Earlier this month, another Dat Winning fellow Andrew Tie wrote of his hatred of Austin Rivers and it made perfect sense – Andrew bleeds Carolina blue and Mr. Rivers went to “that school over in Durham.” He’s supposed to hate Duke guards, it’s in his DNA. I wish it was that simple for me. What do you do when the thing you hate is also part of something you love?
I hate Jed York. I hate his stupid haircut. I hate that he asks for accountability, then won’t say how that is even possible. I hate the name Jed. What kind of name is Jed anyway. Jed.
Above all of these other reasons however, I hate Jed York because he’s bad at his job and it is going to directly impact my own happiness.
The York family took over the Niners after former owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. ceded the team to his sister Denise and her husband John after his involvement in a corruption scandal in Louisiana. Since then, things have been quite dismal; the Denise and John ran the team for the better part of a decade, before giving control of the team and ownership to their son, Jed. And things had been looking up in the first few years of Jed’s reign: three straight trips to the NFC title game, one Super Bowl appearance, a new stadium got built, and some shrewd drafting/personnel decisions had the team trending up. But this past winter, it’s all started to fall apart again.
I think the single hardest thing for a franchise to overcome in sports is poor ownership. Bad coaches and bad personnel will cycle through, but getting out from the thumb of ineffective ownership can take decades. And with franchise values skyrocketing and TV revenues soaring to similar heights, there’s less of an incentive for owners to sell than ever.
I’ve had a front row seat to the scourge of bad ownership for many years, being a fan of the Golden State Warriors and growing up in the Chris Cohan era.The Warriors had only one playoff appearance in the fifteen years that he owned the team. Under his “leadership” the franchise was adrift, floating from failed lottery pick to failed lottery pick, and coach to coach. There was an atmosphere of mistrust around the front office, one over-empowered front office guy with too much leash, and a general missing sense of collaboration. Then Cohan sold the Warriors to Joe Lacob and Co. and the Warriors are in the Western Conference finals for the first time in almost 40 years, with a bright future ahead of them.
Many of the same indicators from those dark days in Oakland are starting to be seen in the front office of the Niners now. GM Trent Baalke now has basic control over all personnel decisions and seems to answer to no one. They screwed up the coaching situation in a big way, with leaks and rumors coming out of the front office during the season that undermined the head coach, followed by Jim Harbaugh’s firing. Then a lie saying that the parting was mutual.
Right after the firing (I refuse to call it a mutual parting like they do), Jed sat down for an interview with a local radio station that quickly turned disastrous. He couldn’t provide answers to simple questions, then when cornered spouted jibberish:
Jed: “Winning isn’t the only thing that matters. Winning with class is what matters.”
Q: Were you not winning with class?
Jed: Are you not going to blast us for off the field stuff for the last three or four years?
Q: Was that Jim Harbaugh’s fault?
Jed: “Collectively it was all of our fault.”
Q: So why weren’t there more heads rolling other than Jim Harbaugh’s? Should Trent Baalke have been held accountable and maybe a mutual parting of ways with him?
Jed: “I mean, I think Trent and I are philosophically aligned on what we want to do with this team.”
Q: So winning with class is a huge thing, you mentioned it yesterday, you mentioned it again today. So this is now maybe, we’re getting sort of closer to the smoking gun. This is a problem you had with the Harbaugh era?
Jed: “No, I mean, this isn’t on Jim, this is on the collective group of us. It’s equally on me, Jim and Trent.”
Q: So why was Jim the one to pay the price?
Jed: “He wasn’t the one to pay the price for that. This is just something we need to concentrate on and focus on as we move forward.”
We are “philosophically aligned?” Next time I get a speeding ticket, I’m telling the officer that my car and I are philosophically aligned, so it’s chill.
The rest of the offseason hasn’t gone any better. Instead of turning up a quality head coach candidate, they promoted former Defensive Line Coach Jim Tomsula who comes off as little more than a flopsweated “yes man.” Patrick Willis retired, then his younger replacement Chris Borland followed suit a week later citing fear of head trauma, turning a strength into a weakness. They also swung and missed on the assistant coaches the wanted to bring in, and lost one of the best defensive coordinators in the league to the Bears.
I listened to the interview and became scared, not merely due to the implied incompetence but because I know where it leads. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to another dismal stretch of third and fourth place finishes in the NFC West.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope this was a blip and not a trend, that the management and ownership of my favorite football team are struggling but learning. And I hope the team continues to find success and manages to beat Seattle once a year or so. But I don’t believe it.
Who’s got it better than us?
“Most teams, minus the Jaguars” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Meanwhile in Michigan…
Hope you’re having fun in the north Jim. You picked a good time to one-two step out of here.
Cover photo: Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images.
BRIAN WONG | @bigbwong
Brian Wong is a third-generation Chinese American and Bay Area native. NBA fan, Golden State Warriors fanatic. Brian is a 2015 Dat Winning fellow.