The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners

The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners
A review and commentary on the history & lastest events surrounding the 17 time NFC Western Division & 5 -Time World Champion San Francisco 49ers. From 1946 and the All America Football Conference to 2009 and the road to a 6th Super Bowl title - For true fans of the scarlet and gold! Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Return To Glory Won't Be Solved By Players Or Coaches

In April 2000, Eddie DeBartolo (right) relinquished his stake as the 49ers' majority owner after being implicated in a bribing scandal. With Eddie gone, the golden era of 49ers football was nearing its end. Denise DeBartolo York and her husband John York (below) took over the team. And in their eight years at the helm of the team, one thing has become patently clear: They just don't get it. Because Denise, Eddie's younger sister, showed no enthusiasm or interest in running the franchise, that responsibility was deferred to John, who admitted in an interview in 2003 that he really wasn't into it, either. A medical researcher by trade, Dr. York was neither a football aficionado nor adept at public relations. And under his stewardship, the 49ers headed for a prolonged decline.

Aloof and often inaccessible, York has been a meddlesome owner who's had a few dust-ups with the media, of all people. In 2002, after a game, York reportedly confronted a 49ers beat writer, berating him and repeatedly poking him in the chest. Apparently, York was unhappy about a recent story that shed light on his micromanagement of the team, the juiciest nugget being that bottled water was taken away from the team's offices and placed under lock and key, in an effort to cut cost. Such matters aside, the 49ers actually performed well in spite of him, making the playoffs in 2001 and 2002. But after losing to eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a divisional playoff game in January 2003, coach Steve Mariucci was shockingly fired three days later.

It was not York's finest hour. Mariucci's firing was handled extremely poorly, with just about everyone in the building knowing the ax was dropping -- except Mariucci. His wife Gayle heard the news on the radio. York did the firing but forced GM Terry Donahue to be the frontman for the news media while York capped the exercise by announcing to all of his front-office personnel that "everyone is expendable."

The 49ers have not had a winning season since.

York's choice of Donahue to replace Bill Walsh as the GM also was disastrous. While Walsh rescued the 49ers from salary-cap hell, Donahue's questionable drafts and free-agent signings -- in addition to his hiring of Dennis Erickson as coach to succeed Mariucci -- laid the foundation for the steady decline of the 49ers fortunes. At the end of the 2004 season, York canned both Erickson and Donahue. But York's troubles continued, on and off the field. In 2005 an internal training video, filled with risqué material and borderline racist/homophobic language, was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle. It was the final chapter of a power struggle between media relations director Kirk Reynolds and Donahue. While Donahue publicly denied the charge, it was widely believed that he was the source of the leak as a way to embarrass the organization and particularly Reynolds, who was summarily fired.

After yet another losing season in 2007, York vacillated for several days about firing coach Mike Nolan, who is 16-32 in his three seasons, but ultimately decided against it. But Nolan was stripped much of his powers on personnel decisions and Mike Martz was brought in to revive a woebegone offense. At the end, it probably doesn't matter who's the GM, coach, offensive coordinator, down to the water boy. As long as the Yorks continue to own the 49ers -- and now you can add son Jed to the mix -- it probably won't make any difference.

They just don't get it.

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