Live blog from Niners ‘state of the franchise’ event

The 49ers are holding their first “state of the franchise” this evening at the San Mateo Performing Arts Center.

Team president Jed York, coach Mike Singletary, general manager Scot McCloughan and chief operating officer Andy Dolich are scheduled to speak to a group of season-ticket holders.

 

The first thing that is apparent is the absence of Alex Smith’s jersey among the eight that are featured on stage. In eight lockers being used ti dress up the stage were the jerseys of Joe Staley, Shaun Hill, Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, Nate Clements, Patrick Willis, Justin Smith and Manny Lawson.

 

At 7:11 p.m., the lights dimmed and a rock video highlight package was shown from the 2008 season. After watching that, it’s hard to believe the 49ers were just 7-9.

 

The new voice of the 49ers, Ted Robinson, takes the stage and welcomes the crowd, which is smaller than advertised. The lower part of the auditorium filled, but the upper level largely unpopulated.

 

7:16 p.m.: York takes the stage.

 

He says it’s important to have direct communication with the fans of the team. He says it’s up to him to carry on the tradition and to put together the right people around him to enable the organization get back to where it has been for most of his life. (York was born in 1981.)

 

He talked about the championship culture the team is building. He reiterated what he said after the final game that it would be the last time the 49ers’ season ends in December.

 

He said the 49ers will start a S.F. 49ers Hall of Fame. The first inductees will be those 49ers who are already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

 

York said the most important is keeping all their options available for a new stadium. Hopeful a ballot can go in November for the Santa Clara option. Got option at Hunters Point and option at Candlestick Park.

 

Wants to make sure fans have easy access in and out of games. That’s why he says Santa Clara is the first priority. At Candlestick, there are not a lot of public-transportation options and in Santa Clara, there is. He said they will remain the “San Francisco 49ers.”

 

He said they’ll fight to put the 49ers back at the top of the mantel.

 

7:25 p.m.: The questions for York begin . . .

 

On shared stadium with Raiders . . . the crowd voiced its disapproval at the suggestion. York said the team wants to explore all possibilities, and the league is encouraging the teams to look into it.

 

One fan wants to hear some signs of hope . . . York said you’ll see the intensity of Coach Singletary, and you’ll see that intensity spread throughout the team. He said he’s passionate about getting the team getting back into the playoffs.

 

7:29 p.m.: Dolich takes the stage.

 

“When they said this was happening on President’s Day, I said, ‘Of course it is, Jed’s the new president.”

 

Dolich, who is well-known in the Bay Area from his work with the A’s and Warriors, claims that when he was with the Oakland Athletics, he was not on steroids.

 

Dolich says Mo Fowell, who has been VP of stadium operations, is retiring at the end of the month. Jim Mercurio will be taking over in that role.

 

The 49ers have created a team for ticket sales and services.

 

7:41 p.m.: McCloughan is announced to the crowd . . .

 

He said he’s the first one to admit that they haven’t had as many wins as they’d like. He said they’ve made some tough decisions that are going to work out.

 

He said change is inevitable in the NFL. He said the toughest decision was firing Mike Nolan. He said ownership showed a lot of faith himself and Singletary, with Singletary getting the four-year contract to be head coach.

 

McCloughan said he’ll bypass the glitz

 

He thinks the process of hiring Jimmy Raye as O.C. was organized and methodical. McCloughan said he learned a lot of football through the interview process. With Raye, over 30 years of experience, he’s going to be good, simple and to the point.

 

He said the hiring of Mike Johnson as QBs coach is a good hands-on coach, who will prove to be a valuable asset to the organization.

 

He said philosophy is not to build a team through free agency. You can address needs in free agency. He said he wants to draft well and extend their own guys. He wants draft picks to grow as 49ers. He said free agency is a tool that will be used.

 

He said the 49ers will be in the top 6 or 7 teams as far as cap space, but that doesn’t mean they’ll blow it on one or two players. He did say, however, that he expects to sign four to six free agents. He also said he wants to extend some of the young players.

 

The 49ers will have nine draft picks (including two compensatory picks).

 

He said he’s made mistakes in the past and he’ll make mistakes in the future, but he learns from his mistakes. He said the organization will stick together and in the end they’ll celebrate together.

 

7:50 p.m.: He takes questions . . .

 

Positions of interest in free agency: offensive line, safety, wjde receiver and quarterback. In free agency, the team can pinpoint what they need and address it.

 

At No. 10 draft pick  . . . he said you can’t pass on the best football player. “You can never have enough good football players.”

 

On Alex Smith . . . discussions are on-going. Team will do what’s best for the organization. He’s been through a lot and been though. He said he still believes he’s going to be a good QB in the NFL. He said he wants it to be with the 49ers. They’ll welcome him back.

 

7:54 p.m.: A video of Mike Singletary is shown to the enthusiastic crowd, and he walks on stage to a standing ovation.

