San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York took the podium on Monday morning to address about 40 members of the media. He was alone with no Trent Baalke, the team's general manager, by his side. It had been just 15 hours since the team announced the firing of head coach Jim Tomsula following the completion of a 5-11 season.
York started by thanking the fans of their support despite a "frustrating" season where the team "took a step back." He apologized to them for that frustrating season. "I hear the criticism loudly," said York, whether it be on social media or planes flying over his head. York believes that he knows what the fans want. "Nobody wants this team to win more than I do," said York. "I didn't see this team improve collectively from the beginning of the season to the end."
49ers CEO Jed York's Full Press Conference
York stated that Baalke would remain the general manager of the team and would lead the hiring process of a new head coach. "I think he has done it in the past and I think he will do it again." With the seventh pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, York believes in Trent's ability to find talent for this team.
Was it a mistake to let go of former head coach Jim Harbaugh, who is not flourishing at the University of Michigan? "Jim Harbaugh is a good football coach," he replied. "His success at Michigan doesn't surprise me at all."
#49ers Torrey Smith says players found out Tomsula was fired via text from Jed York.— Mindi Bach (@MBachCSN) January 4, 2016
York said that he spoke for a long time to his uncle, Eddie DaBartolo, this morning at 5:45 AM and feels privileged to have someone like that who he can lean on. He feels that he has taken things too personally in the past, saying, "Thank God you can't see tweets that I didn't send."
As for the upcoming coaching search, the team has a short list of candidates and he does not want to give any details on that list. A lot of teams are looking for head coaches right now and he does not want to tip their hand. They want someone that has leadership ability and a clear vision of what the 49ers are and getting them back to a championship caliber team. "I truly am sorry we had to go through this year. You have my word that I am going to do everything I can to get this team back," he added.
When asked about the hiring of Tomsula, York said, "We took a chance on Jimmy T and, ultimately, that didn't work out. You have to learn from mistakes." He stated that the nice thing about taking a swing and missing is that the NFL rewards you with things like high draft picks.
So why didn't York speak during the season? Why did he appear to go into hiding when the fans demanded answers? He stated that he didn't want to be a distraction from the team. There had been rumors that the Yorks might be interested in selling the team, which may have been an appealing prospect for fans who wanted change at the top, but York stated, "My family has owned this team since before I was born, and they will own this team after I'm gone."
York would not give details on former coaches who may have already contacted the 49ers. He said that there was no concern that coaches may not want to come work for this team. The 49ers have been viewed as a team unwilling to spend money on things like coaches and free agents. They built a money making machine of a stadium on the back of the success of Harbaugh. What did York think about those concerns? He stated that the team would eat the years of salary left on Tomsula's contract, which is approximately $10.5 million. "We're willing to spend what it takes to get everything right to get back to a championship culture."
Only Tomsula has been fired and the new coach, whoever he is, will be able to decide on who to keep from the current staff. York believes that there are a lot of good coaches still on the staff.
Since it was reported that ownership and management did not get along with big personalities like Harbaugh, leading to the hire of someone that they easily got along with in Tomsula, York was asked if that would factor into the hiring of a new coach. York simply said, "We're in need of someone that can win Super Bowls. Period."