and that’s how I think too. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on in this business and it’s a big time business and I get that, but when it comes down to it, when you have the people who are working together to try to lead the organization the way they think is pretty simple, it’s about football and really not much else. I think that’s what players want to be a part of. We’re going to shoot guys straight and we’re going to make those hard decisions. Every decision we make won’t be based off perception, it won’t be based off what gets people to like us the most, it’s going to be based off of what’s best for this organization and gives this place the best chance to win and I hope people can respect that and I believe players respect that. We’ll shoot people honest and it will be very simple to understand why we make our decisions. We’ve got a one-track mind and it’s how to get this organization great again.”
I don’t doubt the desire or drive or work ethic. One thing that is lacking for Mr. Lynch, experience. You’ve never been in this position before. So, question for both of you: how do you, with two months to go before free agency and the draft, kind of fill that void of experience and how are you doing that because obviously those decisions in the draft room are very quick? You’ve never had to put together a roster before. So, even though you know the game, new territory.
JL: “That’s a good question and I think the answer to that and it’s something that Jed, Kyle and I spoke about, I’ve got to surround myself with a great team. I’ve already done that. [Vice president of player personnel] Adam Peters has joined us as vice president of player personnel and Adam’s an incredibly skilled evaluator of talent. Give you a little scoop here. We’ve also made another hire. A former teammate of mine and also a former general manager in this league, [senior personnel executive] Martin Mayhew has joined us as a senior personnel executive. We also have [assistant general manager] Tom Gamble in this room who, you know, Jed said, ‘Hey, do you have a problem?’ I said, ‘29 years of experience, why wouldn’t I embrace that?’ So, I’m going to embrace all those guys. I can tell you that we’ve been in draft meetings for the last two days and it’s been great. I think we have a great process going. I’m not a guy who’s going to come in and just change everything. You come in and see what you have and I’ve been very encouraged with what we have already. I told Jed the whole time, here’s what I know. I know football. I’ll put my football acumen up with anyone’s. I can always improve and I know that. I know people and I know how to lead and I think those are important to me. To me, I’ll learn the rest. But you’re right, there’s things happening right now and I thought that’s why it was so critical to surround myself with people who have been there before.”
Kind of a two-part question. In wanting to get the franchise back to its winning ways, what are some of the things that you want to do? Is offense your first priority or defense and have you reached out to any of the current players on the roster and with the lack of experience, what do you want them to know up front that they can trust this process?
KS: “I’ve talked to a couple guys. I haven’t gotten a chance to reach out to everyone yet. I got here yesterday. I haven’t been able to do anything to tell you the truth. Can’t wait to get in and study our own roster. That’s the first thing. After figuring out this coaching staff, I’m going to sit and watch a lot of tape and study our own roster. You’ve got to do that before you look at anything because I have no opinion on free agency until I know what’s here and it starts with what’s here. But, looking forward to meeting all these players. I’ve got a lot of respect for a lot of guys that I’ve played against over the years and I’ve been evaluating guys coming out of college. So, it’s not just about going against guys. I know the background of them coming out of college also. We’re going to do things right and we’re going to work hard at it and we’re going to do our best to get the best players in here possible and make sure to take care of the players who are here doing things right. I always feel that when you have a good player, as long as he’s a great person and has great character, then you can never go wrong and those are the guys you’ve got to take care of. There’s a lot of good players, but it’s hard to find a good player and a great person. And when you’ve got both of those together, that’s what gives you a chance to win because there’s rough times in this league. There’s rough times in every year. As soon as you lose two games in a row in this league, it becomes Armageddon everywhere and that’s part of the business. You hear it any time you get out of the building. You hear it from your wives. They hear it from everyone else. You need strong people. It’s not just about talent. You need strong people with high character. Sometimes you can’t find out really who people are until you go through adversity and I’m looking through doing that with guys and finding out who are the guys who can handle it, who wants to fight their way out of it and you try to find the guys who when things get tough, the ones who point fingers, those are the ones that it’s tough to win with and you’ve got to find that out and that does take time. But, I’m planning on going through lots of good times and bad times with these guys and when you do that, that’s how you form a bond. Shared sacrifice that you go through with each other and like I’ve said probably a bunch of times, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it and we’re going to be ready to go through that grind.”
JL: “I would just say some of the players are here and I’ve visited with them all. I think the important thing for Kyle and I to do first and foremost is to be very clear with the vision we have for this place, what it’s going to take to be successful. And then I think once you set a vision, you’ve got to also let them know that we’re not going to have a lot of rules but the rules we have, we’re going to adhere to. That’s not just to do that, that’s because I’ve been there before, Kyle’s been there before and discipline’s a big part of this thing and accountability’s a big part of this thing. I remember [former NFL head coach] Tony Dungy taking over in Tampa and prior to that, it was constant change and Tony came in and said, and people talk about six-year contracts, what that represents to players is stability and I think you need stability. But, those players also need to know that we’re going to be relentless in our pursuit of players who fit what we’re looking for. So, it’s important to articulate what it is we’re looking for. We’ve tried to do that. We’ll continue to do that and then finding guys that fit that and we won’t stop until we do.”
Some of the criticism around the first of the year was that it was going to be hard for you to land your preferred candidates for these openings. Do you feel vindicated today sitting with Kyle and John here?
JY: “I think these are hands down the two best guys. I’m not worried about feeling vindicated from criticism. Part of my position is to take criticism and I fully accept that. I’m the person that asked for it. I sat down with [KNBR radio hosts Brian Murphy and Paul McCaffrey] Murph and Mac a while ago, said hold me accountable and I want you to hold me accountable and we haven’t lived up to our standard. I think when you look at Kyle, when you look at John and you look at the teams that they’re starting to build, we’re starting to put together something that I think has a chance to be special. But again, it’s not about vindication. It’s about what work can we put in to get to where we want to go. And it’s getting to Market Street. It’s taking a ride with the mayor of San Francisco and hoisting the Lombardi trophy. That’s what we’re here to do.”
