Misdirected Hatred: In Defense of Jed York

Jed York is not the enemy.

That’s a pretty controversial statement within this Empire and I’m sure a lot of Faithfuls just took exception to it.

It’s okay; I understand completely where you’re coming from. In fact, after Jim Harbaugh was fired – and yes, semantics aside, he was fired – I was screaming from the rooftops along with the rest of you. Harbaugh was the savior after a far too long drought, which we weren’t used to with the memories of the 80’s and 90’s still fresh in our minds.

As Harbaugh exited the building and the “Goodbye Harbaugh” messages flooded social media, I felt the same sort of anger and ire that was felt by – probably – everybody reading this. I supported the “Hold Jed Accountable” and “Fire Baalke” banners and billboards. I continued to rant against York and this new regime and longed for the days of Eddie D and Carmen Policy.

Then Jed York did something good – very good, in fact – he fired Trent Baalke. Discussion about the long list of candidates inspired optimism. Elation set in on the day it was announced that Kyle Shanahan was going to become our new head coach and even more excitement at the announcement of John Lynch as our General Manger.

At that point it occurred to me that maybe Jed York wasn’t so bad after all.

A number of things were very right about this hiring. First of all, they hired two guys that could work together. When Lynch heard Shanahan was going to be the Niners head coach, he called him and said he’d like to work with him.

Secondly, it gives two perspectives one an offensive genius and the other a nine-time Pro Bowl defensive player with eight years experience in the broadcasting booth.

Finally, York hired the best guy. Shanahan seemed to be at the top of the list for most fans, he had the most buzz during the hiring process and the hire was praised around the NFL after it was announced.

Watching the press conference when they were announced, I started to think back to the last time I was this excited about a 49er press conference – when Jed York announced the hiring of Baalke and Harbaugh.

Then I realized, Jed York really isn’t that bad at all.

It wasn’t Jed York that made poor decisions in every single draft. It also wasn’t Jed York that let players like Delanie Walker, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree leave the team. It’s also not York that alienated and marginalized Jim Harbaugh. While, it’s factual that these things happened under York’s “watch”, Trent Baalke deserves the credit for nearly all of the things that we generally blame on York. In fact, York did what a good owner should do, and remained hands off as the football people did football things.

He just had the wrong “football guy.”

The one thing York handled poorly was choosing to side with Baalke over Harbaugh. To look at it from York’s perspective though, Baalke was the guy he was closest too. He was the guy in the upper offices while Harbaugh was on the field and in the locker room. It’s understandable that York tended to side with the guy who constantly had his ear.

Jed said, “Hold me responsible”, he met the media face to face, in the midst of adversity. He could have hidden behind closed doors with press releases and surrogates taking his place, but he didn’t. When it came to Baalke, he finally did do the right thing, after two horrible seasons, he fired Baalke and put the right team in place.

Jed York is the owner who has given us Shanahan, Lynch and now, Jimmy Garoppolo. With Handsome Jimmy behind center, Shanahan calling the plays and as much in cap space as the entire salary cap was in 2008 – the expectations for the 49ers future are as high as they have ever been.

So, feel free to hold York accountable for his mistakes as an owner, that’s your right – in fact it’s your obligation as a fan. However, remember all of the positive things under his leadership as well. Remember three straight NFC Championship games and finishing one finger short of winning the Super Bowl.

Judge Jed York all you want – but consider all of the evidence and judge him fairly. Jed York is not the enemy, Trent Baalke was.

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