Last month, ESPN analyst Louis Riddick was a candidate to become the General Manager of the 49ers. At the time, Riddick labeled San Francisco the best place for a new coach of any of the six teams that had a head-coaching vacancy.
“I think the most appealing job is the one where you’re going to be able to go in and start fresh with a G.M. and a head coach,” Riddick said. “I like the situation that is coming to bear here in San Francisco. I like what Jed York is trying to do.”
The 49ers later passed over Riddick for the G.M. job and hired John Lynch, with Kyle Shanahan as head coach. And now Riddick doesn’t see that 49ers job as quite so appealing.
Today on ESPN, Riddick ranked the six teams that hired new head coaches in order of how good a situation they have, and the 49ers ranked sixth out of the six.
So what changed between then, when Riddick saw the 49ers as the best job, and now, when he sees it as the worst job?
One possible answer is that Riddick is upset that the 49ers didn’t hire him and is expressing sour grapes. That wouldn’t reflect well on him, or on ESPN for allowing an analyst to use his role on ESPN to settle a score.
Another possible answer is that Riddick learned things about the 49ers while he was interviewing that led him to believe the franchise is deeply dysfunctional, that York is an incompetent owner who meddles in football decisions, and that the front office is broken too badly for Lynch to fix. But if Riddick learned those things, shouldn’t he say so on ESPN? That is, after all, his job: To give ESPN viewers the benefit of his knowledge as an analyst.
If Riddick can’t say what he really thinks because his conversations with the 49ers were confidential, or if he can’t analyze them objectively because he’s bitter they didn’t hire him, that raises the question of why he’s opining on the 49ers at all.