When 49ers CEO Jed York introduced Chip Kelly as his team’s new head coach almost a year ago, and he said he was excited about what it meant for the future of the franchise.
“We’ve been working tirelessly to get the 49ers back to championship form,” said York in the news conference. “The first big step is hiring the right head coach, and I couldn’t be more excited than to hire Chip Kelly.”
Almost 12 months later, Kelly is gone and so is general manager Trent Baalke. After a 2-14 season, the Niners have sunk even further and are now building a front office and coaching staff (again) from scratch. York currently is conducting interviews across the nation with candidates for both positions.
But this time, York’s quest is more crucial than ever. After shuffling through head coaches Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tomsula and Kelly – and their staffs – in three consecutive seasons, the 49ers have no clue what type of team they are. Radical change in coaches, systems and players have created a team in disarray.
As York gets set to hire his GM and a new coaching staff, he needs to make the right hires to create stability and a winning culture. Right now, his franchise has neither.
John Kosko of the analytic website Pro Football Focus wrote Monday that the 49ers’ biggest need is a quarterback, but continuity is equally important.
“The team has had four different head coaches in four years," he wrote, counting the next hire. “Finding stability there is the most important key to success for this franchise.”
York recently said this past season was an embarrassment and that “our fans deserve better than this.” Some fans have long pointed to York as a big part of the team’s dive from one of the best teams in the NFC to the worst. But York says he’s here to stay, so it’s up to him to turn this franchise around by hiring the right people now.
“We are going to be judged on what we do and what we accomplish,” said York. “We haven’t accomplished enough. I own this football team. You don’t dismiss owners. I’m sorry that that’s the case, but that’s the fact. And I’m going to do everything that I can to get this right. This isn’t about a business and running an operation to make money.”
York said step one in the franchise re-boot was to fire both Kelly and Baalke.
“I just think it’s time for us to re-establish a championship culture,” York told Peter King of Monday Morning Quarterback. “In order to do that, I thought we had to clean house.”
Former 49ers safety and Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott says the franchise can’t keep changing coaches and hitting the re-start button. This time, York has to hire the right people.
“You’ve got to have at least a plan that says, ‘OK, here’s why, here’s what we’re going to do,’” Lott told Daniel Mano of the Bay Area News Group. “Hopefully it’s a long-term plan and hopefully they’ll get the right people around them to help make that decision.”