As the host team for this Sunday’s 50th Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49ers get to be in the spotlight this week.
Unfortunately for the Niners, that’s not necessarily a good thing after a 5-11 season in 2015 and a recent history that includes the loss of a successful head coach (Jim Harbaugh), the firing of his successor (Jim Tomsula) and the collapse of a quarterback (Colin Kaepernick) who appeared just a few years ago to be a star on the rise.
First, 49ers CEO Jed York – who’s been known to make statements that aggravate loyal Niners fans – on Monday made a joke about his team that fell flat. While speaking at the official host committee function at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, York joked that the 49ers deserve a bit of credit for the good condition of the turf at Levi’s Stadium.
“(The NFL) asked us if we could not make the playoffs this year to make sure the turf was as good as possible,” York said, according to Carl Steward of the Bay Area News Group. “I said, ‘OK, if that’s what we have to do, then we’ll take that under advisement.’ ”
As one angry 49ers fan and reader responded in the comments section of the story: “Amazing. You can let everyone think you are an idiot or, as York proved, you can open your mouth and remove all doubt!!!!”
Many fans hold York and general manager Trent Baalke responsible for the team's slide from Super Bowl team to also-ran status.
Also on Monday, two former Super Bowl quarterbacks who are now television analysts – Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason – pointed to the dysfunction of the 49ers organization as a big factor in the erosion of Kaepernick, who has devolved from a quarterback who almost led his team to a Super Bowl win to a spot on the bench in three seasons.
When asked what happened to Kaepernick, Esiason told a reporter from the Bay Area News Group: “Jim Harbaugh went to Michigan. As much as I respect the coaches, as much as I respect assistant coaches in this league, I mean, Jim Tomsula?”
Simms, meanwhile, noted that Kaepernick and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton – who has taken his team to this week’s Super Bowl – both came from the 2011 draft class and that it was Kaepernick who looked like the better of the two until the past two seasons.
Simms told the media Kaepernick holds some of the blame for his setbacks, but the franchise management is responsible, too. Simms said the 49ers Super Bowl team led by Kaepernick was a terrific group.
“Look at the team now,” he said. “You don’t even recognize it. That had something to do with it.”