49ers

York has his work cut out for him in replacing Kelly, Baalke

York has his work cut out for him in replacing Kelly, Baalke

SANTA CLARA -- There must be something inherently charming about Jed York that he keeps hidden from the rest of us, given that he manages to fire people and still get them to finish their projects. Most bosses have to have someone from HR in the room and a security guard outside in case things get hinky.

But Trent Baalke showed up for his last official day as the team’s general manager even though he’d been fired two days before (and despite an erroneous Twitrumor that he’d been escorted from the stadium by security), and Chip Kelly coached his final game as though there was still something to prove.

Of course, Game 16 went down the same as most of Games 2-through-15. The 49ers took an early lead, couldn’t hold it and lost to the Seattle Seahawks, 25-23. They played hard, even getting into several scraps with the ever-obstreperous Hawks, but all they managed to nail down in the end was one last cruddy memory and the second pick in the April 27 NFL Draft.

A draft, most people agree, that won’t provide the new general manager and coach, the old owner or the rapidly aging fan base a nucleus around to which to build the next glorious age.

In short, everyone played their roles to the end – the players praised Kelly, Kelly praised the players, Baalke did his radio show for one last round of justifications and then faded back into the mists, and York was conspicuous by his much-voted absence.

And two hours and eight minutes after the game, Kelly got the horse’s head Baalke had been given. Once again, Jed told us something he doesn’t like without giving any indication of what he does like. And perpetual dissatisfaction is no way to run a business.

In other words, with all this change, there wasn’t much change at all.

You see, while most folks will be focusing on the identities of the next GM and coach (or coach and GM, if Jed decides to work backwards), the atmosphere is what needs the biggest workover. There is no compelling reason for excitement around either of these vacancies, no more than for the Chargers’ coaching job (Mike McCoy got canned after losing to the Chiefs), the Rams’ coaching job (Jeff Fisher was canned nine days after being extended), the Jaguars’ coaching job (Gus Bradley got it on a plane ride home), the Bills’ coaching job (Rex Ryan cleared space for Anthony Lynn to lose his first game), the Broncos’ coaching job (Gary Kubiak announced he is stepping down), or possibilities in Arizona, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and New Orleans.

And yes, it figures that the 49ers would be looking for a new coach when the market is replete with more stable offerings.

As for the general manager gig, it comes with its own set of worries – namely, what kind of general manager Jed wants. He wanted Baalke until it became untenable for him to stay. He wanted Mike Nolan until the load of two jobs caused him to fail at both. He wanted Scot McCloughan until his personal issues became too much to handle. Indeed, he has valued his general managers far more dearly than his coaches, and that was even before Jim Harbaugh ruined his opinion on coaches by being too much like Jim Harbaugh.

But York fancies himself a better judge of employees than he has the evidence to prove, so there is no compelling reason for the quiver of excitement to overtake the fan base, or the look of sullen admiration from his fellow operators that he somehow found a diamond necklace in a kiddie pool. He isn’t even good at explaining what he intends to do, why he intends to do it or even what methodology he would employ.

That is, until he seeks out the wisdom of the national media on the theory that validation and name-dropping go hand in hand.

So until someone can explain what Jed actually wants his football operation to be, the identities almost don’t matter. The order of hiring almost matters more, because if he hires the coach first, it means he still believes he has a special insight into the game that allows him the luxury of not deferring to people who should know acres more on the subject.

Jed is good at several things – making a stadium turn into an ATM machine, avoiding the public, firing people and paying coaches not to work for him. Other than the money thing, none of these are useful social skills or confidence-builders.

And that is what he needs most right now – a way to indicate not just to unhappy fans but to the hiring pool that he actually does have a grasp on this football business, even if his grasp is to let go of it and hand it to someone who can repair what he has wrought. The “it’s one of 32 jobs so anyone would be desperate to have it” logic doesn’t work when the brand has been so comprehensively devalued.

So here’s where we are. Jed has to sell himself to people who know more than him to work for him, and his record is so tatty that it won’t do it for him. After all, no new job candidate will be comforted with “Well, I have a lot of experience firing people and paying them afterward” as a selling point.

Joe Montana: Dwight Clark appreciates all the support from former teammates

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AP

Joe Montana: Dwight Clark appreciates all the support from former teammates

More than 35 players from the 49ers’ first Super Bowl champion will be in attendance on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium to show support for Dwight Clark, who revealed in March he was diagnosed with ALS.

Clark, 60, will have ample opportunity to reconnect with some of his old friends on Saturday evening and again on Sunday. At halftime, Joe Montana, surrounded by most of the 49ers' 1981 team, will introduce Clark before a video tribute.

Clark is also expected to make some remarks while situated in a suite for the 49ers’ game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Montana and his wife, Jennifer, have remained in close contact with Clark and his wife, Kelly. The Clarks recently watched the Blue Angels in San Francisco with the Montanas during Fleet Week.

“He’s getting pretty inundated with everyone staying in touch with him at this point,” Montana said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

“It’s fun for him. At one point, he was telling his wife, Kelly, ‘This is what it’s all about. This is what I want and what I miss, seeing the guys.’ So any of the guys reaching out to him, he surely appreciates it.”

Montana said Clark has not lost his positive outlook or his sense of humor, as evidenced by some not-fit-for-print words he recently had about his wheelchair. Montana said there are always some good laughs and stories any time Clark gets together with his friends.

“That’s the fun part," Montana said. “You just try to get him to forget what’s there, and that you’re there for him whenever. I think the support is the biggest thing right now. In that stage of ALS, it's got to be getting tough, where all of a sudden, things are becoming more and more difficult.”

Roger Goodell: 'What we are trying to stay out of is politics'

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USATSI

Roger Goodell: 'What we are trying to stay out of is politics'

NEW YORK — The NFL is not changing its national anthem policy to require players to stand during the national anthem.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners said Wednesday at the league’s fall meetings that altering the language from “should stand” to “must stand” was not discussed.

New York Giants owner John Mara noted that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones “spoke at length” to the other owners about the anthem issue. Jones has said any Dallas player who doesn’t stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” would not be playing.

Goodell reiterated that the league and its 32 clubs “believe everyone should stand for the national anthem. It’s an important part of our policy and the game. It’s important to honor our flag and our country and I think our fans expect that.”

Asked about any owners who threatened discipline for players who didn’t stand, Goodell said the owners didn’t discuss it.

“There was a fair amount of conversation and I think our clubs see it the same way. I can’t deal with hypotheticals,” Goodell said.

Reminded that President Donald Trump tweeted again Wednesday about the demonstrations during the anthem, Goodell said there was nothing unpatriotic about his league.

“Everyone feels strongly about our country and have pride,” he said, adding the NFL is “not afraid of tough conversations.

“What we are trying to stay out of is politics.”

Goodell noted that only six or seven players are still kneeling or are involved in protests.

“We hope we will continue to work to put that at zero,” he said.

On Tuesday, in an unprecedented move for a league meeting, a group of 11 owners and more than a dozen players met for more than two hours at NFL headquarters. Among the topics discussed was enhancing the players’ platforms for speaking out on social issues.

“I understand the way they feel about these issues,” Goodell said Wednesday. “We feel the same about patriotism and the flag and I believe our players feel that way. We have a great deal of support for the efforts of our players.”