Jed York discusses future of the 49ers: 'You don't dismiss owners'

Jed York discusses future of the 49ers: 'You don't dismiss owners'

SANTA CLARA -- CEO Jed York met with the media on Monday morning to discuss the firings of coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke, as well as the future of the organization.

On Monday, CSNBayArea.com reported the top candidates for the opening of coach are New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Seattle offensive line coach and former Raiders head coach Tom Cable, Buffalo interim head coach Anthony Lynn, Jacksonville interim coach Doug Marrone and Miami defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.

The top candidates to emerge in that search are New England director of player personnel Nick Caserio, Kansas City director of player personnel Chris Ballard, ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton, and Seattle co-player personnel directors Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer.

Here's what York had to say:

--York apologizes for a 2-14 season. He said he will move forward to find the right general manager and coach.

--He said will make the ultimate decision for coach and GM. He will consul with others inside and outside the building.

--"We need to be open and flexible to structure," York said when asked whether he'll hire coach or general manager first. "Whatever structure is best" is what he will do.

--York said, "I own this football team, and you don't dismiss owners."

--"If you're going to reestablish a culture, the best way to do that is a clean slate," York said.

--The 49ers are going to have the opportunity to build with a lot of draft picks and lot of salary cap room. It has to be a collaboration, York said, between him, the coach and the general manager.

--He said the 49ers will spend the money and do everything in his arsenal to have the team win. He said the Super Bowl might be realistic next year. "We have a vision that's going to last for a long period of time," York said.

--York said the general manager and coach have to be able to re-establish a championship culture. He said the ultimate goal is to win a championship, multiple championships. That's the culture he wants inside the building.

--"Trent has more of a defensive mind," York said. He saw the vision of Baalke paired with the offensive-minded Chip Kelly. That did not work. "That's why we're cleaning the slate," he said.

--"We need to get the right people," York said. "It has to be these two guys on the same page. . . They need to be accountable to each other."

--"We were 2-14, we didn't do a lot of things right this year," York said.

--On whether it was a mistake to fire Jim Harbaugh. He said he would not look back and second guess.

--He said he has interviewed some of the coaching candidates in the past.

--The 49ers will roll over the entire $39 million salary-cap surplus to next year.

--Paraag Marathe will help York in the search for coach and general manager.

--Tom Gamble will not be a candidate for the GM position, as York said the team needs two people from the outside.

--York said he wanted to give Chip Kelly every opportunity and he made a decision at the end of the game. He said he wishes Chip had a "better opportunity."

--The biggest thing he's learned is the relationship between head coach and general manager. "If you're not on the same page in the organizaiton, you give yourself no chance to win." He said it "had to be done" to fire Baalke. He said Kelly is a damn good coach and didn't see the future going the right way.

--York said his uncle, Eddie DeBartolo, continues to be an advisor. He did not name names but he said there's enough people he trusts and respect from whom he is seeking advice.

--"We need to make sure we start with a new culture with a general manager and head coach."

--York did suggest he's spoken to Joe Montana, Steve Young, Ronnie Lott, Harris Barton and Brent Jones along the way.

--York said there were 59,000 fans at the game on Sunday. "I owe them so much more than what we've given them. And we will give it to them."

--"I'm embarrassed where we are now."

--He said you can't take a carbon copy of what teams have done to won. "You have to make sure you have the right personalities together. . . They need to be accountable to each other and have a shared vision and shared philosophy."

--York said he sat down with the players to answer questions on Monday.

--Nobody else has been fired, York said. He said the new general manager and new head coach will make the final decisions on who's here and who's not. All are willing to seek employment elsewhere.

--York said there is no time table for hiring coach and general manager. He said he has to make sure he gets it right.

Quinnen Williams, Josh Allen reflect on visits to meet with 49ers


Quinnen Williams, Josh Allen reflect on visits to meet with 49ers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – General manager John Lynch spent a portion of his pre-draft session with the media on Monday raving about Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.

On Wednesday, Williams returned the favor.

“They left a great impression on me, just to meet those guys out there,” said Williams, whom the 49ers hosted on a top-30 visit this month. “I met John Lynch. He’s a great guy.”

Williams is a legitimate option for the 49ers to consider with the No. 2 overall pick. Williams’ name has also come up in speculation over the past week that the Arizona Cardinals could select him with the top pick. Assuming the Arizona Cardinals take Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the top selection, the 49ers' pick would likely come down to Williams or Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa.

Williams was a first-year starter at nose tackle for Alabama, and he quickly shot up draft boards with a season in which he registered 19.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks.

“The season he had may have been as good of a college football season that I’ve ever seen,” Lynch said. “He was just dominant.”