 

Singletary said he is excited about this night and thankful to the organization to have the thought to create something like this to give the fans a better of idea of what the team is trying to do. The team started in 1946. “There were good teams and OK teams, but I’m going to fast-forward” to the era of Eddie DeBartolo’s ownership.

 

Singletary talks about the hiring of Bill Walsh. He said when you spoke to Walsh, you knew you talked to somebody who had a vision. He said the tradition started because one man had a vision of what he wanted it to look like. He said when he looks around the NFL, he said he’s amazed at how many teams have a dream, and how few teams have a vision.

 

A vision is different. A vision is something that captures the imagination and consumes you like fire. It won’t let you eat or sleep until that vision comes to pass. Singletary said the 49ers of 2009 have a vision. He said he did not come to motivate or to impress so the fans would buy more season tickets.

 

He said he wants winners. He wants players who are willing to work hard and respect the game. He said in practice, they’ll do it over and over and over until they get it right.

 

He said he has a great coaching staff and a great supporting cast with the Yorks, McCloughan, etc. “If it were just me, I’d be shaking in my boots,” he said. “But with a team like that . . . we will get there.”

 

First and foremost, “we will be a team when you come to the game, you’ll be proud and excited.”

 

“My challenge to you tonight, because it takes all of us, and that’ includes you, is to not sit back and see what the new regime is doing or wondering if they’re going to do it,” Singletary said. “My challenge, don’t wait. I’m here to tell you, it will come to pass. Be there from the beginning.”

 

8:07 p.m.: The four speakers come back on stage to take questions:

 

Asked if Shaun Hill will be the starting QB: Singletary says he’s thankful to have Shaun Hill. (Applause.) One of the reasons he’s reluctant to say Hill will be the starter is because he wants competition. He wants the quarterback who gives the team the best chance to win, and the best player is going to play.

 

A question about Lawson and his ability to rush the passer . . . Singletary said he sees Lawson as a good football player. Singletary said the knee injury set Lawson back for maybe a year-and-a-half. Toward the end of the season saw the old Lawson come back. He said he sees him stepping in and doing a great job.

 

Question to York  . . . is the stadium closer to being built in Santa Clara . . . once he sees they’re in a full partnership with Santa Clara, they’ll be closer to getting something happen.

 

Question for Singletary, how do you change moral victories into real victories? “I know you don’t know me very well,” Singletary said. “I’m not a moral victory guy.”

 

Another question for Singletary . . .  have you considered using Delanie Walker as a fullback? Singletary said it depends on what you look for. If you’re looking for someone to blow somebody up as a blocker, Walker might not be the guy. Walker, in Singletary’s opinion, is a guy you want to move and create mismatches with as a receiver.

 

A fan asked about the hiring of O.C. Jimmy Raye, said he didn’t understand why they didn’t hire somebody with a better track record. Singletary said he liked Mike Martz. But he said it’s one thing when you’re talking to somebody and you have to read body language. He said it’s one thing when a person is talking with a buttoned-up lip. (“I can do that.”) This job is hard enough when you’re working with people who are in direct alignment with what you believe. He said the best thing was to let Martz go find someone to match with his thought process. Singletary said he wants to create a balance and at the same time create chemistry to feel good about who you’re working with. “That, to me, is what I was trying to find and that’s what I found in Jimmy Raye.” He admitted, on paper, he wouldn’t get excited about Jimmy Raye over Mike Martz. But Singletary said Raye is the right fit for the 49ers right now.

 

Question for McCloughan, what is the probability of attracting a quality quarterback . . . he said bringing in a big name, such as Matt Cassel, is not feasible. He said he knows the 49ers will need to get deeper this year.

 

Question for York about the safety of Candlestick . . . he said he wants to make sure it’s the best possible venue for the 49ers. The 49ers have a lease at Candlestick Park through 2023. Dolich said the structural integrity and fan safety at Candlestick is the highest priority.

 

Question for Singletary . . . fan wants the 49ers’ corners to play more bump-and-run coverage. Singletary said he should have defensive coordinator Greg Manusky with him to answer that. He said it’s difficult to sit here and be composed. He said the kind of football the 49ers have played is not what the fans are used to. He said he wants to play “physical with an ‘F.'”

 

Question for McCloughan . . . fan questions what’s going to be different with him owning the “trigger.” McCloughan said opportunity to be right on a player is easier when you take the glitz and glamour out of it. He asked, rhetorically, why Brandon Williams or Alex Smith haven’t worked out. Those are the questions that are asked and the personnel department is always trying to get better.

 

Question to Dolich: When are the 49ers going to change uniforms back to normal? Dolich asks the crowd if the 49ers should change uniforms. The crowd responds enthusiastically. Dolich says, “Stay tuned.” He said, don’t be surprised if you see the old colors back in the future.”

 

And at 8:37 p.m., the Q&A session concludes.

 

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