How much personnel experience have you, we could see a couple Cleveland players who ended up with Atlanta this year, how much hands-on experience have you had with this and given the clout you had as we all said, the hottest coordinator candidate, why didn’t you demand full control? Nothing against John here, but demand full control of the 90, of everything like Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has had, like I assume your dad had in Washington. Why not demand all of it?
KS: “I don’t want to demand all of it. I think, what’s important to you? I’ve always thought none of it matters if you’re working with the right guy. So, it’s what do you want to put down on paper. I don’t need all of that down on paper. It was important to me to have the 53 on paper because I think it’s important that the players know that and that the coaching is ultimately going to be responsible for that. But, that’s more of a perception thing. When I got paired up with John and talking to Jed, why demand all of that stuff when I don’t think it matters? It’s not something to fight for. It wasn’t something that John needed to fight for. I wanted both to have shared responsibility and I think John felt the same and we’re not coming in here, we’re not if things go bad I want to make sure I have all this stuff. Things aren’t going to go bad. We’re coming here together and it’s going to work together or we’re going to lose together and that’s what makes it special. You know what both our intentions are. There’s no hidden agendas with any of us. It’s we’re going to keep this as simple as it can be. I think that would be me speaking out of two sides of my mouth if I was trying to demand everything and taking advantage of a certain situation.”
This team is coming off two pretty tough seasons with not great records. So, I know it’s going to take some time. But, at the end of next season, what would you consider a successful season? Not just in terms of record, but in changes on the team and in the organization?
KS: “Well, I personally, something that’s been important to me over the years is truly answering that question would be trying to answer to you a result and results are not something that you can control. We’re going to worry about this process and the process is we’re going to work as hard as we can to get the right people in here and do it the right way. If that’s your process and you do that day in and day out and every single day, we have to set a certain standard here and that standard’s going to start with the coaching staff, the personnel department, what our expectations are and my expectations are is that everyone works their hardest and gives their best every single day. But, it doesn’t truly become a standard until that’s the player’s standard and once we can get the players to own that to where we don’t have to always make sure that we’re telling people to do it, they’re actually holding each other accountable, that’s when you have something special. And that doesn’t happen overnight. You definitely have to give them direction. But, it’s just coach talk until they own it. And when they do own it, that’s when good things happen. So, at the end of this year, I hope at the end of OTA’s, I hope at the end of training camp, however long it takes, we’ll keep working to do it. But, I hope we can develop a culture here where our players have an extremely high standard, an extremely high expectation that matches exactly what the three of us are talking about up here.”
Can you kind of explain, the history of the league is littered with guys who were great OCs, who were great DCs, but they didn’t work as a head coach. How do you kind of make that transition? And then, there was a report yesterday that said you weren’t going to hire an offensive coordinator. Can you kind of explain then how the offense will work and what went into that decision as well?
KS: “Yeah, we’re going to put together a great coaching staff. I plan on calling the plays, which is usually an offensive coordinator’s duty. I don’t think it’s that important to name an offensive coordinator. We’re going to get a bunch of good coaches in here that I think a bunch of guys will eventually be capable of doing that. But, I didn’t think that was the most important thing right now, especially with myself planning on calling it. I don’t know if it will always be like that, but especially in this first year, I think it’s important to set that tone. If you look at the history of people who have been successful coordinators, not head coaches, I mean, you have to look at every situation individually and it’s what situation were they in? How much time were they given? Did they have the ability to succeed? Maybe they weren’t as good as a head coach as a coordinator and we’ll see how I am. I’m very confident that I’ll be able do a good job as a head coach. I can’t do everything the exact way I’ve done as a coordinator, but when I was a coordinator I couldn’t do everything the exact same way I did when I was a quarterback coach, or a receiver coach, or a quality control or a G.A. You have to adjust. You have to grow. You never stay the same. You’re always getting better or worse. I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life and I know I’m ready for it. I believe I’ve been ready for it for a while. I’m not going to be a finished product by any means. You better work every single day to get better and I promise you guys I will. I hope I can start off being great right away, but I know it’s going to take work and I’m not going to do everything right, but I promise you guys I’ll learn from my mistakes. You’re going to get someone committed to their job and it’ll work out.”
Has there been any communication with QB Colin Kaepernick and how are you guys approaching the process with him given his contract status going forward?
JL: “Colin reached out and we plan on visiting. That’s something Kyle and I committed too. Kyle spoke to that in order to find out what you need you have to first really take inventory of what you have. And so, we’re still very much in the process of doing that. We’re just at the beginning of it. The first order of business is Kyle and I both really attacking it and seeing what we have here and we’ll do that with his situation. We’ll sit down with him and if we see fit that he’s a part of it, we’ll commit to that. If not, we’ll figure things out.”
KS: “It starts with me with just studying people. Most of the offensive guys I haven’t studied since they were college players. The defensive guys I’ve studied to a degree because I’ve played against the Niners a couple times over the last few years. So, with me it’s, I see a lot better than I hear. I need to go watch it on tape. Colin, just like any other player, is someone I’m going to be watching a lot of tape on over these next few weeks. Before we can look into anything, free agency, draft, anything, you have to know what the players on your team are. That doesn’t happen from just turning on a game. That happens from watching a lot of stuff. It takes a lot of time. It is a process. I am a little bit behind right now, but I have the time to do it and I’m looking forward to it and can’t wait to get started on it.”