If it seems as if you’ve heard more about the 49ers in the past week than in the first 16 weeks of the 2010 NFL season, it’s because you have. With coach Mike Singletary fired and owner Jed York embarking on hiring a new G.M. and a new head coach, York has been talking a lot about his plans for the future.
Most recently, he spoke with Albert Breer of NFL Network, and York confirmed that he has spoken with former Dolphins V.P. of football operations Bill Parcells, whose next career step could be providing one-shot consulting for any team willing to make a significant donation to Parcells’ favorite charity (i.e., the Tuna Fund).
York also is getting advice from his uncle, former Niners owner Eddie DeBartolo.
“More than anything, he’s told me to trust your gut,” York told Breer regarding DeBartolo’s input. “The key is hiring the right people, who want to grind together, who enjoy working together. That’s what happened here with Bill [Walsh) and [former director of football operations] John McVay. People weren’t sure that Bill was the right coach, and after what happened with the Giants, McVay was questioned, too.
“Neither was the sexy hire. But they worked together, each guy was looking for the same thing, and knew exactly what the other wanted. You could tell exactly what the San Francisco 49ers were.”
It’s far easier said than done, however, to bob for the best apples in a pool of ambitious men who currently aren’t well known but who currently have very high ambitions and aspirations. They’re all in the business to get big jobs and win big games, and they’ll say what they have to say to get their first real shot.
So how can York, who’s still on the short side of 30, be able to sift through a stack of no-name candidates and pick the best two men to work together, based on a “gut” that has yet to be fully honed via years of making decisions that turned out well — and decisions that turned out not so well?
That’s why York’s “gut” is apparently telling him to make the safe play, and to promote V.P. of football operations Trent Baalke to G.M. Sure, there may be better candidates (including a collection of names compiled by Breer in a separate area of the same article, none of whom have landed on the Niners’ radar yet). But the fringe roster that Baalke has helped craft is only a Cousin Larry and a competent quarterback away from being a contender. Why hire a guy with an equal or lower “Q” rating than Baalke, if someone other than Baalke possibly would want to make dramatic changes to the team that Baalke built?
York’s “gut” also is telling him that decisions of this nature require a healthy dose of P.R. elbow grease, and so he’s dropping names like Parcells and DeBartolo to give legitimacy to a G.M. search that many believe is a sham aimed at creating the impression that York beat enough bushes before deciding to go with the bird in his hand.
It may work. Or it may fail. Either way, the experience York gains will make his “gut” even better suited to guide him through the minefield the next time he’s hiring a new G.M. and/or head coach.