SANTA CLARA – Former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo expressed confidence team CEO Jed York, his nephew, will make the adjustments needed to get the organization back on track.
“Jed will be fine,” DeBartolo said during an appearance on CSN Bay Area’s “49ers Insider Podcast.”
“I don’t talk to him as much as I used to, but he is a very, very, very smart young man, and I think he knows what he has to do, and he knows the moves that have to be made.”
The 49ers (1-8) take an eight-game losing streak into Sunday's game against the New England Patriots at Levi’s Stadium. The longest losing streak in 49ers history is nine games, which occurred in 1978 during DeBartolo’s second season of ownership. DeBartolo, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year, will be honored at the game.
“Winning becomes something you get used to,” said DeBartolo, whose teams won five Super Bowls. “Unfortunately, when you lose, it’s hard to break that, too.
“I think Jed truthfully is going to do what he has to do to turn things around. And I think he’s doing it now. There are some distractions. They have the nucleus of some really good football players on that team. And I think Coach (Chip) Kelly is going to do what he has to do.”
One of the apparent distractions to which DeBartolo alluded was Colin Kaepernick’s protest of taking a knee during the national anthem to bring awareness to racial inequalities in the United States.
DeBartolo said he believes Kaepernick has a right to express his feelings. But DeBartolo said he thinks Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh would not have been as supportive.
“I’m the type of person that believes that everybody that is born and raised in this country has a right to express their opinions and have their own opinions,” DeBartolo said.
“Now, as far as if it happened during my ownership, I would probably still take that position. I’m not so sure Coach Walsh would have. Coach Walsh was not the type of person that put up with situations that were distracting to the team. I cannot speak for him, God rest his soul, but I do know how he thought, and I do know how his great mind worked.
"And I don’t know what he would have done in a situation like that. But I don’t think he would have been happy with it. I think he would have done something very proactive. That’s just my opinion, though.”