Here is a link to my Friday column. The full text runs below:
This season is all about Jed York. For better or worse. It’s about Jed’s leadership, judgment and wisdom.
Sure, the season is about Colin Kaepernick and NaVorro Bowman and the offensive line and the pass rush and other things that will happen on the football field. But looming behind all that is the face of Jed. The plan Jed put forth. The team Jed put forth. The coaching staff Jed put forth. The organization Jed put forth. The pervasive fact of Jed.
How are you going to do, Jed?
Jed didn’t want the Jim Harbaugh Show. Dumped it. Sure, the Harbaugh Show produced wins, but it was too much about Jim. All Jim all the time. So unsightly. So not winning with class. A team shouldn’t be about the coach. Heaven forbid. Tell that to Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Tom Landry, Mike Ditka, Mike Shanahan and, oh, Bill Walsh. With those guys it was all about them. And they never amounted to anything.
So, the 2015 Niners are definitely not the Jim Tomsula Show. He’s the head coach and he can’t even get a show of his own. And he accepts that. Welcomes it. He wants it to be about the players. Such humility. He comes across like a perennial sidekick. He is Ed McMahon. He doesn’t aspire to be Johnny Carson. And he loves it that way. That’s how down to earth and unassuming he is.
Because Tomsula knows one thing. This is the Jed York Show, produced, written and directed by Jed. Jed always working behind the scenes. Almost never making a public statement or a public appearance. But Jed is there. You can hear him breathing and whispering if you listen closely.
Think of Jed as the master puppeteer. What does that make Tomsula?
So, here’s what we want to know. Now that the Niners have become the Jed York Show, how will it play? That’s the key question, right? How will it play in Pittsburgh, Arizona, Seattle, Chicago? How will it play at home?
In football lingo, we’re asking this: How many games will the Niners win?
Jed, with as little background in football as you and me, decided the 49ers needed changes. Not just little changes. Extensive changes. Massive honking changes.
He ran off the head coach and replaced him with what? Well, as far as we know Tomsula is a complete unknown. Tomsula is homespun and self-deprecating and he mangles the English language in a funny charming way like Lou Costello. And he is a survivor. Niners coaches come and go and he keeps his place in the building, rises in the hierarchy. That could be his chief talent — surviving and rising.
He seems like a nice guy. He may very well be a nice guy. I don’t know and you don’t know. It doesn’t matter if he’s a nice guy. It matters if he can win.
Can you win, Jim? Because I’ll tell you this, Jed told everyone he wants a championship. I was in the room when Jed said that. And Trent Baalke, your general manager, announced this is not a rebuilding year. How do you feel about that? Not a rebuilding year now that Patrick Willis and Justin Smith and Aldon Smith and Anthony Davis are gone. No big deal. “Go win a championship, Jimmy T. We know you can do it.”
Jed did other amazing things. He gutted the best coaching staff in football. Forget Harbaugh. Jed managed to run off defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, a brilliant motivator and strategist. Elite in the league. And Jed couldn’t keep offensive-line coach Mike Solari. Another elite coach. Jed kept Tomsula.
Tomsula is one of the lowest-paid head coaches in the NFL. A bargain hire. You have to figure defensive coordinator Eric Mangini earns less than Fangio earned. It is a cost-saving coaching staff.
And think about this. Fangio and former offensive coordinator Greg Roman used to figure in head-coach discussions at other teams. Roman isn’t even a good coordinator and he used to get head-coach interviews. When was the last time any team besides the Niners interviewed Mangini or new offensive coordinator Geep Chryst for a head-coaching job?
The Niners have $16 million in cap space. Lots of money. In assembling their roster, they often went young and cheap. They remind you of the Oakland A’s.
Steve Young recently said the 49ers are starting at the bottom of the hill. That doesn’t sound very good. Young didn’t mean it to sound good. He meant the 49ers have brutal work ahead of them climbing that hot dusty hill with 16 opponents, some of them higher on the hill, trying to knock them down. The Niners used to start the season near the summit where the air was fresh and clean. That wasn’t so long ago.
The Vikings are favored against the Niners in their season opener, even though it’s a home game for San Francisco — or Santa Clara. That distinction is so confusing. Another Jed Production.
The 49ers will be lucky to win half their games despite Jed’s talk about championships. I could be wrong. Of course, I could be wrong. And if I’m wrong, and if the 49ers make the playoffs and if they actually win the Super Bowl in their own stadium no less, I will praise Jed to the sky and write what a dope I am. I’m fully prepared to do that.
But I’m not sweating it. And there’s something else I’m not sweating. Jed bravely announced, if the 49ers bomb this season, he will take full responsibility. That is so darn comforting.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.