A few hours after his press conference Monday, 49ers president and CEO Jed York was on KNBR with Ted Robinson, the team’s play-by-play announcer who was serving as a fill-in host.
The interview didn’t cover much new ground, but York had a chance to be a bit more expansive on topics such as the relationship he wants the future general manager and head coach to possess, the need to address the problems at the quarterback position, the 49ers current lack of an identity and whether it’s important to hire an offensive-minded coach.
San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami writes here that Jon Gruden and Jim Harbaugh are the primary head-coaching candidates. Kawakami says the ability to lure/work effectively with Gruden or Harbaugh would be a significant consideration in the hiring of a GM. Something to consider when reading the KNBR interview below.
Here are the highlights:
What sort of a role is Eddie DeBartolo Jr. serving for you going forward?
JY: He’s been an advisor the whole time that I’ve been involved with the 49ers. He’s been a great help to me, just being able to bounce ideas off of him. Making introductions to folks that maybe I don’t know. He’s been great at doing things like that.
Will he be able to assist you in your search for a general manager as far as making introductions?
JY: Yeah, absolutely. More than anything I’m bouncing ideas off of him and getting his feedback. And then I think the things that he’s said and the things that I’m thinking on my own – it’s got to be about the structure. When you look at Bill (Walsh) and John McVay, Bill brought in John McVay, and I realize that’s a coach bringing in a general manager, but you had two guys who were working together hand-in-hand. And that’s what we need here. We need two guys, the GM and the head coach, who are going to work hand-in-hand together and not be about ego. Not be about it’s mine or it’s yours — it’s about the 49ers. And that’s where we need to begin.
How important is credibility? The credibility of the people that you will hire?
JY: I think it’s very important. But, again, I think it’s important that when you look at credibility, you’re not going to know every person that we’re talking to and every person that we’re bringing in. I mean, you look at (GM) Thomas Dimitroff and you look at (head coach) Mike Smith in Atlanta. And when those guys were hired, people knew Thomas from his Patriots days. A lot of people didn’t know who Mike Smith was. But those guys are a team and they function as a team. And I’d much rather have a system like that where you have guys that have no ego that are all about building a championship-caliber team than having one or two big egos that might not be able to work together and it’s not about the team, it’s about the individual.
Would you be OK hiring relative unknowns?
JY: If they were the best fit for the 49ers, then absolutely. Especially for the GM I’m going to do a pretty exhaustive search on guys who have been there and have done it in the past. Obviously Trent Baalke is in the mix, he’s been there. I know Trent. I know the things that Trent is capable of. But I want to make sure that we take an opportunity and look at the people that are out there and see who’s going to be best for the 49ers.
Is it essential to hire a GM who has done the job before?
JY: I don’t think it’s essential, but I want to make sure we sit down and talk to people that have done it before.
Is it important to have and honor an identity of the 49er franchise?
JY: You have to have an identity. And I think that we are missing that identity right now. We don’t know … we have one or two bad things happen – you look at the San Diego game. Something goes wrong where Justin Smith makes a mistake — I know he didn’t realize that it was a referee that was grabbing him. Something like that happens, the game sort of turns on its head at that point and we lose our focus. And there’s nothing to go back to, there’s not an identity to go back to. Where the 49ers of Bill Walsh, they knew what their identity was. You see the championship-caliber teams, they know what their identity is. That’s what we need to establish.
Is the identity of the 49ers Bill Walsh and his offense?
JY: I mean, I think that’s a piece of the 49ers history. But it’s not Bill Walsh’s offense that’s coming back. Bill Walsh was the architect of the 49ers success, but we can’t get stuck in saying it only has to be Bill Walsh’s offense to come in here. I think that’s a great offense, the West Coast offense, but we need to have an identity that our general manager and our head coach can really put into effect. And then the players really take on their lead and they execute it on the field.
Do you have feelings on what side of the ball a head coach should come from?
JY: I think I said this in the press conference earlier today, it’s less important to me what side of the ball, but we’ve had a lot of struggles on offense. We haven’t had continuity on offense. So I’d be more likely to say we’re looking for an offensive-minded coach. But, again, that’s going to be the general manager that drives that. I want to make sure that whoever the GM is and whatever we’re doing in our head-coach search, we understand that we need some continuity on offense. We need some continuity at the quarterback position. And that’s going to be very, very important to me.
Is it important that the GM shares that vision?
JY: I don’t think there are many guys who are out there in the league that have been general managers or want to be general managers that wouldn’t tell you that success starts at the quarterback. I think just about every one would tell you success starts at the quarterback. So with that being said, how do you make sure we have the most success we can have whether you have a superstar quarterback or you don’t have a superstar quarterback. It’s a lot easier to get it done if you have a superstar quarterback. But if you don’t have one, how do you build a structure to support a guy in there that might be average, but he can still win you a Super Bowl.
Have you been able to even start thinking about the quarterback position?
JY: That’s not my forte. But we need to address that position. And that’s very apparent from where we have been. And that’s something the GM and the head coach, once they’re in place, that will be one of their top priorities.