SANTA CLARA — Jed York’s third annual firing press conference generated zero evidence that the CEO has learned from his previous mistakes and can rescue the 49ers from another giant mess he’s created.
Question by question, you could hear the rehearsed answers. You could see him squirming on stage. If at all possible, the State of the Union address hurt what little credibility York was holding onto.
The quote that will stand out, and the one that should frighten 49ers fans to the point where they consider seeking another NFL team to root for, was the notion that York would give up his power overseeing the football operation.
“I own this football team. You don’t dismiss owners,” York said. “I’m sorry that that’s the facts and that’s the case, but that’s the fact.”
A chilling moment in another episode of the 49ers reboot. The star of this show is the same: an owner unwilling to admit his blip of success was just that — a shooting star, a blue moon. And, yep, it was asked: York still was unwilling to admit releasing Jim Harbaugh was the wrong move.
The root of the problem is still the same. York wants all the power and all the glory if the 49ers ever win again. He wants to feel involved with the football team, not like some back room corporate suit. Jed, this is the problem: everything you’ve touched the last three years has either died a football death or is thriving in a different setting elsewhere. You need help running this football team.
York cares about success for the 49ers, as long as he’s the one delivering it. Forget the notion that a team president is going to walk in here and usurp the hiring and firing power.
Regardless of CBS Sports’ false report about York stepping to the side, an owner taking this type of tone the day after a 2-14 season still has many lessons to learn. Unfortunately, that probably means another wrong regime hiring. York even insinuated his words were empty on Monday.
“Nothing that I’m going to say is going to be a satisfactory answer,” York said.
Sometimes York’s intentions are right. He sent out a mass text message to players last night, telling them he had fired Chip Kelly. He met with players this morning to talk about the direction of the team. He rightly said the GM and the next head coach need to get along and share the same football philosophy.
““We need to be open to the right structure with the right people. We need to get the right people,” York said. “And, it can’t be, you know, ‘I have the 53-man roster and you need to go back to your office.’ We can’t have that.”
But because he only communicates once a year to his players and the fan base, addressing firings and hirings, there is nothing behind his words. Just lips moving. His promises are as empty as this 49ers roster. When given the opportunity to ask York questions, none of the players spoke up Monday at a team meeting in the auditorium. Not one.
That’s the culture problem. York looks in the mirror and sees himself as a young Eddie DeBartolo Jr. This fan base, these 49ers players — and now coaches and executives around the league — see quite the opposite.
York is supposed to be able to identify the proper leadership for the 49ers but is unwilling to admit his own faults as a leader. Using Paraag Marathe as your sole advisor is not working. Creating a championship culture is about a collaboration of minds, not feeling egotistical that you won’t be involved.
“You can say whatever you want about having one year. I didn’t see the future going the right way and I didn’t see us being able to reestablish that championship culture,” York said. “You have to be willing to make those tough decisions.”
Jed, there’s one more tough decision to be made. You don’t need to fully step away from football operations, but you need someone else to oversee it.
Maybe at a 2019 January press conference, you’ll be ready to admit it.