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The one person that could talk Jed York into stepping aside: Eddie D


SANTA CLARA — In the next month, the NFL world is going to learn everything it needs to know about Jed York, chief decision-maker of the San Francisco 49ers.

The biggest choice York will make in January won’t revolve around the fates of GM Trent Baalke and first-year head coach Chip Kelly, but rather himself.

Is the acting owner of the 49ers ready to concede his shortcomings as a football executive, willing to step aside, and let an experienced visionary leader dictate the direction of the franchise?

Or will York be on another mission to demonstrate his power, making another January firing, another suspicious hiring and steering the franchise further off course into the Bay Area abyss?

The most embarrassing season in franchise history firmly puts the ball is in York’s court. And this isn’t about winning back credibility with the angriest fan base in the NFL. This about turning the 49ers back into a winner in the quickest fashion possible.

Jason La Canfora’s report was shared thousands of times because it’s the exact scenario that would immediately change the fortune of this franchise. Bringing in a credible football mind to hire/fire coaches and GM’s is a power structure that has worked time and time again in the NFL. La Canfora went back on KNBR Tuesday, defending his report against Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio’s.

The problem: asking a billionaire to look in the mirror and relinquish power in such a public fashion seems impossible. York’s not even 40 years old yet. He helped hire Jim Harbaugh, proving he’s hit a home run before. Why would a powerful CEO with a long career ahead of him choose to be a neutered dog if he doesn’t have to?

This is the reason: If York continues stumbling around Santa Clara, he’s well on his way to becoming the West Coast version of Daniel Snyder. Washington’s owner continually destroyed the Redskins with his own decision-making — the team has not had back-to-back winning seasons in Snyder’s 18 years of ownership. Ask Dan Snyder if he wished he would do anything differently and he could write you a 700 page essay on what he’d do differently — starting with backing away from football operations, which he’s now finally done.

If York swings and misses again this offseason, the 49ers are about to become the Redskins, continually in a state of chaos.

There’s only one man who could convince York to take a backseat. That’s the former owner of this franchise, and his uncle, Eddie DeBartolo.

DeBartolo was in attendance for the Patriots loss earlier in the season, in what was essentially a road game for the 49ers. There should be only one argument to make: create a winning culture. That’s the only thing that matters and York can no longer try and do this on his own.

DeBartolo has to be the one who sits York down. It can’t be anyone else. Perhaps York will laugh off his uncle, or perhaps there’s a way Eddie D can persuade York that many other owners in the NFL are fully behind the curtains. It’s not the worst thing in the world, especially if it’ll restore this organization to prominence. Plus, York can have a say in who ends up being the top executive running the football team.

York has to understand this: he’s the one pigeonholing this 49ers franchise as a poisonous place to play and coach football. Not Jim Tomsula, not Baalke, not Kelly. It’s York who needs to prove to the Bay Area he cares more about winning than money and power, and the only way to do that will be to demote himself — which again, I know, seems impossible.

The easy way out for York would be to keep Chip Kelly and promote assistant GM Tom Gamble. It would be fair to Kelly to give him a personnel guy that will give him more adequate tools to run his offense — starting with a brand new quarterback who can complete passes, drafting a receiver early and acquiring another big name in free agency. But what happens when Kelly/Gamble go 5-11 next season? We’ll be right back at square one.

A way York could meet his doubters in the middle is if he hired a completely different GM from outside of the building, and let that person decide whether to keep Kelly or not. If York demands that the said GM automatically has to work with Kelly, though, he’ll be picking from a much smaller pool of talent evaluators, and he’ll be creating friction from the jump.

The one scenario that seems the most attractive is the one La Canfora has floated.

No more Jed at introductory press conferences. No more Jed giving any type of final say on player contracts. Just write the checks, focus on the business side and make sure everybody is happy.

Dreams can come true, right?


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