Here’s a link to my Sunday column. Full text below:
From the Wild Assumption File. Jed York will address the media soon.
Clearly a wild assumption. For all we know, the guy’s a hologram. I haven’t laid eyes on him in a year. If he talks — one very big if — it could happen Jan. 4, the day after the 49ers’ last game. Or it could happen during Super Bowl Week. The national media certainly will request time with him, the host owner. And let’s be clear, if he does not talk, if he ducks the media on Jan. 4 and Super Bowl Week, he is, as boxing people say, a bum.
On the assumption York willingly flaps his gums, here are five fair, pertinent and necessary questions shrieking to be asked and answered.
First Question: Why did Jed fire Jim Harbaugh? Err, I mean why did they mutually part ways, as Jed likes to say?
Here’s what I think based on my experience and observations. Harbaugh has a dominating personality, as we know. Jed does not. Harbaugh tried to dominate — intimidate? — Jed and Jed felt intimidated. Jed believed Harbaugh made too large a footprint in the Niners organization and at team headquarters.
Harbaugh did not play along with non-football stuff, like worshipping at the shrine of the new stadium. I think Harbaugh probably should have played along, but he’s not good at non-football things. He also doesn’t dress snappy when snappy dress is called for, like at Super Bowl news conferences. All this wore Jed down, so Jed got rid of Harbaugh despite Harbaugh’s exemplary win-loss record.
In other words, Jed should have found a way to deal with Harbaugh but he was not powerful enough to contend with this strong, self-willed, narrow-focused man. That’s what I believe. I wonder what Jed tells himself.
Second Question: Why did Jed hire Jim Tomsula as head coach?
Tomsula is not a good head coach. That is my axiom and a writer is entitled to his axiom. You are free to disagree if you dare.
Two people with knowledge of the 49ers told me Tomsula felt more allegiance to the York family than to Harbaugh when he was on Harbaugh’s staff. You’re free to interpret this any way you choose.
One of these people was extremely critical of Tomsula. This person pointed out that, when he took over the Niners, Harbaugh retained Tomsula from the prior coaching staff. Something he was under no obligation to do. In return, Tomsula owed Harbaugh — not the Yorks — total loyalty. But Tomsula felt more allegiance to the Yorks than to Harbaugh. In return for his loyalty, the Yorks promoted him to head coach.
This is the narrative two reliable and knowledgeable people told me, and it helps explain the rise of Tomsula. If it works for you, good. If not, I admit this whole Tomsula story is weird and hard to fathom, and I may be missing something.
Third Question: If Jed retains Tomsula for next season, why?
Me, I wouldn’t retain him. I’d pay off his contract and wish him a happy life. I don’t believe he ever could get another job in the NFL as head coach or coordinator. Maybe some team would hire him as defensive line coach. Maybe not. The narrative I explained in “Second Question” has gone around the league. Not good news for Tomsula.
But I believe Jed may retain Tomsula. My belief comes from Tomsula’s recent manner in media sessions. He doesn’t sweat like a guy who’s been running down blind alleys on a sweltering, muggy August day in Brooklyn anymore. He seems relatively dry.
He talks about the future in Santa Clara. His future. And how he is developing a new core of leaders on his 4-10 team. We’ll see about those leaders. Jed may have assured Tomsula he’s in for another round. Jed may have convinced himself Tomsula is not responsible for the crummy 49ers. Tomsula was a victim of retirements and injuries — the usual blah-blah — and, given one more season, he’ll morph into the new Bill Walsh. Which I call the usual ha-ha.
Fourth Question: If Jed retains Trent Baalke for next season, why?
The relationship between Jed and Baalke is a real head-scratcher. Baalke is substandard at the draft and, frankly, at putting together a competitive roster. I don’t need to explain all that yet again. Here’s my theory: Jed has no football IQ, knows zilch about football and always should keep his mouth shut on football subjects.
Jed knows he’s a football dullard and depends on Baalke because, in Jed’s mind, Baalke is the only 49ers executive with any kind of football IQ. Jed probably is right. Jed is reluctant to let Baalke go. Feels a kind of dependency.
Advice to Jed: Break free of Baalke. Take the big leap. Find someone with a higher football IQ to run your organization. Let the high-IQ guy hire a new coach. And then you, Jed, get out of the way.
Fifth Question: How do we hold you accountable, Jed?
After last season, you told the media, “If we aren’t winning a Super Bowl, you should hold me accountable. You should jump down my throat. I welcome that, and I’m ready for the challenge.”
A lot of fans — and some media — think that was a phony pledge. Think you’re a phony.
Here’s how I know fans think you’re a phony. At a recent home game, a plane flew over the stadium trailing a banner that said, “Jed & 49ers should mutually part ways.” It was a slap at your justification for dumping Harbaugh, as if he really wanted to leave the Niners.
At the next home game, a plane trailed this banner: “Hold Jed accountable.”
We can’t send you to your room or give you a timeout or cut off your television privileges. You have all the power. You own the team along with Mom and Dad. People can boycott your games, but you already have their PSL dough. You’re rolling in cash. When you say to hold you accountable, you come off spoiled and smug.
Your challenge — “hold me accountable” — rings hollow. Your explanation for getting rid of Harbaugh rings hollow. Your promise to win a Super Bowl rings hollow. So much about you rings hollow. Hollow man.
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.