The alpha dogs ran all over Jed York and it’s why the 49ers are in ruins now – Yahoo Sports
Jim Harbaugh, run out.
Jim Tomsula, paid to leave.
Trent Baalke, escorted off the property.
Chip Kelly, tossed with the bath water.
Three head coaches and one general manager fired in two years.
Unless pink-slipping his own shadow is on the agenda, San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York is running out of credible options to pawn off blame. That’s what this is all about. Call it fixing a mistake or paying a final price for the Harbaugh cratering. Actually, let’s be frank and call it what it is: Jed’s fault, Jed’s mistakes, Jed’s responsibility. That’s what has delivered this mess – Jed York’s failure to stand up to an alpha male and assert his own decision-making power. This implosion isn’t just the fallout of Harbaugh’s grinding personality or Tomsula being in over his head. And it’s not simply Baalke’s roster management or Kelly’s offensive system.
Instead, it’s a bit of all of those things, and a lot of Jed York.
He’s the common denominator. The only guy left standing. The one with a pile of losses and nobody left to pin them on. If the last two years have showcased anything, it’s that York’s crisis management has been poor at best. Stick Baalke with the roster failures. Suggest he was an undermining element in coaching management. But don’t blame him for solely running the franchise into a wall, because Jed York was along for the ride. It was York’s car. And he rarely (if ever) pumped the brakes when things were getting out of control.
This is why now is the time for York to step up and be accountable. He addressed the media Monday, telling the San Jose Mercury News, “First I want to let the fans know I apologize for a 2-14 season, I apologize for being back here again making a change, but I think it’s important we reestablish a championship culture.”
It was time for him to point the finger at himself. As CEO, he could have been a bigger influence on Baalke. He could have asserted himself. Instead, he played the beta to Baalke’s alpha.
• When the relationship between Harbaugh and Baalke went completely off the rails in 2014, York could have been the steadying influence. He could have been the voice of reason. Instead, York fell in line behind his general manager, helping to shove a quality head coach out the door, destroying a Super Bowl window that should have stretched for years.
• When Adam Gase was poised to become the next head coach of the 49ers in 2015, York sat by when Baalke put qualifiers on the hire. Specifically, whether Gase would be allowed to choose his own defensive coordinator. If Baalke effectively spiked the Gase hire (and that’s the story that is being circulated by York’s backers), there’s no sign whatsoever that the CEO stood up and asserted his reservations with the decision.
• York was influenced by Baalke to elevate an underqualified Tomsula from defensive line assistant to head coach. Hindsight is 20-20, and the way the story is told now is that Baalke pushed the hire on York. Once again, he failed to make the meaningful (or correct) contribution to a decision that would shape his franchise for years.
• Making the “splash” hire of Kelly a season ago again proved to be a mismatch of styles, roster and personalities between the front office and coaching staff. A move that left full personnel power in the hands of Baalke at a time when the logical choice was to part company and install Tom Gamble as the general manager.
Looking back, those are four moments when York should have been more. More assertive. More demanding. More dialed in to what the 49ers needed and whether his general manager was still a good fit for his franchise. Instead, he receded and let Baalke take the controls.
That’s why the 49ers are in this mess right now, with fans paying massively overpriced personal seat licenses for a product that hasn’t lived up to the promised “investment” potential. Now fans know exactly what they were buying with all those loans and financial commitments: a beautiful new stadium and a CEO who wasn’t completely in control of the team inside it. Someone who either refused to stand up to his general manager’s decisions or didn’t have the fortitude or experience to understand that it was necessary in the first place.
Which is how the Niners ended up at this crossroads. It was a messy affair in which word began to leak out nearly a week ago that nobody in the building was safe, a clean sweep could be on the horizon and Kelly’s coaching staff wasn’t what the front office had hoped for. That Baalke had mismanaged coaching hires and roster additions, and a total retooling needed to take place.
These were the whispers in the personnel community over the past week. But most striking in those assessments was the absence of one name: Jed York. That made the leaks feel dirty, like the skids were being greased and blame was being assigned days in advance. That was expected, of course. That’s how many NFL firings work. But this blast radius feels engineered to leave one guy largely unscathed. The same guy who has been as close as anyone to the arguments, failures and undercutting.
“I own this football team. You don’t dismiss owners,” York said on Monday. “I’m sorry that’s the facts and that’s the case, but that’s the fact and I’m going to do everything I can to get this right.”
Over the past two years, he fired everyone but himself. But in doing so, he made it clear who shoulders the ultimate blame for the mess in San Francisco.
It’s Jed York. The only one left to blame.
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