Frisco is ablaze. Call 911. Everything and everyone is on fire.
49ers CEO Jed York has a very unfortunate pipe dream. York has a proclivity for seeing a mirage in the vast landscape that is the NFL. Out on the horizon, York always envisions a better option to manage and coach his franchise.
Harbaugh, Tomsula, Kelly. Three seasons, three firings of San Francisco 49ers head coaches, along with their respective coaching staff, I might add.
This past month, the 49ers made it official that both Head Coach Chip Kelly and General Manager Trent Baalke have been relieved of their duties.
“Despite my feelings for Trent and Chip, I felt the decision to change our football leadership was absolutely necessary,” team York said in a statement a short time after the firings. “The performance of this team has not lived up to my expectations or those of our fans, and that is truly disappointing. We all expected to see this team progress and develop as the season went on, but unfortunately that did not happen. That is why now is the time to find a new direction for this team.”
Baalke had two years remaining on his contract, while Kelly had three.
Though the estimates vary widely, it is crystal clear that the 49ers owe some people a lot of money. ESPN’s Adam Shefter reports a figure of $69 million. That’s a lot of money to be paying people to not coach.
For a storied franchise, the grass is always greener. With each firing comes the illusion that the next regime will win, and win immediately. York and his band of delusional compatriots are searching for a person that can win in the NFL: a person that has character, and someone who is a true leader of exceptional athletes. They are searching for the very person they fired, just three years ago. Or should I say, “mutually agreed to part ways with.”
Questions need to be asked about the 49ers front office. No, you can’t fire an owner, but if it were an option, it would be extremely beneficial. York has mismanaged the 49ers beyond belief.
First, let’s look at the “mutual separation” between Harbaugh and the 49ers. Jim Harbaugh went 44-19-1 during his 2011-2014 tenure in charge of the 49ers. Following an 8-8 season, York decided that Harbaugh, the 2011 Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year, must go. Though it was originally reported to be a mutual separation, Harbaugh has since said the contrary.
“Yes, I was told I wouldn’t be the coach anymore,” Harbaugh said in an interview with San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami. “You can call it ‘mutual,’ I mean, I wasn’t going to put the 49ers in the position to have a coach that they didn’t want any more. But that’s the truth of it. I didn’t leave the 49ers. I felt like the 49er hierarchy left me.”
In the two ensuing seasons, neither the loyal, former 49ers Defensive Line Coach Jim Tomsula nor the former Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly were given a true chance to succeed at the helm. Both were hired with the semblance of support from the front office, but when it came time for York to have faith in the guys he had put in charge, he ousted both coaches and the entirety of the staff they had assembled after just one season.
What we’re left with is a franchise coming off a 2-14 season with no offensive or defensive identity. The only identity in San Francisco right now is that of a front office that is unwilling to allow a coaching staff to succeed.