Jed York

Why Donnie Ecker compares Giants' rebuild to 49ers' rise to dominance


Why Donnie Ecker compares Giants' rebuild to 49ers' rise to dominance

Donnie Ecker is a man of action. He would much rather show you on the field than tell you about it. 

Ecker, 33, has a big task ahead of him in 2020. The Giants named Ecker, a Los Altos native, as their new hitting coach in December. He respects the veterans on San Francisco's roster, though, he knows this team has a ways to go with turning around the offense. 

For Ecker, it all starts with being truthful when looking at the roster. 

"We were bottom three in every single offensive category three years in a row," Ecker recently said on KNBR. "Even if you're the No. 1 offense and you won the World Series, you're starting from sratch with a new team. With our hitting unit, that's a blessing. We're starting scratch." 

The Giants finished 27th in team batting average (.239) last season, 28th in OPS (.694), 26th in home runs (167) and 28th in runs scored (678). They have a ways to go, to say the least, after enduring their third straight losing season. 

Ecker is looking at a different Bay Area team that recently pulled themselves from the bottom to the top in a few seasons as something the Giants can use as a blueprint for success. No, not the Warriors. 

"What I will say is that I grew up in the Bay Area. The fan base, the community, the Giants brand -- it raised me," Ecker said, "I feel like I really understand it, and all you have to do is look at Jed York, John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan and what they've built. I was around in those in between years after [Jim] Harbaugh and there's a lot of parallels if you look at what Farhan is doing and Scott Harris and what the 49ers ... how they intellectually had a process to build a roster, used their finances strategically and objectively.

"They've really built themselves on paper for a really sustainable run. There's a process to make really smart, small victory decisions over and over and over. Even in player development we're looking at that." 

Kyle Shanahan took over as the 49ers new head coach ahead of the 2017 season and picked nine-time Pro Bowl safety John Lynch as his general manager. San Francisco had won seven games combined the two seasons before the Shanahan-Lynch duo took over. And then, Shanahan lost his first nine games as a head coach. 

[RELATED: Who starts for Giants vs. Dodgers on Opening Day]

All was not well at Levi's Stadium. But after winning 10 games between 2017 and '18, Shanahan led the 49ers to a 13-3 record this season, good for the NFC West title and No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. If they beat the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game, Shanahan will pull a Bill Walsh and lead the 49ers to a Super Bowl in his third season at the helm.

The Giants are projected to win only 71 games this season, but have one of the most improved farm systems in baseball. They aren't exactly on their way to a World Series this year, however, it's clear president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has a plan in place with his eyes focused on the future.

George Kittle preaches 49ers' family values in latest 'Brick by Brick'

George Kittle preaches 49ers' family values in latest 'Brick by Brick'

"Just be you, and we are great."

Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle played a huge role in the success of the 2019-20 season for the 49ers. Whether he was hyping the team up or continuously running while having his facemask in the grasps of Saints tight end Marcus Williams.

That 48-46 victory over New Orleans was extra special. 

49ers CEO Jed York embraced defensive tackle Solomon Thomas after the emotional win. Thomas' sister took her own life in January of 2018. Tony York, Jed's younger brother, committed suicide one year and a day prior to that Sunday game. It was a special, heartwrenching embrace that was filled with tears in their eyes.

Coach Kyle Shanahan spoke to a locker room that was overwhelmed with emotions -- Jed was too emotional to speak. They knew it would be a tough one, but they were there for one another. Those "family" chants they say after a huddle mean more than just being in sync with each other.

[RELATED: Beathard returns to practice after brother's tragic death]

That game, and others -- along with plenty of Greg Papa touchdown calls are on the latest episode of the 49ers' "Brick by Brick," on YouTube

Kittle may have started with hyping up his teammates, but he ended the day being ever so thankful for his very special owner -- and joining the 49ers in winning the NFC West.

George Kittle fulfills promise to Yorks with 49ers' win over Saints

George Kittle fulfills promise to Yorks with 49ers' win over Saints

NEW ORLEANS – Following the loss last week to the Baltimore Ravens, 49ers tight end George Kittle sought out CEO Jed York to make an emotional promise.

“I was talking to Kittle last week,” York told NBC Sports Bay Area, “and he was with his parents at the end of the game, and he said, ‘We got it next week.’”

Kittle knew this would be an difficult week for the York family. One year ago on Saturday, Jed York’s brother, Tony York, died at the age of 35. The 49ers took the field on Sunday in New Orleans with “TY” helmet decals.

And when his team needed a big play on a fourth-and-2 in the final minute, of course, it was Kittle who came through with the reception of the game to help propel the 49ers to a riveting 48-46 victory over the Saints.

“And watching him on that play was just huge,” Jed York said.

Kittle made the catch of a Jimmy Garoppolo pass, picked up the first down – and was not satisfied until he got a heck of a lot more. Kittle’s 39-yard reception included 31 yards after the catch. Then, the 49ers picked up an additional 15 yards when New Orleans safety Marcus Williams was called for a facemask penalty as he did all he could to try to tackle Kittle.

The play put the 49ers in position for Robbie Gould’s 30-yard field goal as time expired for the winning points.

A year ago, the 49ers had an emotional victory over the New York Giants at Levi’s Stadium just two days after Tony York’s death. Jed York spoke passionately to the team after that game.

On Sunday, Jed York was too emotional to speak to the victorious 49ers' locker room. Team co-chair Dr. John York addressed the team following the victory over the Saints, which took place just a few miles from where Tony attended college at Tulane University.

“It was an emotional beginning of the week, and I tried to get that out,” Jed York said. “My brother liked to party and have fun and celebrate. So you had to celebrate.

“Tony was just cool. He’d be smiling, probably have a hurricane. That’s Tony.”

Coach Kyle Shanahan presented members of the York family, including twin sisters Jenna and Mara, with game balls after the victory over the Saints. Kittle relished his role in bringing the victory to the family, and helping team improve to 11-2 on the season.

“We were going to do everything we could,” said Kittle, who caught six passes for 67 yards and a touchdown. “We know he’s watching over us. We’re just going to do everything we can to get this ‘W’ for their family. What they do for us as a team is incredible. They spare no expense. They just want us to be as successful as we can. I couldn’t ask for a better owner.

“There was a lot of emotion. Usually, the family is down on Fridays and Saturdays. We didn’t get to see them because, obviously, it’s tough time for them. They are so incredible to us and the support we get from them day-in and day-out is bar none.”

Kittle paused a bit when asked about his promise to Jed York and how it was his clutch play that got the 49ers into position for the winning points.

[RELATED: Where 49ers stand in playoff picture]

“It’s football, and things come full circle sometimes,” Kittle said.

Said Jed York, “You can’t get too ahead of yourself. It was definitely special. We have a lot more to accomplish. I think if anything, it shows the tightness we have as an entire group. Everybody having each other’s back.”