As Williams began to talk about Lynch, he laughed about a highlight he saw of him during a TV show about Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders. Lynch was a nine-time Pro Bowl player during his 15-year career with Tampa Bay and Denver.

“I saw him juke John Lynch,” Williams said of Sanders. “It was so funny because I know John Lynch now.”

If Williams were to end up with the 49ers, he would likely team up on the interior defensive line with DeForest Buckner. Williams said he met Buckner during his visit to Santa Clara. His takeaway: “He’s huge.”

Williams said he would relish the opportunity to play alongside one of the best defensive tackles in the game. Buckner was named to his first NFC Pro Bowl team after totaling a career-high 12 sacks.

“I’m not going to any franchise thinking I’m the man, thinking this or that,” Williams said. “I’m thinking that I’m coming to any franchise and I’m bringing a weapon that can help the team and push the pocket. This game has turned to a real passing game and me, as a defensive lineman, I’m a pass-rusher. I go get it. But I can also stop the run at an elite level.”

[RELATED: Quinnen Williams leans on family, football after great loss]

Another player the 49ers could consider with the No. 2 pick in the draft is Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen, who led the nation with 17 sacks last season as a senior. Allen mentioned the weather and the food as some of the highlights of his visit to meet with the 49ers in Santa Clara.

Allen came away feeling good about the possibility of playing for defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and new defensive line coach Kris Kocurek. Allen said the 49ers told him he would play defensive end in their defensive scheme.

“My hand would be in the dirt, rushing the passer and setting the edge,” he said.

NFL draft: 49ers GM John Lynch on how he's learned from past mistakes

NFL draft: 49ers GM John Lynch on how he's learned from past mistakes

As 49ers GM John Lynch and his staff head into their third draft, Lynch admits that they are using lessons learned from Reuben Foster and Joe Williams to help prevent the same draft mishaps from happening again. 

Lynch has spoken about needing to be aggressive in taking players that will improve the franchise while taking into account a solid locker room environment. A few of Lynch's picks have backfired, but he says the team has learned from their mistakes. He spoke about how his past two seasons have been a learning process, while also admitting that sometimes you still have to take risks. 

“I think a combination of both,” Lynch said. “If you aren’t always learning, shame on you, shame on us. I think with Reuben, I think we somewhat accounted for it by where we drafted him. I think we had him at a certain value. We didn’t draft him there. That doesn’t excuse us. It’s a shame. 

“We’re very happy to have Kwon Alexander, but that came at a heavy price. We would’ve much preferred to have Reuben still playing here. So, of course, you learn a lesson.” 

The heavy price for the 49ers was Alexander’s five-year $54 million contract. Foster would have cost much less under his four-year rookie contract that was worth just over $9 million. 

Foster had a few red flags prior to the draft, including being sent home from the NFL Scouting Combine after a confrontation with a hospital worker and a diluted urine test. His troubles continued with assault allegations and other off-the-field issues. 

Lynch detailed the slight variations to their pre-draft vetting process that was made, in part, because of what they learned from Foster. 

“There are certain tweaks we’ve made,” Lynch said. “Our 30 visits this year, we brought people more in a group setting. We want to see how they interact with other people. So, those are subtle things that we do.”

Meanwhile, Williams spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve and then was released prior to the 2018 season. He was a player who had great game film, especially just before the draft when he ran for a record-setting 332 yards in the Foster Farms Bowl at Levi’s Stadium. 

As with Foster, Williams had his share of red flags as well. He quit football after being at Utah for a season to deal with issues regarding family matters. He rejoined the team when they were in desperate need at running back. 

Since drafting Williams, Lynch has been very vocal about acquiring players who love the game of football, almost reminding himself to not forget the miss in his first draft. The positive side is that the team released Williams after his second offseason instead of holding out hope that he would develop and pan out.   

“As to Joe, I think that was a pick, it didn’t work out,” Lynch said. “But, in every scenario, whether something worked or didn’t work, you take note. We try to do that in each individual case.”
“There’s so much that just goes into the research of these players. You learn something every year. I think the most important thing, you impart upon your scouts, upon your staff is, ‘We have to be as thorough as humanly possible.’”

[RELATED: Final first-round NFL mock draft]

For a GM without front office experience, Lynch surrounded himself with experienced people. The past two 49ers draft classes have been far from perfect -- but that can be said about every draft class. Lynch just hopes to improve each season by learning from his past. 

“Anything we can learn about these guys is valuable information,” Lynch said. “I’m real proud of the work we’ve done with our staff to get as much information to be equipped to make as good a decision as possible.”
“You work hard to try to identify what is the lesson that you learned. We know in-house what those lessons are.”