Here is a link to my Sunday column about Jed York and the truth. The full text runs below:

I don’t believe Jed York is a truth teller. There’s a noun for people who don’t tell the truth.

Jim Harbaugh spoke to the Merc’s Tim Kawakami the other day. Harbaugh told what really happened when he left the 49ers. Harbaugh said he wanted to stay and Jed did not want him to stay. After the 49ers were eliminated from the playoffs, Jed told Harbaugh he was out.

I believe Harbaugh is a truth teller. On the issue of Harbaugh leaving the Niners, I’m 100 percent with Harbaugh and zero percent with Jed.

According to Harbaugh, “I was told I wouldn’t be the coach anymore.” He went on to say, “You can call it ‘mutual.’ I mean, I wasn’t going to put the 49ers in the position to have a coach that they didn’t want anymore. But that’s the truth of it. I didn’t leave the 49ers. I felt the 49er hierarchy left me.”

That has the ring of truth.

Does Jed have the ring of truth? Jed told the media the Niners and Harbaugh “mutually agreed to part ways.” That’s what it said in the news release and Jed stuck to it like an exhausted swimmer hanging onto a life raft. Jed does things like that. He latches onto what he considers safe phrases and keeps repeating them until you — I — want to fall on the floor from sheer boredom.

In Jed’s narrative — The Jed Gospel — Harbaugh wanted to leave the Niners, wanted to coach at Michigan, his alma mater. Harbaugh had an incredibly intense homing instinct. That’s not what Harbaugh said. He said he got serious with Michigan only after Jed gave him the boot.

I believe Harbaugh. I don’t believe Jed.

So, what’s the problem if Jed stretched the truth, fudged a little on how and why Harbaugh left the team?

It implies, and almost certainly means, Jed has stretched the truth other times. It means he’s probably a truth stretcher. At that hilarious news conference introducing Jim Tomsula as head coach, someone asked Jed if he was the source of the season-long leaks saying Harbaugh was out.

Jed adopted the sincere face. Call it the Honest Puss Look. He said he was not the source. His voice was firm and definitive.

I don’t believe him. Or as my mother would have said, “In a pig’s eye he was telling the truth.”

I believe he was the source, or one of the sources of those corrosive leaks and did not own up to it.

It is very bad when you can’t believe a team owner. When you doubt his honesty, his integrity. When you suspect he cuts corners with the facts. It is bad when you have those doubts about anyone. With Jed we have doubts.

Harbaugh said something else intriguing in the interview. Please read this quote carefully and remember Harbaugh knows how to use words, is careful in his word choices, extremely premeditated.

Speaking of his time with the 49ers, he said, “I am never going to forget the players, the loyal coaches.”

He said more but let’s stop there. What word seems controversial in Harbaugh’s quotation?


Here’s why. When Harbaugh said he won’t forget the players, he meant all the players. He did not define or limit or qualify the players. He meant every single player. You with me?

But with the coaches he inserted a qualifier, the adjective “loyal.” He will not miss all the coaches, he implied. He will miss the loyal coaches. That’s how I read it.

That qualifier calls into question the loyalty of one or more coaches. For me, it calls into question the loyalty of Jim Tomsula, who served under Harbaugh, who preceded Harbaugh on the staff, who, to my way of thinking, is a survivor. Who does what is necessary to survive.

In the interview, Harbaugh specifically addressed Tomsula’s loyalty, whether Tomsula was a back stabber. Harbaugh said he didn’t know if Tomsula was disloyal, if Tomsula campaigned for Harbaugh’s job while Harbaugh still was head coach. “There was definitely a point where you walk down the halls,” Harbaugh said, “and people look away or they look at you and you know something’s going on.”

I believe Harbaugh meant Tomsula.

At his farcical introductory news conference, Tomsula was asked if he had spoken to Harbaugh. Tomsula became so unsettled he almost swallowed his tongue. He was not a man who felt comfortable addressing that question.

Feelings of guilt?

Tomsula admitted he had not spoken to the deposed coach. That certainly was unusual. Colleagues wish each other well. At that news conference, Tomsula never uttered the word “Harbaugh,” acted like “Harbaugh” was a curse word or would invoke an evil spirit. Everyone noticed the omission.

A moral vacuum exists in the leadership of the 49ers. That’s what I see. I don’t trust Tomsula, although I can’t prove anything against him. I am going on my gut.

And I sure don’t trust Jed. He didn’t tell the truth about the “mutual” parting between him and Harbaugh. He should have known the real truth would come out. He should have known Harbaugh would set the record straight himself, and when Harbaugh did, Jed would look bad.

It is wrong not to tell the truth, always has been. There’s a noun for people who don’t tell the truth.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn


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