When an objective observer looks at the 49ers, they should go back to the root of the problem at the beginning of the decade. In 2000, the team found themselves with huge salary commitments from their glory days, their Pro Bowl quarterback, a broken Steve Young, was knocked out of the NFL, an ownership control battle ripped the team away from a proven winner, Eddie DeBartelo, and the new owners didn’t back their head coach Steve Mariucci. In this process, the city of San Francisco probably lost their team, to of all places, Santa Clara.
Could positive change finally be in the wind?
In other words, York is willing to step aside and let someone else make the decisive calls after two years of exerting his will as team president and CEO, whether it was in hiring and firing Singletary, seeing off general manager Scot McCloughan in March or promoting Trent Baalke to the top of the personnel department soon thereafter.
Still not sure if ownership is committed to winning.
This isn’t the first York to exert his will against the advice of his coach or GM. John York never gave Coach Mariucci a chance, as Terry Donohue, a 49er insider, was brought in despite never seeing eye to eye with his coach. Maybe two consecutive playoff appearances in the Garcia era made ownership believe they were on the right track? But in typical York fashion, Donohue also found himself out of a job soon thereafter. And the radical change the team needed — to be blown up — wasn’t forthcoming. Sadly, when the team did make big commitments, they made them to Alex “Turnover” Smith and Nate “Give Up the Big Play” Clements.
And that’s where Singletary stepped into the melodrama. He had some quality players, and there is a core — Willis, Davis, Crabtree, Dixon, and a young O-Line — that management can build around. But the defense and offensive play-calling each need serious upgrades. Coach Singletary wasn’t able to find consistency; a direct result of him not cutting ties with Alex Smith earlier. And that’s why he’s no longer the coach. But backing a coach, his system and the personnel who run it for more than two years will be essential to turning the 49ers around. So this little admission that the young York realizes he must start again, by choosing a GM to help rebuild the team, will hopefully be the first of many steps in the right direction.
That said, if the Yorks weren’t owners, they would have been fired too.