Ever since CEO Jed York relieved former head coach Jim Harbaugh of his duties, he was under the fire after promoting defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to take over as the face of the San Francisco 49ers.
It was one mistake, followed by another error — bringing on former Eagles’ head coach Chip Kelly just one season after Tomsula was ushered out of the building.
2015-16 were two years that 49ers’ fans would forever block out of their minds, going a combined 7-25 in the two seasons, and the worst part was that there was no outlook or promise for any future success.
Fans were calling for the firing of York and their staff with signs over Levi’s Stadium amidst a rocky 2016 season. After that disastrous year ended, York decided that a partnership between incumbent general manager Trent Baalke and their head coaches was not working and go in a different direction.
York was in search of a general manager and head coach combination that would be organic and push the organization forward in the right direction. It was going to be easy, as the 49ers’ roster was devoid of talent, promise, or a starting-caliber quarterback.
In January 2017, the 49ers’ CEO turned the keys of one of the most notable NFL franchises over to rookie head coach Kyle Shanahan and rookie general manager John Lynch. Neither had built of the cache or had the prior reputation that this was going to be successful, but York pushed all the chips in the middle of the table.
Giving each person a six-year contract and ensuring them of the time to patiently rebuild this roster, front office, and reward the deserving fans of a winner. San Francisco finished the first season 6-10, closing out the season with a five-game win streak behind new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
The 2018 season became a lost year due to Garoppolo’s ACL injury but netted the team star pass rusher Nick Bosa and receiver Deebo Samuel. This season, the expectations were for the 49ers to make their first playoff appearance since 2014.
Instead, they posted a 13-3 record, clinched the team’s first No. 1 seed in the 2000s, and earned a Super Bowl berth for the first time since 2012.
York has stepped out of the limelight — even much so that he didn’t grab the George Halas NFC Championship Trophy from FOX’s Terry Bradshaw. Instead, he planned to have Mike Shanahan hand the trophy directly to Shanahan.
The maturity and growth of the 49ers’ CEO in the last few years has allowed Lynch and Shanahan to star in the main roles, while quietly stacking bricks in the building of an NFC powerhouse.
After the unexpected death of brother Tony York, the 49ers’ CEO addressed the team post-game, adding that “Champions behave like champions before they’re champions. This team will be a champion someday.”
The 49ers have been building this moment since the moment that Lynch and Shanahan were brought onto the scene exactly three years ago. York’s patience with the front office, coaching staff, and development of the bottom-feeder into a dominant force shall be complimented, and it’s now being rewarded with a trip to the Super Bowl.